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Thread: Fire starting with no tools

  1. #41

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    The scenario doesn't matter and should just be ,"I would like to learn how to make a fire with out anything other than is found in a given area naturally."

    You would have to specify the ecosystem if you want specific materials named.

    There aren't any ways to make fire without tools, as when you make your kit it will become a tool.

    If in my region of South Florida, I would navigate to a hardwood hammock. If that is impractical, for what every reason. I would look for pines.

    These will be drier than the other environments. You are already at a disadvantage because of daily rains and higher humidity we experience much of the year.

    I would not even attempt primitive fire until you can assemble a fire that you can start every time with one match. And then have mastered the type of primitive fire you are going to attempt, first with the use of tools. That means using man made cordage and possibly a man made bearing block while learning the types of wood and tinder bundles. Once you have that skill dialed in you will have eliminated some of the more frustrating things about primitive fire starting.

    Then I would add either a foraged bearing block or cordage.

    In my area there are always Coastal plain Willow, Cabbage Palm , Elderberry, and Strangler Figs. My preferred kit is willow on willow. I would use cabbage palm frond for a bearing block. It is almost ridiculous the number of tinders available to me. Kind of depends on the time of year. But, South Florida usually has something that uses aerial seed dispersal in seed. We have several types of thistle and it seems they seed year round as I have always been able to find some fluffy seed head. Willow also puts out a fluffy seed head. Any seed head I have found has made excellent tinder. Palm fibers from various palms such as the cabbage palm and saw palmetto make excellent tinder and is over abundant. Dried grass is also found year round. Just rake your fingers through the dried grass and take only what comes out with out needing to pull. This leaves you with only the driest grass.

    South Florida has very high humidity and almost daily thunder storms. But, it is also pretty hot. Take advantage of that heat and collect and protect your tinder and kindling after the sum has burned off the morning dew. But, before any thunderstorms. since you have no man made way of protecting this material. Lay some cabbage palm fronds in a protected spot under a good tree and place more pond fronds over top off them. Dead palm fronds burn very hot and will definitely help get things going.

    All south Florida woods is loaded with vines. Some are stronger than others and some of the 5 species of briars, several species of grapes, balsam apple, virginia creeper, passion flower vines, morning glory, rosary pea and hairy cow pea and other peas and vines. One that is very strong and doesn't have thorns or much in the way of foliage is the lovevine. That would be my choice for my first attempt. I have made cordage from palm dander and vines. But, I have never used it on a bow drill. So, I don't know how love vine will be as far as abrasion resistant. It is small and very strong vine though and a braided or even twisted cord should be good.

    I have also seen videos where someone is using palm frond fibers peeled from the green outer layer of a frond. You could also find a long thin young frond and probably twist that into a manageable strong cord. Braided green palm fiber would definitely work. But, you have to process and braid the fiber. So, I would try some of the vines first. To say that they are abundant in my woods is a great understatement!

    If you google palm bow drill, you will see some videos that show people using only cabbage palm for everything.

    It is going to be some work getting the kit with out a knife or saw. I would think you could break a useable heart from a willow as they always have dead parts. Getting the notch right may be difficult. I have never tried tying two sticks together to make a groove for your dust pile. But, I will now that I read it above. Otherwise, I would try to scratch a notch with a piece of limestone that is everywhere. Your drill should be relatively easy in comparison to the notch.


  2. #42
    Senior Member hunter63's Avatar
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    That's a heck of a write up....thanks for posting.
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  3. #43

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    Your question is a great one and you CAN become proficient enough to make fire from the landscape if you are willing to invest the "dirt time". Start with bow drill. The mechanical advantage of the bow allows you to get a coal even in wet conditions. I start my students with manufactured cord until they can work up to getting a working set off the landscape with rock tools. This takes about five days, about three hours of practice and coaching each day until they can go out with a piece of cord and have fire in under thirty minutes. After that, add natural cordage. You have to change your form to prevent the cord from abraiding against itself, but there is no feeling like fire off the landscape from nothing. Hand drill is technically more simple, but physically a little more demanding. It is a desert technology, so dry conditions and materials are an important factor in success. The best of both worlds is the inuit strap drill. The mechanical advantage of a bow drill with the ease of use of a hand drill, plus you don't have to put it on the ground. Here is a video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DN7Vf1Hr3fc

  4. #44

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    If I was out on the road and the car broke down and I had NOTHING else with me to start a fire, I would short the battery. Poof...fire. Most cars also have a cig lighter. Even a "dead" car battery will start a fire. Oh yeah, you still have fuel in the fuel rail which can be used to start a fire. A bulb can be broken open and placed in tinder and turned on to start a fire. The list goes on...

