Starting a fire with sticks and rubbing them together is an age-old party trick, but it’s more complicated than you might think!
The key to avoiding a friction fire is making sure all materials are dry. The best way to achieve this is by leaving everything outside in the sun, turning it over periodically.
Make a Tinder Nest
Tinder nests are made up of dry materials to ignite fire. Commonly made up of dried grass, bark and other lightweight items that maximize surface area and air flow for combustion, this technique has proven highly successful in survival situations.
Tinder Nests often make use of dried leaves (especially crushed), dead twigs and pine needles. These materials can be easily found and may even be quite dry; however they must be fluffed up slightly so they can catch a spark.
Chaga fungus is another great tinder material and it grows on birch trees. Although it can be difficult to process and messy, the material itself is highly flammable.
Punk wood is an ideal tinder and it can be found in tree trunks that have decayed away. It looks so decayed that it resembles Styrofoam and crumbles easily when ignited. While not as flammable as other types of tinder, punk wood still provides plenty of heat when needed for starting a fire.
Fatwood makes an excellent tinder, coming from within a tree that has been cut down. It contains terpene – an explosive compound.
Make your own tinder by finely grinding up dead plant fibers into a powder with either a hand chopper or sharp knife. Combining different tinders can give off more intense flames.
Other tinders that can be used include cattail flowers and plant downs collected from leaves of certain plants. These latter tinders burn slower than their more famous counterparts, but are easier to collect and release.
Tinder bundles are essential tools for starting a fire and should always be included in your survival gear. Store them safely in an airtight container like an Altoids tin or zip lock bag for added protection.
The Bow Drill
Being lost in the wilderness with no matches or lighters can be a terrifying prospect. While you may be able to survive by staying warm and dry, your odds for success increase significantly if you have access to fuel for starting a fire.
If you want to survive in the wilderness, learning how to make fire from sticks is a must. While this can be a difficult process, once you understand its basics, it could save your life.
The Bow Drill (also known as the Stick Drill) is an effective tool for making fire by rubbing two pieces of wood together. It’s essential to have in any bushcraft arsenal since you can use it for many different tasks.
Your homemade bow drill kit needs three components: the spindle, fireboard and tinder. For optimal performance, select dry woods that easily ignite hot dust when exposed to friction.
Some softwoods, like Coastal Cypress, are ideal for this task. Being softer than hardwoods, they can help produce more consistent coal. However, if you are new to wood-friction fires or have limited experience with them, it may be necessary to experiment and practice with various types of wood before finding which ones work best for your needs.
Once you have all your materials, it’s time to begin building your bow drill kit. A foot-long spindle and fireboard made out of dry wood should be used – 15 inches long, 2 inches thick and as straight as possible to minimize wobbling during rotation.
Next, you need a string strong enough and reliable enough for use with the bow drill. This could be either natural cordage (like tendon sinews of game animals) or synthetic, like paracord.
Your bow-drill is a delicate instrument, and if not handled carefully, it could break. To keep it running smoothly and securely in difficult circumstances, try using cordage such as paracord to reinforce its joints.
The Fire Bow
A fire bow is an essential bushcraft tool that allows you to start small friction fires. These small flames are used for burning tinder and kindling in order to ignite larger friction fires that will eventually ignite a campfire.
Bow drills are an excellent way to learn how to make fire from sticks, but they can be challenging without the right gear. Fortunately, there are some tools that make the process simpler and much more enjoyable.
To start a fire with a bow drill, you will need a long stick that’s slightly curved and about half an inch thick. Additionally, some cordage to attach it to the bow; strong synthetic cord works best, though paracord can also be used.
Once you have your tools, cut a notch in the fire board with your knife or rock. Make it wide enough for a pencil-sized stick to fit into and large enough for it to spin freely without sliding around. You may need to use another piece of wood or foot as support while drilling.
Next, you need a spindle that’s approximately half an inch long and slightly wider than your pencil-like stick. This will give you more grip while spinning, making the entire process smoother.
You will also need some tinder and kindling to start the fire created with your spindle. These can be any dry sticks or splinters about as thin as a pencil; the drier the stick, the greater its likelihood for ignition.
When selecting bushcraft tools, the wood of your bow, spindle and hearth plate should be chosen carefully. Softer hardwoods like basswood, aspen, willow or poplar work better than harder hardwoods such as maple.
When spinning the spindle, make sure it has an even slope at the bottom end so it doesn’t jump out of its notch in the fire board when you twist. Furthermore, ensure the size of the notch on your fireboard isn’t too large as to make inserting the spindle difficult.
The Stick Drill
Sticks used for fire making can be an excellent opportunity to practice hand and wrist strength. Furthermore, it will teach you to squat your feet and swing along the line closest to the ball, improving club face alignment and creating a better swing plane.
To use a stick drill to make fire, you will need a long, straight and durable wood or branch with one end honed and the other pointy onto an adhesive flat piece called a fireboard. Depending on your materials available, you can either carve this end for sharper edges or simply smooth away any rough spots which would cause it to slip.
Next, you will need a socket for your drill; something that keeps the narrow end stable but allows it to turn easily. These sockets can be found at most hardware stores or you may be able to craft something out of other materials that does the same job.
Once you have your socket, take a tinder bundle and place it in the center of your fireboard. Next, gently wiggle your drill in and out until smoke begins to come out from it – this will indicate that enough friction has been created to generate heat.
As you continue to wiggle the drill, it will begin carving a groove into your fireboard’s base log. You should begin seeing black dust or flakes form on top and wisps of smoke coming from beneath your base log.
You can also try using your stick’s pointed end to rub the groove in your fireboard and into the tinder bundle to generate more heat. Start by rubbing slowly, applying downward pressure on the stick as your wood warms up. As speed increases, increase pressure and speed accordingly.
This method is an efficient way to generate heat, but it should be noted that this can be a painful experience. To reduce discomfort, try staying comfortable above your base log while running the stick through its groove in the fireboard.