Fire is essential in our lives, and its control was one of the earliest human discoveries. We need it to give warmth to our bodies, especially during cold days. It gives us light, enables us to cook our food, and keeps us safe from danger.
Early evidence of Homo erectus building a fire inside the cave.
has been around for millions of years. The discovery for the controlled use of fire was started by Homo erectus during the early stone age around 0.2 to 1.7 million years ago. Archaeologists discovered evidence of the controlled use of fire in Lake Turkana, Kenya, and Wonderwerk Cave, South Africa.
Let us now discuss below the benefits of fire during ancient times:
Benefits of fire in the ancient times
Hominids benefited greatly from the discovery of fire. It made them survive on cold nights and expand to different places with various climates. It helped them to live in caves, sleep on the ground, and protect their terrain. The fire also allowed the hominids to ward off dangerous animals lurking at them at night as they go to sleep.
The discovery of fire also led the hominids to cook and eat meat. Through fire, they can create tools such as a spear used for hunting and cutting meat as food. They also burn the grasses to hunt for animals instead of going after them in the wild.
In addition, they have found out that they can dry and preserve meat for future consumption using a fire. It has also protected the hominids from the danger caused by eating raw meat.
They understood how to build big fires that could clear the field and make it fertile. They have learned to plant crops apart from hunting for meat.
Meanwhile, they have started to learn to create art with the use of fire. They build statues and pots made of ivory, clay, and stone. Statues were used for worship, while pots were used for food.
It had also led to a special kind of interaction in the community. It brought people of all pages together to come and discuss things in the Hearth. The level of communication developed as well as the community's relationship with each other. They learn to divide things in the community, such as hunting, gathering wood for fuel, and building a fire. Those who know how to build a fire are considered the most powerful person in the community.
How to start a fire in the wild
Those mentioned above are some of the benefits of fire during ancient times, and of course, it is still relevant even today. We need fire to accomplish things inside our homes, in factories, and even in the wild.
Whenever we go out for adventures, we need fire, especially at night. Every man should know how to start a fire without matches because it is an essential survival skill. You will never guess when and where you will need to build a fire, especially when you're outdoors. You might get lost in the forest and forget your things. Or perhaps your matches will go wet, or the weather is extremely windy. Thus your matches or lighters are useless.
Here are some of the techniques to try on starting a fire:
Fire from friction (wood, sticks, and tinder nest)
This type of method is the most difficult. It involves many techniques such as hand drill, Fire Plough, flint and steel, and a bow drill.
In hand drill and Fire Plough, you need good wood, determination, and strong hands. You need to create a nest from dry grass, bark, or leaves. Next, you need to cut a V-shape notch on the fireboard and bark to catch the ember produced from spinning the spindle. The spindle is the stick that is used to create friction by spinning at the fireboard.
Then you will start spinning on the fireboard, produce heat from friction, and wait for embers to appear. When it appears, blow it gently to create a fire.
Choosing the wood and the spindle is crucial in these methods. The recommended types of wood and spindle are cedar, cottonwood, walnut, cypress, and aspen. The wood and spindle to be used must be dry as well.
Meanwhile, you will need a board, bow, socket, drill, and a cord in the bow drill technique. The socket will pressure the spindle as you spin it on the bow and the board. You can use a rock or wood as a socket in this technique. The cord can be anything you have, like a shoelace. Meanwhile, the bow can be made of wood with a slight curve.
Start sawing the bow back and forth. It will create friction between the spindle and the board. Embers will start to appear on the board and blow it gently until it creates a flame. Transfer the embers on dry leaves or tinder nests after that.
Fire from rocks and steel
Other materials to use are flint and steel instead of wood, sticks, and dry leaves. If you don't have these things with you, well, you can always improvise. You can use your pocket knife's steel blade, quartzite, birch, char cloth, or fungus. There's always something in your backpack that will resemble a flint, stone, or steel.
As soon as you have gathered these materials, begin to rub the steel with the char cloth or birch. Sparks will be produced from the steel and cause glowing on the birch or char cloth. Hold the fabric on the tinder nest, blow it gently to start a flame.
This method is one of the primitive ways of starting a fire. This is still very useful and applicable, especially when going out in the wild.
Fire from lens
Using a lens is also an easy method to make fire without a match. Any boy who knows how to melt green plastic army men knows how to do this. However, this method will work only when the sun is up. If it's nighttime, you can't use this method and make fire.
