Thursday, March 10, 2011

How To Start A Fire With An Aluminum Can

First, locate an aluminum soda can either by checking your supplies or even checking waterways or other locations for discarded cans. It's sad that this is the case, but you would be surprised just how far you can be from civilization and still be able to find litter among a river, lake, coast, etc... Often aluminum cans and water bottles are the most abundant. Next, locate either chocolate, any kind of powdered abrasive, or even toothpaste. Apply it to the bottom of the aluminum can and using some type of cloth, polish the bottom of the can until it produces a shiny reflective surface. Depending on what kind of abrasive agent you are using, this could take anywhere from 15 minutes to the better part of an hour. Keep adding the abrasive accordingly while continuing to polish the bottom of the can. When a near mirror image is produced then wash off the bottom of the can and clean it. This polished surface will act much like a convex lens which will concentrate the power of the sun into the middle focal point hot enough to ignite small tinder. Now by either holding the can or using a homemade platform of rocks or sticks, angle the can towards the sun. Much like using a magnifying glass, direct sunlight is key.  This means that the best time of day to harness and focus the power of the sun is during the heat of the day. This will vary according to climate and geographic location but typically ranges from 11:00 A.M. to 2 P.M.. Using either your hand or a small twig, hold a piece of tinder approximately about an inch away from the center most point of the can. It's usually best to try to use a very thin twig so that you don't block anymore sunlight than you have to. When the tinder begins to smoke, blow on it carefully until it ignites and then transfer it to your fire bundle.


  1. Great info! I've tried this numerous times and have yet to actually get a fire going. It takes a little too much patience for me. I can't use a bow & drill either. That patience thing, again. A friend of mine did it on a hot, bright day but he has the patience!

  2. Yeah it can be alittle frustrating if conditions are not in your favor, like on a cloudy day or high winds when it's harder to keep it steady. The key is to get the bottom of the can to a near mirror polish and as reflective as possible. The better the tinder, the faster it will ignite too.