Fire. It’s one of man’s oldest accomplishments predating art, clothes, politics, MTV, One Direction and the possibility of nuclear annihilation leading to the rise of radioactive mutant zombies that want nothing better than to chow down on your brains. You can use fire to cook food, heat water, provide warmth and light on the darkest, coldest night and, of course, destroy the undead, but have you ever given any thought to how you’d start a fire without a match? After all, when civilisation collapses, it’s likely you’ll run out of matches pretty damn quickly. What will you do then? I know there’ll be some smart alec out there who’s brandishing a lighter and saying ‘I’d just use my trusty Zippo!’, but that will soon run out of fuel and flints, and when that happens it’ll be about as useful as a chocolate teapot.
So, when your back’s really up against it, how do you start a fire without a match? Well, it’s actually surprisingly easy. All you need is a bit of sun (just a few seconds will do) and some imagination.
The first way is to use something called a solar lighter. This is a nifty little gadget made of polished metal which can be used to concentrate the sun’s rays onto a flammable object, and as the video below shows, if you happen to have one, like I do, you can start a fire in seconds.
Pretty cool, right? But what do you do if you don’t have one of these to hand? Well, go and get one now so that you’re prepared. If you happen to be watching this and the apocalypse has already happened (I’m not going to ask how you’re still managing to get online so you can read this!), then you’ll need another option. How about using an old soda can? You read that correctly, you can start a fire with a soda can. This works on exactly the same principle, and you can see how to do it here:
What happens if you can’t find a soda can? How about using a bottle of water? I know what you’re thinking, how on Earth do you start a fire with water? Actually, it’s quite simple. Do you remember as a kid when that horrible little boy down the street used to fry ants with a magnifying glass just for fun? Well, it turns out he was onto something. Using exactly the same principle, you can use the water in a water bottle to create a lens which can be used to focus sunlight so it can be used to set things on fire. You don’t believe me? Just watch this video:
But what do you do if you don’t have any water? Believe it or not, you can use urine! You heard that right, you can start a fire with your own pee. Watch and learn, you never know, one day it might save your life. Or more likely, let you win a few bets by demonstrating how it can be done:
Ahhh, I hear you say, but what happens if there isn’t any sun, you know, like at night, or in the middle of summer in Aberdeen (if you’ve ever lived in Aberdeen in Scotland, you’ll know what I’m talking about!). Well, remember that old Boy Scout trick of rubbing two sticks together? This actually works, and it’s all based on the fact that when you rub things together you generate friction and friction generates heat. Here’s how:
This is just one way to generate fire through friction, and there are many other approaches, including fire bows and fire drills. You can find a comparison of all these different techniques here (although, as you will see, you need to be a bit of an expert to actually get these techniques to work):
Any if you don’t have any sticks? How about rubbing two stones together? Well, not really rubbing, more like striking one against the other. This is the most primitive way to produce fire and is probably the first one that humans ever used. You can see someone using this method here:
Of course, all these methods will only give you the initial spark. If you actually want to create a fire, you’ll need to know how to select the right tinder, kindling and wood, and how to build your fire so it won’t simply smoke for a few minutes before fizzling out, but that’s a whole different article altogether!
From the author of For Those In Peril On The Sea, a tale of post-apocalyptic survival in a world where zombie-like infected rule the land and all the last few human survivors can do is stay on their boats and try to survive. Now available in print and as a Kindle ebook. Click here or visit www.forthoseinperil.net to find out more. To download a preview of the first three chapters, click here.
To read the Foreword Clarion Review of For Those In Peril On The Sea (where it scored five stars out of five) click here.