Many outdoor enthusiasts are familiar with primitive fire starting techniques such as the bow drill, hand spindle, fire saw, flint and steel and burning lens. However most are completly unaware of the Fire Piston. A single push of the piston with the hand is all that is required to instantaneous ignite tinder, making all the popular primitive fire starting techniques look…well, primitive. Plus, everyone who sees the fire piston in action is completely amazed and your bushcraft credibility shoots through the roof.
The Fire Piston represents a remarkable combination of primitive yet sophisticated technology. Similar to the modern diesel engine, its operating principle is compression. When molecules of air are forcefully compressed, they become hot. As the shaft of the fire piston is thrust into the cylinder, the air inside is compressed and raised to a temperature in excess of 800 degrees Farenheit (800F!) in a brief burst of energy.
The palm-sized device, constructed of metal or wood, is capable of instantly creating a burning ember with a single push of the piston. Because it creates ignition by compression, the fire piston is unaffected by water and will light dry tinder even after total submersion. A glowing ember is more lasting than an isolated flame, like the ones created from fire steel or magnesium, and unlike a flame it is made stronger by moving air. Open flames can easily be achieved with a fire piston in just a few second and with little more effort than lighting a match. Unlike other primitive methods, the fire piston can be used one-handed, requires minimal physical effort and it performs reliably even when soaking wet.
Modern survivalists often carry fire steel or magnesium in their kits as a means for making fire. These tools have become very popular as they are light-weight and effective in creating instant flame with certain tinders in perfect conditions. These modern methods have become so common that for many people they are the only methods known. However, an isolated flame can be a fragile thing and one adversely affected by the natural elements, as anyone who has attempted to light a campfire on a wet and windy day knows. Using a Fire Piston eliminates many of these problems.
As an outdoor tool, the Fire Piston is one of the best fire making tools out there. With a little practice its even possible to ignite a fire piston with one hand and its ability to perform under less than ideal circumstances makes it a strong consideration for inclusion in any modern survival kit.
How To Use A Fire Piston
Aesop’s fable has been rewritten and retold hundreds of times, each time making an example of the grasshopper’s foolishness and applauding the ant’s forethought. It’s worth retelling again here.
There once was grasshopper and an ant who lived in a beautiful meadow, plentiful with seeds and food. All summer long, the ant toiled, scuttling around the meadow collecting leaves and twigs for her home and food for her pantry. The grasshopper, instead of building his emergency preparedness supply, sang and danced through the meadow, living only in the moment and mocking the ant for worrying too much about the future. The warm sun soon dissipated and the harsh winter weather quickly approached, covering the meadow in snow and burying all of the once-plentiful food. The grasshopper found himself alone, cold and hungry. He sought out the ant, knowing she would have food. He begged the ant to let him in, to allow him to partake of her food and warm himself in her home. The ant scoffed at the grasshopper, reminding him how hard she had worked that summer to prepare her supply, while he had played. The ant slammed her door in the grasshopper’s face, leaving him to face the cold and his consequences.
We humans are not born grasshoppers but our socity turns us into one. It is easier to join the swarm of grasshoppers and with all the modern conviences of life avaliable at the flip of a switch it’s easy to assume that switch will always work and life will always go on as usual. We must WORK to become ants, to prepare. That word, WORK, is why more people do not prepare, second only to the fear of being ostracized by their friends and neighbors. Most of us would rather assume things will contine as they are than pick up a shovel and start a garden.
Whether a disaster occurs today or 20 years from now, you need prepare your family for natural disasters, financial crisis or other situations by preparing now. One way to do this is by visiting emergency preparedness stores. You can get alot of ideas just by reading their sales magazines and checking their websites. The Ready Store, Shelf Reliance and Emergency Essentials are quintessential emergency preparedness stores where you can purchase food storage and survival equipment for your basic needs.
So what are the basics every person needs? Let’s look at the Rule Of 3′s. These are the 3 essentials of life and how long you can live without them on average.
- Air – You can live 3 minutes without air
- Water – You can live 3 days without air
- Food – You can live 3 weeks without air
Some other things to consider….Without proper clothing and shelter we can die of extreme tempertures. Without fire to cook our food and boil our water we can become very sick. Without a way to protect ourselves from danger we can be killed. Without proper first aid we cannot heal ourselves.
Store water and food just like the ant, but remember we need a little more. Preperation is key to survival.
Are you heating with wood? How much wood do you need to get through a winter? That depends on the size of the building, how well insulated, where you live and how efficient your stove is. Your typical family of four in a 1,500 sq ft house would use about five cords of wood per year for heating and another four or five cords for cooking, heating water, and other uses. These of course are just averages, you should try it yourself and make sure your family doesn’t use extra. A cord is 4′ by 4′ by 8′, which is 128 cubic feet. And it is to be tightly stacked, meaning a chipmunk can get through, but probably not a squirrel, and certainly not a cat. It take two “average” trees to get a cord. Whether it’s newly cut or aged does not matter. If it’s a full cord of wood when you cut, split, and stack it, it will still be a cord a year later, after it has seasoned.
Cheap $100 wood stoves are for the birds. Get a good airtight stove such as a US Stove Cast Iron Logwood Stove. Buy the better thicker pipe, buy the cleaning rods and brush. Also don’t forget a Magic Heat Reclaimer, it Installs right into the flue and consists of 10 heat-exchanger tubes and a thermostatically controlled fan to blow warmed air into the room. You can save cords of wood just by instaling this one simple device. The fan can be off-grid powered with the rest of your home or a solar panel can be hooked up to it. It even works fairly well without power at all
If you have a chimney fire how do you put it out? There is a couple of ways you can set up a chimney cab that slams shuts on the top. This cuts off the vent and air or another way is they sell a item that looks like a road flare you can toss in your wood stove that is suppose to put it out. I have not had to test either as I clean my pipes and chimney every year. Also I don’t burn pine or fir or cedar. If you do burn soft resinous wood like pine I recommend you clean your chimney once a month.
Another safely precaution is a metal roof it might just save your house from burning to the ground if you ever do have a chimney fire. If you have never had a chimney fire they say it sounds like a tornado shooting up the chimney and flames shooting straight up 4-5 feet or more. Normally they happen in the coldest nasty weather because people really fire up the stove then. Might just ruin your whole winter to watch your retreat burn to the ground. Hopefully you didn’t forget the smoke and CO2 detectors and everyone made it out safe. Be careful wood stoves can be dangerous.
Get a good chain saw like a Husqvarna 450. They are good on gas not too heavy and very reliable. Make sure you stock up on extra chains, spare bar, spark plugs, pull cord, sharpening files (at least 6), and air filters. Maybe a spare electronic ignition as well. You will need about 5 gallons of chain and bar oil, or in an emergency you can use used motor oil. 10 gallons of gas per year and enough 2 cycle mixing oil for the gas. Now how are you going to haul the wood back to the cabin? A 2 wheel cart is one way and sure beats carrying it.
You’ll also need a good splitting maul such as a Truper Rapid Maul. Make sure you buy one with a fiberglass or steel handle. You are going to need safety goggles and plenty of leather work gloves too. Cutting down standing trees is dangerous if you never handled a chain saw before it might be a good idea to go out with a trusted friend and have him teach you the safe use of dropping trees and chain saw use.