You will only need a magnifying glass to do this. You can use a magnifying lens, binocular lens, or eyeglasses to create a fire. Adding water to the lenses can intensify the beam. The first thing to do is to put the lens towards the heat of the sun. Next, put the tinder nest, dry leaves, or wool under this spot, and you will see that the lens will start to create a fire.
Fire from unconventional materials
Balloons, condoms, and plastic
If you don't have a magnifying lens, you can still build a fire using balloons or condoms. These materials have both shorter focal lengths versus magnifying lenses.
To do this, inflate and fill the balloon or condom with water and tie it at the end. Then, squeeze it to create a shape with a circle of light. Squeezing it will create two small lenses in the middle. Make sure that you don't inflate it too big, and just make sure that the size is right.
You can also create a fire using a water bottle or plastic with water and a piece of paper with dark prints on it. To do this, fill the water bottle with water. Make sure that the water is crystal clear. Then, place it in the sunlight and make sure that it strikes the water, just like how you do it in magnifying glasses. Put the paper with a dark print underneath the water bottle, and you'll see that a circle will form. Add more layers of paper until it creates an ember. Blow it gently, and it will gradually produce a fire.
Another method is to use a tin can, chocolate, and toothpaste. Polish the bottom of the tin can with chocolate or toothpaste, and it will shine like a parabolic mirror after that. As soon as the rays of the sun strike the tin can, it will form a focal point. This will then form a flame on your nest.
Steel wool, gum wrappers, and batteries
If you have steel wool, gum wrappers, and batteries
with you in the wild, you will be able to make a fire by chance. Rub the battery on the steel wool or gum wrapper, and the friction will cause the wool to spark and glow. Blow it gently until it produces flames. Transfer the embers created at the wool in the nest of leaves.
A flashlight can be used as well to build a fire. Remove the cap of the flashlight and take the silver cup from it. Place the silver cup directly from the sunlight and put dry leaves, tinder nests, or other light materials beneath it. Embers will start to appear and blow it gently.
You can still use an empty lighter to build a fire. To do this, slowly grind the lighter's wheel on a piece of paper for about 2 minutes. The friction will create the embers on it. Put dry leaves or tinder nests underneath until you see flames building gradually.
Fire from ice
It is also possible to build some flames even if it's wintertime, contrary to common belief. You can do this by using a piece of ice. It must be noted that the ice should be crystal clear. You can create ice by putting water in a plastic bag and putting it in a cold environment.
Next, form the ice into the shape of a lens or a sphere. Make sure that it is thick in the middle and narrow at the edges, just like a magnifying lens. Use your hands to form this, and be careful not to break it since the ice is vulnerable.
Then, angle the lens created from ice toward the sun just like how you do it using ordinary lenses. Focus the light on the nest or dry leaves, and you will start to create embers on it. Blow it gently until you create flames.
Tips on building fire
Apart from the techniques mentioned above and materials to be used, orient yourselves with these tips to be successful in building a fire in the wild.
Building a fire during winter is possible if you choose the right spot correctly. If you wish to create it under the tree, check that the ground has minimal snow, and be aware that the snow at the branches might fall on your place. You can also build a platform made of dry wood or stone.
When you are outdoors and want to start a fire, even it has snow, make sure that you always have a stack of wood, dry leaves, a tinder nest, and other dry materials to use a fuel. It would be best if you kept the flame burning. That's why you will need huge chunks of wood to survive. Over time, the wood will turn into charcoal which would be helpful for your survival. It will also be best if your place is near the fire.
When it's raining, building a fire is still doable. First, pick the right spot. If you are in the wild with no shelter from the heavy rains, you can stay in the cave, under the big tree, beneath the big boulders, or you can set up a tarp between two trees.
Collect dry leaves, stones, sticks, or woods with you. Make sure that you have enough materials that will last on your entire journey. Lastly, always see to it that the fire will not get wet from the rain. Protect it by putting a cover above, such as a tarp, plastic, or branch from the big tree.
In sum, building a fire is one of the essential knowledge that we all must know today. It will help you survive in the wild, during catastrophes and emergencies. We will never know what will become of us in the future, so we must always be prepared.
There are various products available now that can help us build a fire. Although these products are reliable, we may also not be certain we have these on our side. Thus, the best way to survive is to acquire a skill in building a fire without any matches or lighters and memorize it by heart.
The techniques mentioned above are proven and tested by many people. The use of flint, sticks, and stones was used by our forefathers millions of years ago, and it is still applicable even today. It will be best to orient ourselves to these methods and share them with our friends and family.