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    Question? What was the way many Mountain Men used to start fires in the 1800? Answer a Magnifying Glass (see "www.californiatrailcenter.org"). I bought an exact replica at the Jim Bridger Rendezvous a few years ago in WY. It is shaped in such a way that I think I could start a fire at night with moon glow. I never leave home without it.

  6. #46
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    That is probably a good system in New Mexico.

    Not so much in an area like the Pacific northwest where it rains 250 days a year and has cloud cover the other 115.

    Like Batch said, it is all climate and resource related.
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  7. #47
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    Ain't Bear Claw Chris Laphin, what who did know'ed Jeremiah Johnson, blood kin to the beast what took a bite out of Jim Bridger?
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    Assuming there are consumable materials in the area for a fire and some sticks, possibly trees or shrubs...
    Learn how to make cordage from roots (eg pine) or things like milkweed or dogbane bark. If you have clothing, you could use it to make cord for a bow drill, but depending on weather/location, it might be best to save your clothes. Shoe or Bootlaces are a good option.
    If you have a knife, it is easier. Get a soft wood, but not one full of sap like pine full of sap to use a s a base (heather board). Use same material to make a drill, around the diameter of one of your fingers and around 6 inches or so long. Smooth it round. Get a piece of rock with an indent or make one from wood to hold the top of the spinning drill, blunt at the base and pointed where it is held above in the rock or wood cap. Flatten the top of the heather board and start a depression for the rounded base of the drill and work it until it blackens and you see dust coming off. Then work/cut a notch in the side of the base board to catch the dust and let it pile up toward the top of the base board. You should have a leaf/board, stone etc under the base board and notch to catch the ember when it forms. You will see smoke and when it remains when you stop using the bow, there should be an ember. A technique not often mentioned is to hold the cap and the drill with your wrist snug against your shin. Have a 'bird's nest' of fiber or grass, down, etc in which to put the ember and blow it into a flame. Be sure to have wood for fire ready. Watch videos of how this is done.

    If no material for bow and cordage, you can use a hand drill with much the same technique. Learn how to hold your hands with fingers of alternate hands pointing up and down to keep from sliding down the drill stick. Again, watch videos. Then practice until you have done it at home several times.

    This assumes you will not use other technhiques like parts from car and nothing is available


    The bow does not have to be flexible.

  9. #49
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    So like was alredy said you got friction fire methods bow drill, hand drill, the spiny top weighted fire drill thing and fir plow. Then theres the fire from ice by makine a lenz from the ice but it has to clear and cold and suny for that to work. There is on more i dont think anyone has mentioned and i havent perfected yet where you role and twist up some ceader bark like a fat stogy. Place it betwen to flat boards or a split log halfs the meet together well. Then you slide the top board back and forth roling the ceader bark stogy betwean the to till the friction builds and you get a ember.

  10. #50
    Senior Member hunter63's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zachary Fowler View Post
    So like was alredy said you got friction fire methods bow drill, hand drill, the spiny top weighted fire drill thing and fir plow. Then theres the fire from ice by makine a lenz from the ice but it has to clear and cold and suny for that to work. There is on more i dont think anyone has mentioned and i havent perfected yet where you role and twist up some ceader bark like a fat stogy. Place it betwen to flat boards or a split log halfs the meet together well. Then you slide the top board back and forth roling the ceader bark stogy betwean the to till the friction builds and you get a ember.
    Most orf the roll fire need ashes to be added to the "stogy"...
    I have not done this.....

    More about it.....
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  11. #51
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    Nice i never saw it dun i just herd of it in an old book and couldnt get it to work. Thanks hunter

  12. #52
    Senior Member WalkingTree's Avatar
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    (hunter's vid) Wow! That one is a new one for me. You "roll" the fibers back and forth and get embers? Never would've thought of that. Really...I'm still flipping over this one...rolling the stuff back and forth. Geez lu-weez.
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  13. #53
    Senior Member hunter63's Avatar
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    Yeah, pretty cool...first vid I saw used a shop rag...we had a lot in the factory...seems like one of the multi use things we use for everything from hand wipers' to neck coolers to hot pads to checking for acids....ours were set up like litmus paper, acid would turn it dark blue or black.

