Survivalist Tip: Every good survivalist / camper / hiker / outdoor enthusiast knows how to build a fire from scratch. Whether you plan to stay at home, or head into the hinterlands when the apocalypse hits, building a fire literally from the ground up is an essential skill. A healthy, but contained fire is obviously a great way to cook and stay warm, especially outside. It’s how humanity survived for thousands of years before electricity, so don’t disregard its importance.
First, make sure you have a healthy supply of firewood or some other kind of kindling, such as shrubbery, grass, telephone books, newspapers, and utility bills.
Second, make certain you have plenty of matches, lighters and / or a magnifying glass.
Third, make sure you have shovel, in case you have to dig a hole in the ground.
Aside from the matches and lighters, here are other options for creating a fire:
- Use a magnifying glass. Hold the glass over the ignitable material and in front of the sun, so that a small bright dot will appear on it.
- If the sky is cloudy, you can start a fire with sticks, but the kindling must be dry. If it’s cloudy and wet, just tough it out!
- Make a bow, using slightly bendable wood. You’ll be putting a lot of pressure on the bow, and dead wood is more likely to break than similarly sized green wood. Use as thin a piece of wood as you can so the bow will be as light as possible. A lighter bow is easier to control and takes less strength to push back and forth. However, it has to be stiff enough to not bend when you’re using it. The bow doesn’t need too much of a curve. Use a shoelace, drawstring, small rope or whatever cordage you can find. Leave a little slack in the cord so that you can twist the drill into the bow. Once the drill is in the bow, the tension should be nice and firm.
- Make a fireboard. The best wood for this won’t have any sap and will be light and soft enough to easily dent with your thumbnail without gouging. Shape whatever wood you choose into a piece about an inch thick, 2-3 inches across and at least 12 inches long. Set it aside for now.
- Make a drill. The drill should be made of harder wood than the fireboard. Poplar and maple are good woods for this. Try to find the straightest piece of wood possible.
- Find or make a socket. A socket can be made of bone, wood, or rock. Look for a rock with a smooth dimple in it. The ideal rock is fist-sized with a deep dimple and smooth sides. If you can’t find a rock, the easiest socket to make is of wood. Either the rock or the piece of wood should be small enough for you to hold in your hand, but not too small. If you can’t find either a suitable rock or a piece of wood, use the head or butthole of the most uncooperative member of your clan. Put the fireboard on the ground.
- Put your left foot on the fireboard. The arch of your foot (not the ball or the heel) should be over the fireboard.
- Drop to your right knee, as if you’re giving thanks to the Great Creator for letting you survive the initial apocalypse – which you should be doing anyway.
- Hold the bow in your right hand and the drill in your left.
- Put the drill on top of the string with the pencil-sharp end pointing right, and twist it into the bow.
- Put the blunt end of the drill on the crater and put the socket on the drill.
- Grab as close to the end of the bow as you can. Put some downward pressure on the socket and start to pull back and forth on the bow. It’s a delicate balance between putting too much and not enough pressure on the drill and having the bow string too tight and not tight enough.
- Saw back and forth with the bow faster and faster, and put more pressure on the socket. Eventually, some black powder and smoke will form around the bottom of the drill. Begin blowing softly through the bundle, while gently squeezing the tinder around the coal. And thus, you have fire!
You must know this skill! I can’t emphasize enough how important it is; regardless of whether you’re able to stay indoors or have to head out on foot. Fire not only will keep you warm in cold weather, but ward off insects in hotter temperatures. It definitely can provide illumination. Like water and air, it is the sustenance of life. It’s also perfect for warming your chocolate!