6 Obscure Fire Lighting Methods

Posted on March 10 2016

Fire lighting is possibly one of the essential survival abilities to master.


Most wood fires are rather similar, composed of the three primary elements: fuel, heat and oxygen. But how the fire began can be vastly different; generating that initial heat to ignite the tinder can be achieved in a variety of ways. People know how to handle a box of matches, fire steel or even how to create and use a fire drill, but what about the less traditional methods of fire starting.


Here are examples of some methods of which are less well-known but could be valuable in a survival situation, others are frankly silly! I'm providing such knowledge here just out of interest, so please do not attempt these methods yourself!


Brake Fluid And Chlorine

This one we don’t advise attempting, due to the violent eruption of flames and release of toxic chlorine fumes that it would produce. Seriously, do not this one at home or outdoors! Mixing granular sodium hypochlorite (a chemical used in pools) and brake fluid will result in a bubbling mixture of chemicals that will abruptly burst into flame.


Ice Cubes

Fire from ice (with a little help from the sun)


It is well-known fact that you can start a fire using a magnifying glass, but what if there is lots of sunlight but no magnifying glass? Create one! You can use a transparent bottle, cling-film or condom filled up with ice to make lens shapes to focus sunlight and start a fire! Ice is especially good because the surface can be melted with your hands to a make a very optically smooth finish.


Catalytic Lighter

A little known and old-fashioned method of making fire. It consists of a container with a methanol saturated pad and an insert made of extremely fine platinum wire and platinum sponge. Platinum, simultaneously being precious (which is probably why these lighters are not commercially available), is one of the best catalytic substances known. These lighters simply work by platinum catalysing the combustion of methanol vapour with oxygen. Heat builds until the wire is hot enough to auto-ignite the methanol.


Potassium Permanganate And Monoethylene Glycol

A relatively common way of fire starting is the combination of glycerine and potassium permanganate, creating high-temperature purple flames for a little while after mixing. However, In cold temperatures this reaction is extremely slower or does not take place at all, often needing the reagents to be heated under the armpit before use. Using some mono ethylene glycol instead of the glycerine allows for a faster reaction that can still take place at low temperature and use smaller amounts.


Fizzy Drink Can

Aluminium drinks cans are everywhere, and if you have nothing else but lots of time you can use one to create a fire, as long as there is plenty of sun! By polishing the bottom of the can to a very smooth mirror finish applying toothpaste, natural clays or even chocolate, you can create a parabolic mirror to focus sunlight onto some tinder held above the centre of the mirror using a stick.


Linseed Oil And Newspaper

This method is a rather slow and inconstant technique, so wouldn’t be useful for survival, but is fascinating nevertheless. Newspaper or rags that are dry but has been daubed with linseed oil are capable of spontaneous combustion; as the linseed oil oxidises it generates heat which in adequate quantity and on a dry day is capable of catching fire with no outside ignition needed. It can take hours or days to happen so we don’t know why you’d even try this technique!


Carry Smarter.


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