Contributors to this thread:
For those that like to hunt in remote areas. Here’s a skill worth learning. Might even save your life someday or somebody else’s. This is for those interested in giving it a try.
When you get an ember. You have to carefully put it into your Tinder bundle.
I used Red Cedar bark for my tinder bundle. Works very well.
Great skill to have! What are the sticks from?
Then you just blow your ember into a flame. It’s a skill worth learning. Anybody up for the challenge? Make sure all your material is dry. And use the best materials in your area. Good luck!
Don, your a modern day Jeremiah Johnson... "good fire pilgrim"! Good posts.
Thanks Lou and Eric. The stalks are Yucca. And the fire board is Bass wood Lou. I recommend trying the bow drill first for those wanting to try it. It’s much easier. Red Cedar, Bass wood, Cotton Wood, Willow, Spruce, Yellow Poplar are some woods that work very well for the bow drill. Watch some utube videos.
Don, are you retired also? LOL! I retired a 1yr or so and find myself on bowsite often, I notice you are to!
I was going to teach a youth group that skill one time and then cook chicken on a fire for an event. Figured I'd better make sure I could do it prior to teaching. Found out to my dismay I couldn't make it happen, and upon a small bit of research found that wood selection is the #1 variable in making this thing work or not for the average guy.
Changed up my wood and made it happen, so it was quite fun to do in the end. There I was jumping around in my garage when I made fire like a regular cave man lol. It's not enough to think you know a life-saving skill. Best to try it once before you need it ;)
The wood type was my first thought also Adam. I had a few dead weeping willow trees on my place that even though they had been piled up dead for several years, I couldn't get a real burn out of that pile even when it was soaked in diesel fuel! It'd flare up and then just smoulder. Now oak, pine, or ash on the other hand is perfect!
A Bic lighter, or 5, doesn't take up much space in my pack. :-) Just kidding. Making fire with sticks is a very valuable skill to have.
I sure would like to know the story of the first guy to figure out he could create a fire like this. I wonder when that actually happened. I figure he was trying to bore a hole in some wood to make something and it started smoking.
this is something I'm trying to master this week
I tried again this weekend I'm getting ash/dust and lots of smoke, no embers
materials are EVERYTHING I think .... I cut standing dead sycamore and some spindle materials, I have red cedar too .... one day this week I'm going to process it all down into some boards/spindle/bows and go at it again
I really want to learn how to do this! Thanks for the tips................................
One of the many skills I learned in the Boy Scouts and remember. Good stuff, thanks for posting
Don, I much prefer a flint and steel. I guess you could scavenge some flint on the ground and use the back of your knife but a flint and steel set with some dry char cloth is quick foolproof.
Quick & fool-proof is highly desirable, although there is something to be said for being able to pick up what you need right off the ground, no matter where you happen to be.
So what’s the trick here? Use softwood for the spindle and something harder for the hearth-board?
The best dry materials you can find in your neck of the woods. Softer woods work the best. Stay away from the hard woods. Like Oak.
Using sticks, hand drill, bow drill or other types of friction would be useful in a true survival situation but type of wood does matter and it takes time to be confident of your ability to get an ember.
Any of us should be able to easily and quickly start a fire using ferrocerium and steel. Ferro rods are not expensive and throw high temperature sparks capable of igniting many different types of tinder. They will throw sparks when wet and never stop working. I have a few ferro rods that I stash in my daypack, hunting pack and even have one on my Leatherman Signal Multitool. Couple that with a firestarter such as Bigfoot Bushcraft starters and you can make a fire even in damp conditions.
Good information Phil. Hyperthermia is a killer. The more ways you know how to make a fire the better off you are. In a bad situation. A fire is a big morale booster on a cold dark wet night. Funny you bring up Ferro rods Phil. I agree that’s about the easiest way to make a fire. Did you ever watch that show survivor on TV? It’s amazing how many people have tried to make fire with a ferro rod on that show and couldn’t do it. You need to practice. What ever method you choose. Be safe out there.
