When the Zombie Apocalypse comes and both the streets and countryside is filled with bite-ies, the power grid is down and the supermarkets outside the few safe zones are not being restocked you will need fire to keep warm and to cook food.
You will need fire to survive, there is no other way for me to say it, your basic survival depends on fire. It keeps you warm and it allows you to cook nutritious food as well as scare off any animals if you are sleeping rough in the woods… just don’t expect it to scare off the bite-ies… it won’t.
Ok so when society is no longer function and you need to start a fire in the traditional sense and you do not have any matches what do you? There are two main ways to start a fire… one is by using friction such as rubbing things together until they get hot and the other is to start a fire using a lens to magnify light into a very hot beam on dry material.
It is a good idea that you try and remember all of these methods as you never know when you will need them and at times one method would suit the circumstances and environment better.
Friction Fire Starting.
1 Using A Hand Drill
This is the most primitive method and probably the hardest of all of them to do. It requires some wood (a fireboard and a spindle) and the ability to keep going without getting tired and giving up. Before the zombie apocalypse struck I watched a programme where several grown men who were abandoned on an island and left to survive struggled to start a fire using this method. Believe me, they were not all wet behind the ears or weaklings.
Build a tinder nest: This should be made from stuff that catches fire easily like dry grass, bark or leaves and this nest will catch the spark you make with your drill.
Make your notch & depression: On your piece of wood cut a v shaped notch into it and next to that make a small dent or depression.. This is your fireboard.
Place some bark next to the V notch: The bark is used to catch the ember generated from the friction caused between the fireboard and the drill.
Start spinning: Place the drill into the depression on the fireboard and start spinning. For this to work properly your drill needs to be at least two feet long and keeping the pressure on the board roll the spindle between the palms of your hands. To maintain the pressure run the hands down the drill towards the fireboard. Keep rolling until you create an ember on the fireboard.
Start the fire: When an ember is formed tap the board to drop the glowing ember onto the piece of bark which is used to carry the ember to the tinder nest. Drop the hot ember into the nest and gently blow on it to allow the dry material to ignite and catch fire.
2 The Fire Plough
Prepare Your Fireboard: Make a groove in the fireboard to take the spindle.
Rub: Take the spindle and place the tip in the groove of the fireboard and start rubbing the drill tip hard up and down the groove.
Start a fire: Place the nest of dry tinder at the end of the board so that any hot embers which are formed are pushed down into it. When any hot embers have fallen into the nest start your fire by gently blowing the nest to help it ignite and catch fire.
3 Bow Drill.
This is the best of the friction style firestarters as it allows you to maintain the pressure and speed required to generate hot embers far easier than the previous methods. It requires a couple of other specific parts for this to work.
Make a socket: The socket is placed on top of the drill and held down firmly to add pressure to the drill while it is being rotated by the bow. The socket can be made from wood or stone but must be harder than the wood used as the drill otherwise it will get worn away easily. If the wood has sap or oil in the fibres this is good as it will act like a lubricant and allow the drill to turn easily.
Make your bow: The bow needs to be flexible with a slight curve and be roughly the same length as your arm. The string of the bow can be anything as long as it is durable. A shoelace will be ideal as most people should have access to one of those during the ZA. Rope or a piece of animal hide will work well too. String up the bow and then you are ready to make fire.
Prepare the fireboard: Just as you do with the Drill method cut a V shape into your fireboard along with a dent or depression to take the tip of the drill. Under the notch place your tinder.
Attach the drill to the bow: Create a loop in the bow string and place the drill through it. place the drill tip into the depression on the fireboard and place the socket on the other end applying pressure to it.
Start sawing: Hold your bow and start a sawing motion with your arm, sawing back and forth. Technically you are drilling into the fireboard, the drill should be spinning really fast with a good pressure being exerted onto it via the socket. Keep sawing and drilling until you have created a hot glowing ember.
Start a fire: Drop any hot embers into the tinder nest and blow gently to help it ignite and catch a light.
4 Flint and Steel
This is a great old meets new combo. Way back in the old days fires were started by creating sparks by rubbing pieces of flint and steel together. Matches can get wet and become useless but steel and flint can be wiped dry.
A more modern version of the steel and flint set is this Swedish FireSteel Army tool available on Amazon.
I always carry around a couple of Swedish FireSteel tools whenever I go out slaying bite-ies. I have one attached to my keys and another one in a zipped up pocket in my slaying jacket. I just cannot risk being stranded out in the Bad Lands without any means of starting a fire for warmth or for cooking.
Another great fire starting tool is the Everstrkye Match which the people over at Survival Life are giving away for free so if you want and need a way to make fire in all conditions which does not require lugging around a lot of heavy fuels or firelighters that can be ruined by water like matches then get yourself one of these before they stop giving them away.
If you prefer to go old skool and not carry around one of the extremely small and life saving kits as seen above then you can start a fire by using a flint or a quartzite stone and a steel pocket knife blade if you do not have a steel striker. You do carry a pocket knife or some kind of blade with you when out in the Bad Lands don’t you?
