Whether you are setting up for a BBQ in your backyard, or stuck in the middle of nowhere with a cold front moving in, the ability to start a fire when you don’t have the usual supplies is a very handy skill to possess. To make your life easier, we’ve put together several of the most useful ways we could find.
Igniting Steel…or Aluminum
Most of us have a number of batteries lying around and, thanks to the popularity of cell phones, we usually have at least one when we’re out and about.
With a Gum Wrapper
A 1.5V battery in the form of AA, AAA, C or D or a 9V will work.
Start by cutting the wrapper into 4 thin strips, up the length. Set 3 aside in a safe place, in case you have to try more than once.
Cut a long dip into the strip of wrapper so that you have a narrow area in the center and wider ends.
With your tinder ready, place the ends of the metallic side of the wrapper one on each end of the battery.
Hold in place until the paper liner of the wrapper ignites.
With Super Fine Steel Wool
This is probably the easiest way to start a fire in an emergency situation. Not only is it basically fool-proof, steel wool will ignite even if it’s soaking wet!
Pull apart the steel wool to allow air to circulate around the fibers.
Place among your light weight tinder and touch both battery posts of the 9V to the steel wool simultaneously. Ignition will be instantaneous.
Sunshine, Paper and a Sharpie Marker
We all learned as kids how to use a magnifier and sunshine to start fires. Now, there is an even faster way to get these results with the simple addition of the beloved Sharpie marker. Darker colors absorb more heat, so, scribble a circle about the size of a nickel onto a piece of paper with the marker and let dry.
Using a magnifier, focus the sun’s rays onto the marked area. The area will ignite, just like it did when we were kids, but the darker color allows it to heat up and flame much faster.
Don’t have a magnifying glass available? Here is a list of ways to create your own using water or other clear liquids with a variety of handy containers.
Plastic Bag-fill a plastic bag with liquid and tie or twist it off to create as round a shape as possible.
Plastic Water Bottle-fill a water bottle with enough liquid to create a narrow beam of light.
Plastic Wrap-create a shallow bowl by stretching plastic wrap across a frame and filling.
A Clear Light Bulb-Remove the metal and internal parts of the bulb, keeping the glass part intact. Fill the bulb with water and position accordingly.
A Condom-for the person who is ready for literally everything, fill a condom with water until it’s the size of a small water balloon. Twist off and position.
Sources of liquid for this technique can be water from a stream or clear lake, your water bottle, or if you’re really desperate, your urine will work, as long as the liquid is clear as glass and not murky.
A Pencil, Jumper Cables and a Car Battery
Using a knife or sharp object, split the pencil open to expose the lead center all the way down the length. Keep the wooden scrapings available to use as tinder. Break the pencil into 2 or more pieces to give you multiples if you need to restart your fire or try again.
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Attach your jumper cables to your car battery and stretch the cables the full length to position yourself a safe distance from your vehicle. Positioning yourself over your tinder pile, place the ends of the cables one on either side of the pencil making sure the actively charged ends of the jaws are in contact with the graphite center of the pencil.
Be Prepared for The Flames
If you are truly serious about getting a blaze going make sure you have your fire pit set up before you start. Most of these techniques provide a very short window to ignite your kindling, so have everything ready and waiting to set aflame. This will save you a lot of time and frustration, especially if you find yourself in an emergency with limited supplies.
Related Article: “Top 20 Fire Starters”