When everything is soaked, it's 35 degrees in a pouring rain with a 30 mph wind, it can be very hard to start a fire in a survival situation even with a propane torch. No one is truly ready to build a survival fire unless they've practiced it successfully under horrid conditions.
You make a very good point Greg. Big difference making a fire in nice weather Verses stormy cold wet conditions.
I have been out in conditions under which a highway flare would not have felt like overkill… Ferro rods are wonderful under mild conditions, especially if you keep a modest supply of birchbark at the ready….
I think having the demonstrated ability to make a friction fire can not be overly valued, but I am not at all ashamed to say that I take some pains to never be without some 20th-22nd Century alternatives close at hand. Seems like a fire is almost always nice to have, but when you Need one, you generally REALLY NEED it, and a large one some time ago would have been the smart move.
So Rule #1, never put that off if you can avoid it. ;)
Aspen Ghost you're quite right. Practice and knowing how to set up and which local materials give you the best chance of success is key
I thought a friction fire was when an insurance policy rubbed up against a mortgage.
I have five different ways to make fire in my survival kit, which goes with me everywhere. None of them involve a bow drill. It's a fun novelty hobby, but not something to count on when truly trying to survive.
"I have five different ways to make fire in my survival kit, which goes with me everywhere. None of them involve a bow drill. It's a fun novelty hobby, but not something to count on when truly trying to survive."
My device of choice for starting a friction fire is a Bic lighter.
“It's a fun novelty hobby, but not something to count on when truly trying to survive.”
Odd that our ancestors survived to become our ancestors using their “fun, novelty hobby” skills…..
Nice to be Us, where we have so much more choice as to how much risk we want to take on…
I don't trust Bic lighters after having a few experiences where they, or my thumb were wet amd wouldnt ignite. I do trust a windproof butane lighter with a piezo igniter as a first choice.
Every outdoorsman needs to read Jack London's classic short story, "To Build a Fire".
Disposable propane lighters don’t do well when the temp gets into the low teens. I found that out the hard way. Now I carry multiple items to start a fire as well including Bic lighters. Esbit stove heat tabs will start fires in most conditions.
Building a fire in the pouring rain isn’t easy but where I live it’s always possible to find dry tinder whether inside a dead tree or under a rock overhang.
Cotton balls and vasoline, dryer lint and vasoline, pyro putty. Just add a spark. But the friction fire is pretty darn awesome too. And the new electric lighters you charge up with a USB are amazing.
An ELECTRIC LIGHTER?! Oh no, that's cheating. Only for the lazy! ;-)
You can make fire with steel wool and a nine volt battery too. You can also use a magnifying glass. But only when the sun is out.
As you can see I’ve tried many different combinations of wood types with the bow drill. Bow drill takes a lot less effort. And much easier on your hands.
Don, you started a hot topic... seems this thread has caused some friction;0]
For those interested in giving the Bow drill a try. here’s a list of good woods to use. willow, password, Red Cedar, white cedar, balsam, fir, juniper, Cottonwood, Box Elder, birch, red pine, white pine, yellow birch, yellow poplar, sycamore to name a few. Good luck!
Well Eric one thing I’ve learned in life. Besides the hand drill and bow drill. You can’t make everyone happy. I think this thread did a lot better then my Fred Bear thread any how;)
That password up top was suppose to be American Bass Wood. I can’t leave that one out.
Yucca stalks make great "Moses sticks"... walking sticks. I make them about eye ball high. Still got one from my years in Arizona that is 40 years old and still good. Lightweight and strong
I smooth them down with knife and sand paper, not super smooth... and then take a propane torch and use to it to burn off fuzz and splinters and stuff. Plus looks nice to me.
