This might be a situation you never thought would happen, but here you are stranded on a deserted island with nothing but the clothes on your back. In this project we’ll be making a survival fire by rubbing sticks together, because if you can do that, you’ll have a much better chance of being found alive.
Looking around the island the first thing you notice are plenty of coconut trees, and at the base are some old coconut husks.
There’s also plenty of wood around so you just need to find a dry piece of soft wood like this branch from a hibiscus tree. Hibiscus is a very light weight wood, and when its this dry, its a very good choice.
You’re old coconut husk will make a great tinder bundle because its packed with very fine fibers that should burn easily.
To prepare these sticks for a friction fire, its important that both these sticks come from the same branch. A sharp rock can be used to fashion some of the wood into a long narrow stick. Cutting the tip of the stick so that its slanted at a 45 degree angle on both sides. When its ready it should look something like this.
Now use your rock to carve a flat spot into the other piece of wood. Knocking it down till you have a surface that is at least 8 inches long. Then make a groove down the center to act as a track for guiding the other stick.
Ok the last step is to find anything you can to wedge under the base to help stabilize it. Then go sit down in the back, its time for the action.
Taking the shorter stick in one hand like this, place your other hand over top so that the base of the stick nestles securely at the base of your thumb.
Ok when you’ve got the tip set firmly in the groove track, try pushing it back and forth keeping it at a 45 degree angle to the base. Not much effort is needed yet, so don’t worry about putting too much effort into it. When the heat of the friction builds to where the wood is ready, you’ll notice a change in how it feels and might even see a little smoke.
At this point start going a little faster and use your strong hand to pull down adding pressure to the tip. You should see alot more smoke now and bits of charred wood dust starting to pile up at the top. Put your back into it and increase the pressure making sure the tip is stopping just short of the pile.
It looks like you’ve got a little ember burning now but lets continue a little longer to be sure. Hopefully when you stop it will keep smoking. Ok perfect, you’ve got a nice little coal now go turn it into a flame.
This is a good time to get your coconut husk ready by pulling apart the fibers, the fluffier they are the better.
Transferring the coal is a delicate process. Try pressing the husk right up to the coal then turn the ember base over and tap the bottom with a stick to make sure all the embers transfer out.
Nice your coal has been captures so loosely cover it over with more fibers so that it’s protected from the wind and continues to smolder. Patience is a virtue here. You don’t want to pinch it too tight or you’ll smother it out. Too loosely and the fibers wont burn. The heat needs to build slowly so try to balance the amount the air the coal is getting with the quantity of tinder its exposed to.
The amount of smoke being generated is a good indication to how well you are doing. Sometimes blowing gently can speed the process. When the smoke is thick and you can start to feel the heat radiating, its time to get more aggressive. Wave the bundle around to get more airflow and blow right in the center of the coals.
Just a little more air now, and success, there’s your flame.
The hardest part is over, but don’t pat yourself on the back just yet, because by the time you add some wood shavings, your flame might be going out. Not to worry though because as long as the smoke is thick, there’s still a good amount of heat and the same techniques can be used for blowing the coals back into a flame.
Well there you have it, now you know how to make a fire without matches.