I wanted to try fire plough (fire plow) blind folded - not to show off 😀 but to see how good my muscle memory is as the fire plough is alot about muscle memory in stopping/starting in same spot - as you are going so fast you can’t really do it by sight anyway so I just wanted to see 😀 I achieved 3 embers 😀 the issue with ember 1 was more to do with the blade being uncomfortable and couldn’t achieve the pressure needed so I trimmed the blade and it worked on attempt#3- and wow what an ember 😀 now it wasn’t possible for me to know when there was an ember - I could smell smoke but the plough produces loads of smoke so I just continued for a good amount of time (based on my experience and going a bit longer.) I then cleared and shaved the groove and went for ember#2 - vid 2- I didn’t press record properly so only the ember on film - again another strong ember and in one attempt. I then tried ember#3 - and again on first attempt - I slipped at the end and decided to stop but another strong ember It was an interesting experiment - and it just felt natural even blind folded and proved that when doing fire plough you don’t really use your eyes in changing direction - but they’re useful for seeing if you have an ember 😀 Set is poplar on poplar - very dry and seasoned. Another tip - ensure the blade is comfy to hold as it makes a big difference in applying pressure - spend time smoothing it off.
Tales from the fireside - stories are a part of being human and have been told around fires since the beginning! In this video I tell the story of How Rabbit Stole Fire - a story from the land now called America. There are many versions and this one is based on stories told by the Koasati, Hitchiti and Creek peoples. I have deep respect and honour for the land and peoples from where these stories originate. I support Survival International, who fight for tribal peoples' survival - working in partnership with tribal peoples to protect their lives and land. This video will go-live at 9am on 20th November 2021.
In this short fire plough / fire plow clip you can see how the wood fibres rub off the blade and base and char and accumulate into a pile. The fibres are heated up and charred as they are rubbed along the board. The build up of the heat in the pile of fibres causes the wood fibres to ignite and an ember form. This is using Hazel on Poplar.
Stop using synthetic bow drill cordage ! use Natural Cordage - myth busting! reduce plastic comsumption!
This video is a few years old but it is still current and valid especially in the current environmental crisis - we should be reducing our use of man made materials and synthetics and one of those is bow drill cordage. I have a pet hate against synthetic bow drill cordage. There is no need to use paracord or other synthetic cords with the bow drill and I have been talking about this for a few years!
This video demonstrates different natural cords and 3 different ways of using natural cords and shows that it isn't difficult!
A good way of extending an ember (or solar lighting) or catching a spark is using a King Alfred Cake (cramp ball fungus or Daldinia concentrica). A King Alfred Cake is a fungus which grows on dead Ash trees, and when the fungus has died off, they turn black and act like a coal. Only collect them when they have turned black (dead) , not brown (still alive). If dead they should come off the dead tree quite easily - you may need to prise them off using a knife. You can store for a very long time as long as there is no moisture otherwise they will go mouldy!
You need to strike the sparks\add the ember\direct the sunlight onto the underside not the smooth outside of the ball. It only takes a small spark (or ember) to light. You will know when it is lit, as you will see a small red glow. Blow on it and the ember will get larger and it will burn like a coal. You can then place your dry tinder on top, such as dry clematis bark or dead dry grass or bracken. Blow onto the glowing ember, and keep blowing, it will start to smoke and may produce lots of smoke! Keep blowing until the tinder bursts into flame then place your kindling on top.
They will smoulder for quite a long period of time so is a good way to extend an ember if the tinder is damp or you're not quite prepared!
Originally posted 2016 - updated 2021:
The Fire Steel (aka Ferro rod, see left photo) is not to be confused with the traditional Flint and Steel (see right) where the steel would be struck against flint to create a spark. The Ferro rod is made from Ferrocerium which is a man-made metallic alloy invented in the 20th Century using rare earth alloys. When struck against steel shards of the alloy are scraped off which oxidise at a low temperature, which ignite and get VERY hot (3000 Celsius). The traditional Flint and Steel was the prevailing method of lighting fires from the Iron Age until the mid to late 19th Century and even in the early 20th Century; before matches and then lighters became prevalent. Before the advent of steel, a variety of iron pyrite or marcasite was used with flint and other stones to produce a spark.
I don't like the Ferro rod at all and I now don't encourage the use of Ferro Rods especially in these times of environmental crisis as it is a modern man-made alloy using rare earth metals which have to be mined and the hot sparks are actually very very hot (3000 degree metal shards.) The Ferro rod is an all too common bushcraft tool which is also used as an easy way to teach fire lighting by many bushcraft and outdoor educationalists. Kid's do like Ferro rods due to the sparks - but they are very hot shards of metal! It has it's use for survival situations but I don't agree in their use for an everyday fire lighting tool.
Ferrocerium is used in many applications such as cigarette lighters - but they only use a small amount unlike ferro rods.
Please do use common sense if introducing children to fire lighting with ferro rods. The sparks produced from a Ferro Rod are very HOT metal shards and can burn skin and catch things alight (e.g. tents) so children should be supervised when using them.
A few sets made with very basic tools - shards of flint and slab of slate. Our stone age ancestors were very skilled with stone and could make far better stone tools than these so they would have been more than capable of making friction fire sets with stone tools. As I have found flint is very sharp and even with small pieces of flint like the ones below , it is possible to make friction sets - it just takes a little while longer. The slate (photo 1 ) was very good for processing the hearth board by scraping the wood over the sharp edge and by sawing the wood up and down the edge it made an excellent v notch (better than some I make with a carbon steel knife!)