You will also need a char with you, a char is a cloth that has been turned into charcoal. A char will catch embers and keep them burning without bursting into flames. The problem is you will need to have a char with you before venturing out and I don’t know how many of you will have one. How do you make a char… well you need to burn cloth so you are unlikely to make one for the sole purpose of making fire then you don’t have a fire… no you see why the modern fire starting tools are great to have.
However if you do not have a char a piece of birch or fungus will do.
Grip the char and rock: Hold the rock between your thumb and forefinger making sure that you have around 2 or 3 inches of rock sticking out. Hold the char between your thumb and the rock.
Strike: Holding the back of the steel blade or steel striker strike the steel against the flint or rock several times. Sparks from the steel will fly off and land on the char causing it to glow.
Start a fire: Fold up the char cloth and place it into the tinder nest and gently blow on it until the tinder ignites and catches fire.
So that is the friction fire starting methods, let’s move onto the lens based based fire starting.
Some light mid post entertainment for you twisted fire starters 🙂
Lens Fire Starting
Carrying a small magnifying glass is great because as well as helping to see really small things it can be used to start fires and get rid of the need to carry matches which can become wet and useless.
All boys should have at some time in their lives tortured ants or melted plastic toys with a magnifying glass so this should not be a new skill to them but for the girls who were a lot less horrible as children this might be new to you.
5 Generally Lenses.
To start a fire you simply require a lens, any will do as long as it is from a pair of glasses, binoculars or a magnifying glass. Adding water to the lens can intensify its power.
The idea is to angle the lense so that it catches the sun and then it points a hot focused beam onto a small combustible area like a cloth or a tinder nest. It shouldn’t be long before you have fire.
There is a big downside to starting fire this way and that is that it can only be done during the daylight hours and if there is sun showing. If you need fire at night or on a dark cloudy day then you can forget it and you will need to use something else.
Did I mention how great the new modern Swedish style FireSteel fire starting tools are? 🙂
There are some ‘other’ lenses that you can use to start fire and they are as strange as they are odd.
6 Ice Fire Starter
Yes! yes you can start fire from ice… what you need to do is find some ice and shape it into a lens shape and use it just as you would any other lens. This can be very handy when winter sets in and you have lost your Everstrkye Match tool… as long as the sun is shining of course.
Clear water ice: Find some ice from a frozen pond or lake which should be clear and shape it into a lens or add some clear water to a cup, a container or a bowl and leave out to freeze. Using a bowl will give it a lens shape. It needs to be 2 inches thick and must be free from impurities and be completely clear for this to work.
Water must be clear so use melted snow, water from a lake or from a clear pond.
Form the lens: Use a knife or a scraper to scrape the ice into a lens shape making sure that it is thicker in the middle and narrower at the edge.
Polishing the lens: The best way to polish an ice lens is by using your hands, the heat from them will melt the ice surface allowing you to create a smooth surface to the curve.
Start a fire: Angle the ice lens towards the sun and aim it at your nest of tinder and watch as a fire will spring from nowhere.
7 A Chocolate Bar & A Drinks Can
This is a very bizarre method but could be useful in the ZA, there might be a few old drinks cans kicking about and you might have a couple yourself… you might not have a chocolate bar however tooth paste or a bar of soap will work just as well.
The bottom of the can will act like a parabolic mirror, sunlight will reflect from it creating a single focal point of intense light and heat.
Polish the can bottom with chocolate: The chocolate acts as a cleaning and polishing agent. Rub it over the can bottom with your fingers until the bottom of the can has a shiny reflective surface.
Start a fire: Create a tinder nest and angle the can so that it catches the sun’s rays and aims them at the nest. Watch as fire springs forth from nothing
8 Balloons and Condoms
By filling these with water you can turn them from playful fun objects 😉 into life saving fire creating lenses.
Fill the balloon or condom and tie off the ends. Try to make them as spherical as possible but do not overfill them as it can distort the light travelling through them. Give them a squeeze to create smaller balls and hold them 1-2 inches away from the tinder. These lenses have a shorter focal length compared to other lenses and so need to be held closer to the tinder.
9 Batteries and Steel Wool
During the zombie apocalypse you will be raiding stores and people’s houses and if you find any batteries and steel wool take them as these items could save your life. Steel wool pressed against battery terminals will light up like naplam and is ideal for starting a campfire. Any battery will do but the 9-volt batteries work best.
Stretch out the steel wool: Stretch out the wool to a length of about 6 inches long and half an inch wide.
Rub the battery on the wool: While holding the wool in one hand, hold the the battery in the other and rub the battery contact/terminal along the wool. The steel wool will allow the electric current to run through it but as the wire is so thin they will begin to get hot and glow. Gently blow on it and it will ignite.
Transfer the wool fire to your tinder nest: The wool fire will go out quickly as there is nothing to keep it burning so it needs transferring to your tinder nest quickly. Add it to your nest and blow gently and watch as fire is born.
So there you have it, 9 ways to make fire without matches in the zombie apocalypse. Some are really good and some are very unusual but they will all give you fire when you need it most… well some cannot give fire at night or when the sun is not shining so once again I say get prepared and get yourself an all weather fire starting tool that you can use at anytime, anywhere which is seriously lightweight.
Who knows, one day your life will depend on it.
Until the next time,