Old 05-03-2008, 10:31   #46
Jack Moroney (RIP)
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I have seen 175mm "long toms" melt barbed wire, but then they are a little difficult to pack in a ruck and the lowering line on the weapons case is a little excessive You know, I think I was going to waste round I would rather waste it on someone I needed to kill and then just take their bic.
Wenn einer von uns fallen sollt, der Andere steht für zwei.
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Old 06-05-2008, 10:06   #47
Jeff Randall
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My apologies if someone has already posted this before, but a trick I teach when building fire with a Ferrocerium rod (artificial flint) and a striker is to hold the striker (sharp rock, knife edge, etc) static over your tinder and rip the ferro rod backwards (towards you) along the striker. Doing it this way keeps you from hitting your tinder bundle with the striking tool and scattering it everywhere.

As for true flint and steel, here's part of an article I wrote a long time ago that explains it pretty well. I've also got an article somewhere on my hard drive that detailsfriction fire with the hand drill and bow drill pretty good - my two favorite primitive methods of building fire:


There’s a major difference between artificial flint (Ferrocerium/Metal Match) and true flint (a generic term used for hard rocks with an ability to fracture into sharp edges - such as chert, quartz, obsidian, etc.). Not only is the composition of the two flints different but what occurs to produce a spark is also different. With artificial flint, the spark is created within the ferrocerium when struck by a harder substance (steel, rock, glass, etc.). In true flint, the spark is created by the steel that is striking the flint.

True flint and steel (not Ferrocerium) requires that a certain hardness be maintained within the striking steel for the hand strike process to work. If the steel is too soft, a couple of things happen 1) it grabs the flint instead of smoothly striking 2) the carbon levels of the steel are too low at the striking surface for a spark to be generated by a hand strike. In order for sparks to occur from a soft steel with true flint, either a larger shaving has to be removed with a greater force, or the material has to be exposed to higher friction rates such as grinding wheels or constant friction such as cars dragging tail pipes down the road. This is typically not an option for those needing fire for survival purposes.

Now let’s look at the physics behind the primitive striking steel. Nearly all striking steels are case hardened carbon steel. When a steel has been hardened properly the carbon levels at the surface, or case, are much higher than the carbon levels of un-heat treated steel. Thus, a simple hand strike against a sharp edge of a hard stone shaves a micro-grained amount of steel and turns it into a molten piece of metal - a spark.

The fire making process requires several components to produce a flame: steel that will produce a spark when struck against flint, material to catch the spark, and dry tinder that can be blown into a flame from the coal. Charred cotton cloth, charred punk wood (soft spongy material from dead vegetation and trees), and 0000 steel wool make the best spark catchers while cedar bark, crushed pine straw, dry grasses, bird nests, and many other similar materials make good tinder bundles.

Char is made by burning cotton or other vegetable material while robbing it of oxygen. A good process for this is to “bake” the material in an enclosed container over fire. The container should have a small hole punched in the lid. As the material heats up smoke will escape from this hole. Once the smoke stops, the material should be charred and ready for use. This type of charring, although the best way, is not the only way. Small pieces of cotton and punk wood can also be charred by catching them on fire and snuffing out the flame.

A brief explanation of the fire building process is to hold the flint rock in one hand with a sharp edge extending outward. Angle the edge up about 30 degrees and hold the charred material or steel wool on top of this edge with your thumb. Using the other hand strike straight down with your steel in a smooth even stroke scraping the sharp exposed edge of the flint as you travel downward. When done properly this will throw a spark upwards into the charred material. Once the spark catches, gentle blowing will expand the size of the coal which is then placed inside the tinder bundle and blown gently to produce a flame. Experimentation with the striking procedure will teach you the best angle and methods to produce the best sparks. A critical factor in doing this is to keep the edge of your flint reasonably sharp and experiment with the striking angle. As the flint wears dull, break it to expose more sharp edges.

When learning this method of fire starting it’s best to break it down into three separate steps. 1) Practice smoothly striking the flint with your steel until you produce sufficient sparks on every strike 2) Practice catching sparks in char or steel wool and blowing those sparks into larger coals. During this step you should also experiment with charring methods and different materials to see what works best. Always take into account humidity and the difficulties it can pose. 3) Practice blowing a coal to a flame within a tinder bundle. Again, try different tinders and various refinements of the tinder. You can also use a lit cigarette as your coal for this practice.

