fire piston
Gear Reviews

The Fire Piston – Starting A Fire With Just Air

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 completely unaware of the Fire Piston. A single push is all it takes to instantaneous ignite tinder, making all the popular primitive fire starting techniques look…well, primitive.

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 Fahrenheit (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 and reliable than an isolated spark, 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. The Fire Piston is simply one of the best fire making tools out there, especially in windy conditions.

Modern survivalists often carry fire steel or magnesium in their kits as a means for making fire. However, if you’re injured using these tools with one hand can be difficult if not impossible. Not to mention how fragile a spark or an isolated flame can be, as anyone who has attempted to light a campfire on a wet and windy day knows. Using a Fire Piston eliminates all of this.

How To Use A Fire Piston

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Sergeant Survival

I spread the news of disaster preparedness and homesteading skills to the masses. My mission is to teach the keyboard commandos out there some real life skills.


  1. I’m always glad to see posts spreading the word about the amazing Fire Piston! keep it up!

    1. Thank you. I really love them and nothing cat beat a fire piston for one hand operation.

  2. Very enjoyable and really useful

  3. Thanks for the info. I have never seen this before and would like to get one. I will be looking for one of these to purchase.
    Let me know if you find the manufacturer.

  4. I’ve never seen a fire piston before. What I find interresting is that collapsable bowl you said you can boil water in. What is it called? What is it made of? How do you boil water in it without burning it up? Sorry, I’m a novice.

    1. There are a few options out there but they can be hard to find, this Collapsible tea kettle is one of them. What you’re looking for is a stainless base and silicone walls in a pot/bowl form.

      The second option that’s much easier to find is a dependable Camping mess kit that folds and stacks.

  5. What were you using for tinder? It looks like ground charcoals?

    1. Char cloth is the best for a fire piston. You can also use dry, pulpy wood.

      The fuel should be very dry and packed in nicely. A good rule is to use something that will quickly take a spark.

  6. […] matches, flint and steel fire starters, fire pistons A good rule of thumb is get 3x more than you think you will need. And just in case you never heard […]

  7. […] shelter, building fires, finding or bringing food… it’s all really just to keep your body functioning and at […]

  8. […] A fun way to start a fire is with a fire piston. If you don’t know what a fire piston is yet, check out The Fire Piston – Starting A Fire With Air. […]

  9. […] The funnest way to start a fire is the fire piston. Not only does it work without fuss, but it is nearly dummyproof…and it looks awesome in action. You can also use it one handed to create an ember out of anything you find that’s dry or pulpy. If you don’t know what a fire piston is yet, check out our article The Fire Piston – Starting A Fire With Air. […]

  10. […] If you don’t know what a fire piston is yet, check out our article The Fire Piston – Starting A Fire With Air. […]

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