Fire Starting, The Beginning

By Rick Cooper

If you turn on You tube today, you will find many a video teaching fire-making tricks. Everything from how to use Fatwood to Petroleum Jelly soaked into cotton balls.

When we walk into the house and turn on our lights or bump up the thermostat because the weather is chilly, we don’t give it a second thought (unless your paying the bill). When man first roamed this uncivilized continent that we now occupy, The value of fire and the ______ that it has had on the mental phych of man is still a mystery. Fire has been present on this earth even before man, Created by God the Creator of everything. It just took man awhile to understand it. Fire has naturally been created by things in Mother Nature, like Lightning or Volcano’s and Dry tree limbs rubbing together.

Man, was at first afraid of fire, because of the destruction it caused, and later learned to harness fire tame it and make life flourish because of it. This fear probably subsided when man realized that a hot meal cooked with fire was better tasting and the warmth that fire provided. Not to forget fire provided Light in darkness.

Man did not create fire, only God who is the creator of everything created fire. But, man did create a fire starter. Man has adapted fire into his daily survival just like learning how to use Natural Plants for food.

History tells us that one of the first fire methods that was man made, was accomplished by friction (remember the tree limbs rubbing together) . What we would call today the bow-drill.

Also another friction method was the piece of wood and using another piece like a wedge shape and making a plowing motion to heat up the wood with friction.

Then there was the sawing method, probably first used in a Malay Device, as seen in the picture below. Bamboo, was used. You take two pieces of bamboo , 1 piece has a notch cut into it an the other is sawed back and forth. The bamboo will soon drop burning particles that can be used to ignite a fire bundle.

The drilling method of rubbing a piece of wood between your hands (probably the worst ) was the hardest and seldom ever used (except by indians on TV).

Of course we can never forget the old flint and steel. These were struck together causing a spark that would ignite your tinder bundle. Also, the flint from the pistol or rifle could be used.

The earlist known way that man created fire may have been the box method. In this way, Avery firm paper (like cigarette paper) was dipped in sulphur. This may have been the birth of the Match. Phosphorus, was discovered in 1669 by a German physician named Hennig Brandt. He mixed sand and charcoal and boiled down about 1200 gallons of urine over two weeks. (smelly job, wonder how he got all that urine)?

In 1805, the oxymuriate match was introduced by the people of the Parisian Channel. It was a slip of wood with a mixture of Chlorate of Potash, Sugar & gum. To cause ignition, the match was dropped into a bottle containing a piece of asbestos saturated with sulphuric acid.

Then came the Promethean Match

It was a piece of paper dipped in a mixture of sugar, Chlorate of Potash. It was rolled inside the paper was a glass bulb filled with Sulphuric Acid. To cause ignition, the tip of the match was compressed between your teeth or a pair of pliers. The bulb would break and the acid mixed and caused a chemical reaction that ignited the paper. (No wonder outdoorsman died young)

About 1827 John Walker of Stockton , California. Invented the Lucifer Match. It was a splint of wood dipped in sulphur and the a chlorate mixture. It was struck or drawn thru a piece of sandpaper to cause ignition.

Today there are many ways to start a fire, Ferro Rod, Bow Drill, Matches, etc. Nothing beats a bic.

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