Fire is one of those things that’s become trivial in our daily lives. Turn the knob on your stove, push the automatic starter on your gas grill, or click your butane lighter, and there it is. Of course, you can do all of that using electricity, too – meaning you might never see an actual flame all day.
We’ve come a long way from having to rely on and maintain a fire as a necessary part of life. Yet, when we’re on the run from the zombies, we probably won’t be able to simply push a button to cook our food or heat our shelters. It’s time you learn how to start a fire properly, before you need it.
This is not a definitive list, but this post will outline a few of the easier methods for creating that essential first spark. If you want more of a challenge, you could always try rubbing sticks together.
1 – Strikers
This is the modern upgrade of the flint and steel combination. The materials differ from brand to brand, but the idea is the same: Strike object A against object B, get a spark.
Swedish Firesteel – Uses a ferrocerium rod, and is considered to be the class of this space of firestarters.
Gerber 31-000699 Bear Grylls Survival Series Fire Starter – Also uses a ferrocerium rod. Gerber is a very trusted name in survival gear, and this item is self contained in a waterproof housing in which you can also store tinder.
Magnesium block – These are a little bit cheaper, and the spark isn’t quite as hot. If you’re on a tight budget, or if you’re just looking for something to practice with, this is a fair place to start.
There are also some models designed to be operated with one hand. This could be useful if your zombie hunting ends in a terrible chainsaw accident.
Spark-lite – Designed for, and used by the military.
BlastMatch – I have not used one of these, but I have heard it is one of the easiest methods of starting a fire.
2 – Steel wool + battery
This is one of those things you probably would never consider until you’ve seen it in action, and you most likely have both items already at home. Just touch both ends of a battery to a bit of steel wool, and the steel wool catches fire immediately. It also burns long enough to give you a bit of time if you’re not a fire summoning deity.
One note, that should be obvious – it’s much, much easier to make this happen when the positive and negative ends of a battery are close together (such as a standard 9-volt, or the battery from a cellphone or digital camera.)
See it in action on YouTube by clicking here.
3 – Matches & lighters
Not much of a surprise here, right? Remember, the goal isn’t to be a pompous asshole and show off how awesome you are at making fire with cool tools. The goal is survival. Make it as easy as possible on yourself.
As far as lighters go, butane flames are impressive, but once they run out of fuel you’re stuck. With a regular lighter fluid lighter, you can still get sparks from the flint when they’re empty. Save yourself the cash and buy disposable bics instead of a fancy Zippo for your pack.
4 – Road flares
A road flare can be used to start a fire, and can also serve a dual purpose in your pack as a 30 minute torch. Expensive on a per-use basis, but definitely worth carrying as a backup to another firestarter for emergencies.
Of course, this is just the beginning. In order to build a fire you’ll need tinder ready to catch the spark, and firewood to maintain the flames. We’ll save those for another article.
Photo credit: quinn.anya