    Couldn't find it just yet......
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  14. #54
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rick View Post
    Um...I think that's called irony. Good irony by the way. That's also the reason I no longer carry the canoe anchor in my pack. Learned that one the hard way.
    I thought about offering inflatable anchors to save space on boats, but I never could find investors.

  15. #55
    Senior Member WalkingTree's Avatar
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    ...just rolling the stuff back and forth. Not "scraping" surfaces back and forth against each other. But simply rolling. That gets another 'wow'.

    See, I guess if someone asked me, I'd say I guess it creates some heat, sure. But I wouldn't have thought it'd be enough to make fire. But now...the secret, as usual, is in preparing small fibers the right way. So when you roll them back and forth, the effect can be more powerful than I would have ever thought, just rolling them back and forth. Man, next thing you know, I'll find out that as long as you have dry small fibers...you can just give them a dirty look and you have fire.

    By the way, always wondered something. Fire pistons. We know how they work. But it's hard imagining how people long ago thought of that. They were much more intelligent than is popularly characterized...I'm one of the ones who've always "begged to differ" whenever someone would say that primitive people "couldn't have know this or that", etc. I'd say "how do you know?? Why were they automatically stupid just because they lived long ago?"

    But, fire pistons. That's a tough one. Rubbing two sticks together, easier to imagine - caveman "ooga booga the third" absentmindedly rubs some wood back and forth somewhere for a while, while stewing over how "MR unka bunka" took his favorite tree limb, and sees smoke...then they figure it out from there. But what chain of accidental events would lead to the precise compression resulting in an ember like with a fire piston? The other option is that someone figured out the theoretical concept...and that, by the way, is what's important with a lot of the stuff in here, understanding the concepts so that you figure out things on your own instead of having to have specific methods that you blindly follow...however, I can't imagine any way that a primitive people would have realized that compressing air makes it hot, and thinking that this could be combined with something that could ignite. It takes a lot of relatively precise work and fore-understanding to make a fire piston and to also make it work.

    However, this is with my assumption...but I don't really know...that fire pistons were used by primitive and aboriginal people long before any kind of industrial revolution - and even then, that's assuming that there weren't a lot of primitive equivalents to theoretical physicists who could conceive of and understand certain concepts that were completely unknown in real practice.
    Last edited by WalkingTree; 05-05-2016 at 06:05 PM.
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  16. #56
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    Visits from Ancient Aliens....Everyone knows that....Sheesh

    They may have thought it was like this:

    Last edited by hunter63; 05-05-2016 at 06:52 PM.
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  17. #57
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    2759e0bce41335282b094ba678ee3a45.jpg



    That's some funny stuff right there.



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  18. #58

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    I apologize if I missed this in the thread, but does anyone have knowledge on how to create flint and steel fire without a char cloth? I started learning flint and steel last spring, but every method I have learned requires some type of charcoal or char cloth to hold the spark. On TV (lol) people always drop the spark directly into the tinder and boom, fire...anyone know if that is actually possible?

    Thanks in advanced
    Wes

  19. #59
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    The spark from a F&S is not strong enough to catch most raw tinder directly. It might catch milkweed or cat tail fluff if it was extremely dry. Nothing I know of will go directly from spark to flame with a normal F&S set.

    I have sprinkled gunpowder on the tinder bundle and used that to explode into flame. You can rub black powder into most anything and ignite it directly. Some folks dissolve black powder and soak cloth in the solution, then let it dry. They call it a rub cloth. That will also burst into flame. It works with Pyrodex too. Even shredded bark will burst into flame if you soak it and let it dry.

    you can also dissolve stump remover (same nitrates as used in black powder) into a solution and soak about anything in it and get a flame from spark. We used to use cotton rope soaked in stump remover for matchlock and cannon firing cord. It glows forever.

    However you can use F&S without char-cloth or char-punk. You can catch the spark directly on the edge of frayed pure cotton cloth. If the frayed edge has been burned previously the burned area will catch and glow just like char-cloth.

    You can use the glowing edge to light your tinder bundle and then put the strip of cloth out and use it again next time.

    It works especially well if you use a flat lamp wick like those used in kerosene lamps.

    A strip of cloth or lamp wick laid in the flash-pan of a flintlock rifle will catch a glowing edge every time.
    Last edited by kyratshooter; 05-13-2016 at 04:05 AM.
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    Punk wood, amadou and fat lighter work well.
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