As a final note on techniques, when starting fire with true flint and steel the sparks produced are of considerably lower temperature than those produced by artificial flint (Ferrocerium). Due to this, charred material or fine steel wool is the only thing that will catch and hold the spark. The only exception to this is a true tinder fungus found on Birch trees in the Northern United States. Proper material preparation (such as charring) is important for this to be a successful method. With that said, most survival instructors refuse to teach this method since it requires char and good steel. I feel it is a sound survival technique since it gives the survivalist a method of making fire on a continual basis after an initial fire has been made. For example if you were lost and attempting self rescue by moving, you may find yourself needing to build more than one fire on your trek out. Carrying fire or using friction every time may not be an option. Simply charring punk wood or pieces of your clothing from the first fire will give you an easy method of starting additional fires when needed.

Throughout my adventures in the wilderness survival world, I’ve taught true flint and steel to numerous students. For the newcomer it’s almost a magical way of starting fire and it leaves a solid knowledge base from which the student will explore, experiment, and learn on their own, thus leading to confidence and increased survival potential should a situation ever occur. Even if you never use the process, it is wise to invest in a small C-Steel or other piece of striking steel for inclusion in your mini survival kit. It might just save the day.
Jeff Randall

A creative man is motivated by the desire to achieve, not by the desire to beat others. - Ayn Rand
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Old 06-13-2008, 11:16   #48
Chris Cram
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-Potasium permanganate and glycerin-
Potasium permanganate is an anticeptic powder and glycerin is used to treat ear infections. You should cary these items in your first aid kit. When these two substances are combined they burst into flame. If portability is an issue, its a good idea to carry items with multiple uses.

from ( http://www.freewebs.com/barksoup/survival.htm )

The key word above is 'burst'...

Have a good 'Fathers Day' Dads...
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Old 06-21-2008, 05:54   #49
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I always cheated when it came to making a fire.

1. Zippo
2. Zippo (Lighter Fluid)
3. Cotton/Leaves/Pinestraw/brother's homework

Almost burned the house down starting a fire with a plastic cup and a bic lighter in my parents bed room. They were not happy campers.
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Old 06-25-2008, 22:24   #50
long trail
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I can get a fire going w/ a bow and drill. Its definately not my first choice for fire starting but its a skill and no one can take that from you..

I generally use matches but i often use a mag block. They are a PITA but its takes time to get use to shaving the magnisium off, using tghe striker and having proper materials at the ready for your fire. if im in a hurry Ill use the striker to light up a triox tab..
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Old 08-09-2008, 10:15   #51
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Just found out today...

I just found out today that my fire starter tabs from, I believe Gerber; you know the ones that claim they will light on top of water, well anyways, they would not ignite? None of the 9 I had would not ignite even under a propane blow torch. They are about 6-7 years old and were in my survival kit. Bottom line is, to check your gear before you pack it to make sure it works first. HMMMmmm, sounds like somebody I know here on this forum!

Last edited by MAB32; 08-09-2008 at 10:17.
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Old 08-09-2008, 11:08   #52
The Reaper
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Originally Posted by MAB32 View Post
I just found out today that my fire starter tabs from, I believe Gerber; you know the ones that claim they will light on top of water, well anyways, they would not ignite? None of the 9 I had would not ignite even under a propane blow torch. They are about 6-7 years old and were in my survival kit. Bottom line is, to check your gear before you pack it to make sure it works first. HMMMmmm, sounds like somebody I know here on this forum!
Has anyone checked the expiration dates on their survival gear lately?

I have seen some people put that sort of stuff on their calendar to remind them to check it.

Many products are good well beyond their expiration dates, especially if stored in a cool, dark, dry place, but you have to test them. The worst place to store items with a limited shelf life is in a car. Next worst would be an attic, then the garage. Yes, I understand that is where many people store items they do not often use. A basement is usually great.

If you check the MRE threads, you will see that every ten degrees storage temp above 50 or so cuts the shelf life almost in half.

Great advice, MAB.

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat." - President Theodore Roosevelt, 1910

De Oppresso Liber 01/20/2025
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Old 08-10-2008, 11:33   #53
D9 (RIP)
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In spite of the previously posted frustrations I also like the magnesium blocks. I spent a little time practicing with mine and now I've got it down and it's reliable, but it is not an easy to use product right out of the package. The thing I like most is its durability (wet/dry), small size, and light weight. Also, I think it only ran me $5.

I've also got an emergency flint starter that works very well, and is relatively small and light. A little pricier at about $20.