The true test is to make fire from ice.
this Friday is friction fire day for me - I will do it
I've got red cedar and sycamore to work with for the plank, several spindle and bow materials and handles
I've come across though, the Rudiger Roll method - like this
Now the thing is .... googling will show you that there are a lot of natural fibers like yucca that can work too and for the accelerant (ash) finely crushed shell or walnut hulls too even can work
better than bow? I dunno ..... but by end of Friday I'll know ;)
I’m looking forward to hearing the results Brad. Good luck!
Hopefully this post will get at least one guy on here to give it a try. Sure hope you post your results. Good luck!
Around here punky hemlock is ubiquitous due to the wooly adelgid kkill. hemlock punk is hard to beat for catching the spark. White pine resin is easy to find on scarred trunks and makes a good accelerator. Yellow buckeye or cucumber tree are great for the fireboard and the spindles can be made from dogwood or sourwood shoots. Hickory is best for the bow. Cordage is not as easy here. When I used to "play" with bow drill fire starting I used rawhide thongs. Now I carry a Bic, water proof matches, and a magnesium Firestarter. Get some punk, some resin, and some small side trunk twigs from black pine or white pine , get under a rock overhang or a bushy hemlock or arborvitae, set up on a dry flat rock and shelter from wind and rain with your body or a coat, poncho or tarp supported on poles get the punk going and add tiny dry twigs or dry inner bark strings from tulip poplar or yellow locust, add some resin and larger dry twigs and soon you can feed wet wood if necessary. I've often made fires this way in rain or falling snow.
Another good addition to the "fire kit" is a couple of the cheap little votive candles. They're pure wax and can be use to light damp twigs
Around here pines don't work well, as there is too much sap and pitch in the wood so it gets slick. You want a wood that grinds on itself and doesn't slick up.
cotton ball and ash - easy
dried yucca and ash I almost got a flame and would have if I could have processed the yuccas fibers better
hickory spindle, sycamore plank and I burned gorgeous black ash and stunk like a smokehouse and got little embers that went out quick ... and I wore out eventually :(
I got a good ember tonight again. Using Yucca stalk and Bass wood fire board. Using the bow drill method. Got the ember in less then a minute.
Blowing the ember into a flame. You can’t beat a Cedar bark tinder bundle. Or birds nest.
Want to get good at it? Practice it often until you do.
You need to practice the amount of pressure you put on the spindle. When you start to see smoke go a little faster. But again I don’t recommend doing the bow drill in the house;)
Don't get me wrong, it's a great talent to have, but the thing is when needed in a survival situation beggars can't be choosers in wood selection and it's likely soaking wet from rain or snow, and no dry tinder to be found... Kinda like the Jeremiah Johnson scene where the pine tree snow falls on his open fire... If you're going to carry selected woods for a bow and drill, take a couple BIC lighters or a dozen.... Much smaller, lighter in weight and much more dependable... Although personally do carry small ferro rods to my pull tabs on my packs just in case...8^)
Zbone I agree, like flintknapping it's one of those skill I wanted to own more for understanding than utility. When I go hunting I use manufactured broadheads and when I'm afield I carry two mini Bic lighters, waterproof matches, dryer lint, a votive candle or two and the magnesium fire starter. All that fits in a pint Ziploc bag with room to spare
I hear you Zbone and fuzzy. You can’t beat a magnesium fire starter, backed up with a zippo lighter in but what happens if you happen to lose your fire starting items well out on a remote hunting trip? it never hurts to have a back up.
If I lose my clothes in the back country in cold weather I'm screwed anyway. Have to lose my pants to lose my fire kit in the pocket.
Yeah in my hunting pack have always carried 2 BICs, small knife and bigger knife for gutting, a headlamp and backup penlight, and a bottled water... Matter of fact have recently been revamping my bug out bags to each vehicle...
Bushcraft skills are great to learn and know, wish I had the time to master, but unfortunately if my survival depended upon a bow and friction drill, I wouldn't last long...8^)