Friday, February 25, 2011

Advanced Fire Producing Techniques

These techniques will require lots of practice before mastering the art of making fire with natural objects found within your environment. The three most common ways to produce fire naturally include the following methods:

Hand Drill – This method requires you to collect two pieces of dried wood. The Drill piece needs to be about 10 inches long, about an inch or so wide, straight, a hardwood, and cylinder shaped. The base for the hand drill needs to be a semi-flat, soft wood, and be large enough not to move while using the drill. A slab of bark from a fallen tree often works well for a base. Whittle down one end of the piece designated as the drill into a curved point. Also whittle down a small impression into the base approximately the same size. Place the curved action end of the drill into the impression into the slab and starting from the top and working down, apply pressure downward moving your hands back and forth from top to bottom. You can also put a pinch of sand within the impression to help increase friction. If you don’t have any success then you can relocate another notch within the base to try a different portion of the slab. You can also try cutting a triangle shaped notch out of one of the sides of the slab and then making another impression right where the point of the triangle intersects. This will help introduce more oxygen to the hand drill helping increase the likelihood of producing fire. Continue using the hand drill and increase the speed of moving your hands back and forth more aggressively until you get signs of smoke or hot embers.

Fire Bow – This method requires you to collect three pieces of lumber and a smooth rock. The base and drill for the fire bow are the same as used by the hand drill listed above. The main difference here is that you are going to assemble another tool which will resemble a miniature bow. Locate a slightly curved stick and stretch cordage from one end to the other with just enough slack left between the two ends to wrap the drill in a fashion where moving the bow back and forth will turn the drill. Now, find a rock that is approximately the size of your palm, is fairly smooth, and has a slight indention on one side so that the top of the drill will stay in place easily. Next, place the curved action end of the drill down into the impression on the slab. Then, place the rock on top of the other end of the drill and apply pressure. Now move the bow back and forth while still applying pressure to the drill with the rock. Continue to do so and speed up the rhythm of moving the bow back and forth more aggressively until you get signs of smoke or hot embers. Once again, you can add a pinch of sand to the impression on the slab in order to help increase friction.

Wood/Fire Plow – This technique often reminds people of using a sanding wedge. It will require the same slab and drill that are used for both the hand drill and fire bow methods. However, instead of notching out an impression into the slab to insert the drill vertically, you will need to cut a trench to run the length of the slab or about 6 inches. Now while applying pressure and holding the drill at an angle, push it front to back in a fast pace to create friction. Small bits of wood that will resemble saw dust will start to form at the drills stopping point. Try a combination of stroke lengths starting at around 3 inches long and work your way down to as little as an inch worth of movement or until signs of smoke become visible.


  1. Why is there so much crucial detail left out? If anyone had to rely on this information to save their life they would be dead. For example, the good hand drill spindles are from stalk plants like Mare's tail or Mullein not hard wood.

  2. Thanks for your feedback; however I have to disagree with some of your information in regards to the relevance of this particular survival site. The information within this website is targeted and provided in relation to Texas. Therefore it is irrelevant to discuss tactics concerning vegetation that is not native to Texas. The Hippuris Vulgaris L plant, also known as the Mare's tail is extremely rare in Texas and is not even recognized by the USDA as local or present to/in Texas. You can follow this link to see for yourself by clicking here So although I do agree with the usefulness of the plant in fire making, I believe it has little to no relevance if it is not found in Texas when the focus of the website is just that. As far as the Verbascum Thapsus L, or Mullein, the species commonly found in Texas is stemless in nature and therefore useless for fire making. Stemmed species are only found within a small area in the South Planes and on the Edwards Plateau which again does not have relevance to 99% of Native Texans. Hardwoods are the most commonly found and readily available source in Texas and unlike most plant stalks, don't require long drying times. Hardwoods can also provide a means for immediate fire preparation with no drying downtime. Downtime itself in a survival situation could be a factor in life or death. If freezing weather was encountered, then drying would be unreasonable. Water Purification could also be another example. Regardless, myself and dozens of my students have been capable of creating fire on a regular bases throughout the years using these techniques as well as several other readers who have contacted me with their success.

  3. Agreed, good job Mr. Iley.

  4. Also, thanks again for the list of Mountain House products and always being so helpful when I e-mail you. Great site!

  5. I made my FIRST fire today using this info! This is cool, I can't exlain it but it feels good to know you can actually make fire. Thanks.


  6. Thanks Ryan! Glad I could help. It is a great feeling to know that you can produce fire. I have gotten so many great e-mails about this subject and people thanking me for this post. With the first comment as an example, I can't say it works for everyone but 99% of viewers have been able to prepare their first fire and have sent me photos of their accomplishment. Learning takes time and determination and starting a fire from scratch takes both. Thanks again!