Of course, I keep several Bics spread throughout my kit as the first option. But if the possibility of long-term survival situations is considered, I think the longevity of the flint tool or mag block are serious benefits.
El Diablo sabe mas por viejo que por diablo.
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Old 08-10-2008, 13:04   #54
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If you or any other QP's want one, they still have a NSN and I am sure can still be ordered through the proper channels.
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Old 08-10-2008, 14:30   #55
D9 (RIP)
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If you don't mind post the NSN. Thanks.
El Diablo sabe mas por viejo que por diablo.
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Old 08-10-2008, 15:45   #56
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It is written on the magnesium on mine. Here it is: 4240-01-160-5618. Let me know if it does or does not go through. I will check my Airforce Survival books for what they say is the NSN in their kits.
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Old 08-10-2008, 16:35   #57
Juliet Delta
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Fire building has always been an interest of mine. I had the pleasure to spend some time with a true survival expert a couple years ago, and learned a lot from it.

Regarding the bow drill....it's all about selecting the proper wood to use. The most challenging part for me, at the time, was identifying which trees to select for material.

With a kit made, it took little more than 30 seconds to get an ember under ideal weather conditions. I've tried making a kit in the rain, and just after...and not had good success. Ceder and Willow are two of the better woods I know of, for use in the fireboard and spindle. This is certainly a skill that requires practice, as the fine points can really make or break your shot at a fire. After a few times doing it, you start to get a feel for it.

This site goes over the terminology, concept, and technique in about as best detail as I've found in written form. http://wildwoodsurvival.com/survival...cbowdrill.html

The person I learned under operates out of central Virginia.
I can't recommend him highly enough. Flint knapping, bow building, fire making, snare and trap construction, debris shelters...etc. I would go back to him before I looked up Tom Brown. He did mention that Tom had him beat when it came to tracking though, hands down.

Personally, I carry 2 bics, a flint rod (fake flint), and look for tinder and kindling. I have had Bic's fail me, if their striker was allowed to get wet. What I do now with them, is duct tape a loop of 550 cord to the bottom of the lighter, then hang the lighter around my neck once I get into camp, upside down (protects flint from droplets).

Dryer lint is wonderful tinder, as is "Fire ribbon" or "rat dung" (the toothpaste container of fire-putty). All you need to do is hit it with a spark...it'll even float on water and burn. I've been able to use this stuff to ignite stubborn damp kindling. Birch bark is great if you can find it, as is the inner ceder bark (fibrous material).

Another trick I've seen is to whittle away on some fir/ ceder and create a large handful of shavings. It'll take more than a spark to ignite, but can act as a good bridge between your match and some medium sized kindling.

Small candles are under-rated, also. It's pretty easy to light a candle with a match, and pretty easy to light a large fire with a candle.

All the best,
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Old 11-02-2008, 18:03   #58
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Nice thread.

I am a big believer in redundancy, so I carry fire 3 ways: Bic (zip tie to prevent fuel button from being accidentally pressed), matches in safe (w/ mini compass and a cotton ball for tinder/noise reduction), and fire steel.

The fire steel is a PITA to use sometimes. As others have said, the tinder is the key. It must be fine enough to 'catch' a spark. As Col Moroney (RIP) pointed out, cattails work well if fluffed up; in the same way the seed pods from thistles are oily and can work well. I have scraped the dry interior of bark to form a kind of lint that can catch a spark. I have also scraped my pants with the edge of a knife to form 'dryer lint' -- this requires that you have some dry clothing though. And are desperate enough to abuse your clothes.

I do practice with the fire steel because it can be tricky to get it to work. As one poster mentioned, I find it is best to keep the striker still with the tinder on a flat surface and pull the fire steel to avoid smacking the tinder you so painstakingly assembled. I have also found it works to cup the tinder and steel in your hand and pull the striker toward the tinder. You now are holding a small fire in your hand, so you better have prepared some more tinder and kindling to light with the little flame created thereby.

I've never had a Bic fail -- at least not since zip tying them closed -- and a few Bics are probably all you need. (In cold weather keep one in an interior pocket to keep it warm.) But I still think it's a good idea to feel confident using other techniques.

My 2 cents. (Sorry for the poor picture quality, I think I need a new camera)
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Old 12-09-2008, 12:56   #59
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Found these while surfing the web. They also appear to be very cheap.

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Old 12-09-2008, 16:03   #60
Soft Target
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OK, Time for a Fire Story

During Robin Sage, an allied officer (SEAL) was burning a lighter knot to ward off the Uwharrie cold. We heard helicopters approaching and, since we didn't have any, we began to take immediate action. He proceeded to "stamp out" his smoldering lighter knot. We found some concealment and noted a terrible smell of rubber burning. You can guess where it was coming from; only PERSEC keeps me from identifying Jim F. - You know who you are.
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