Build Ye Some Fire

Basic skills practice. This video was initially recorded with a different, smaller audience in mind. The emphasis was intended to be the commentary rather than the demonstration. So, I didn’t bother showing the actual process of assembling the tinder, striking the block etc. in the video. There are plenty of Youtubers who have covered this already.  The snapshots will suffice to fill in the details.

The point of the exercise was to emphasize preparedness. It may be a long shot, but any number of things could cripple our power grid. Potential threats include terrorism, financial collapse, or another Carrington event like the one that occurred in the 1800’s.

Stop for a moment and think just how dependent we are on electricity, fuel oil, or natural gas to heat our homes and cook our food. If a major, long term disaster  were to take place, have you ever considered how you would keep your family warm and fed?

Now a real test would be to attempt to make fire by friction. And I may do that someday. But there is only so much time, and we have to pick our spots on what skills to learn first.  If a person can stock up on simple and cheap provisions like wooden matches, lighters and lighter fluid, or in this case, a magnesium block, why not?  Having these on hand would give you many years worth of fire making ability.  That would also buy you plenty of time to learn how to rub two sticks together to achieve the same end result if need be.  Further, a surplus of these would put you miles ahead of most people in a crisis, and would also serve as a high value barter item.

You don’t want to be learning from scratch how to do this if  your families’ lives are dependent on your ability to do so.

Of course you also need firewood and tinder.  Acquiring these is another exercise altogether, but it can be done. You might not have them readily available, but you may have more options than you realize. Don’t overlook your resources. As you can see, even though I have pine needles at my disposal, I also saved our Christmas tree.  At $50 or more from a cut your own tree farm, why just throw it away after the holiday? Its dried branches makes for perfect tinder.


Magnesium burns very hot, so it makes an excellent starter. Simply pile up your tinder, scrape the magnesium block, collect the flakes. Then scratch the flint on the block to cause it to spark. Direct the sparks to the shavings pile to ignite the tinder. It takes a little effort, but it will work. Be ready to feed the small ignition with more small pieces of tinder but don’t suffocate it. Slow and steady wins many races.


Even with this relative ease, it isn’t always that simple. You might not always have good, dry tinder to work with. Or it might be too windy.  As I note in the brief results video, it took me quite a while to get this one going. That’s why I recommend you practice it now and then. You don’t want to be learning from scratch how to do this if  your families’ lives are dependent on your ability to do so.


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