Monday, February 9, 2009

Fire without matches...

I'm sure that you have heard the expression..."Prepare for the worse". I am trying to do that. Given the various prophecies regarding last day's events...I anticipate that things could get very primitive for a lot of us. It may be our lot to be thrust back into a pioneer-like lifestyle. Many LDS say when the topic of the pioneer way of life comes up that..."I could never be a pioneer...because I could have never survived how hard it was!". What they may not understand is that they may get their chance to find out! The challenge is to get people to understand that the conveniences that they now enjoy could disappear in a heartbeat...and that primitive living skills...or "bushcraft" could be all they have to rely upon to provide for their basic needs.

A few months ago I was having a conversation with a man and it came up that I had been practicing different methods of starting fire without using matches. His response to me was "It's good that people still know how to do garbage like that"...only he didn't say garbage. I just stood there in disbelief at how we could be on such totally different plains. It seems that in his mind...such skills are historical reenactments of a time that has been left in the dust because of the "modern" world's advances. Skills that are for dopes that have nothing but time on their hands...while they could be talking about the resolution on a plasma screen!

Having fire is right up there with air and water. The heat that comes from fire is at the most basic of human needs. It may not seem to be so with our heaters heating our homes...but understand...that such heat is an artificial security. We go outside...get chilled...and then run to the warmth of our cars or the next heated shelter. What if the gas that brings that heat to your home is interupted? What if you have no electricity! What if you get thrust from your home and have to sleep outside? You can die in hours because of exposure. Many have died recently in the east...because they got too cold when the electricity went out!

You might say..."But I'll just store a ton of matches!" That is a great idea! Please do. Anyone who has tried to make a fire without matches...especially some of the more primitive ways will tell you "I will never forget my matches again!" But...what if you get separated from your matches? What if your matches get ruined by getting wet? What if you light all of your 250 matches in your box...and then have no more?

Perhaps you say..."Then I will use a lighter". Lighters are would be good to have some on hand. long will your lighter last? What if your lighter leaks it's fuel? (after you use a slowly leaks) What if your lighter breaks? What if this primitive living lifestyle lasts longer than your supply of lighters? What if you are separated from your lighter?

In a worse case would be good to have other options.

Wildwood survival has what I believe is the best site on the internet for learning primitive firemaking skills. It offers great step by step instructions and videos. It has the old classics like bow drill...and fire plow...and other interesting methods like water from ice...and fire from a battery! It is a lot of fun...and work...and deeply satisfying to know that you could provide fire even if you were "naked in the wilderness".

There are other devices that you can purchase that aren't completely primitive that will start fire.

I bought a fire piston...but don't recommend them because my experience with them is that they have to be lubed up just right...and it can be really difficult to get an ember.

What I would recommend for everyone to have in their bug out bags is something that is small and doesn't require a bunch of skill to start a can get totally wet and frozen and still work...a tiny piece of it can make thousands of is swedish firesteel. I have these things tucked all over the place. I have one in each of our family bags...I have one in my leatherman case...etc...etc... I'd much rather have a firesteel than matches in a long-term survival situation. This winter my two older children...age 9 and 7 both could start a fire with a I am sure you could too!!

Happy firemaking!


  1. Another negative aspect of matches is that they have a shelf life which most people don't realize. I too have a few Swedish steel lighters but have since found a lighter that I like even better. I recently purchased the StrikeForce which has the steel rod enclosed in a plastic housing and the strike bar is also enclosed. The cap at the end has a fire starting material that will light even when wet. They also make the BlastMatch which can be used with one hand and a smaller version of these. They are all quality products that I highly recommend.
    Rich A

  2. I wonder what that shelf life is? I think that any sort of moisture just kills matches. I have gone to use old matches and they just slough off of the matchstick.

    I'll check out those products...thanks for the tip!