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Unusual Improvised Ways of Making Fire

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Unusual Improvised Ways of Making Fire

television projector

An old TV, junk food, Brillo pad, plastic bottle, condom, battery, ice.

These might save your life. (When did you ever hear that junk food could save your life?)

Impress your spouse and friends. Even more important, keep yourself alive! Learn how to start fires without a lighter, matches, or store-bought survival equipment.

Any readers familiar with my writing know that I promote being able to work with the materials at hand. If you have great equipment, it makes your job really easy. Unfortunately, that’s not often the case.

So, you’re in a situation where you need a fire but don’t have a lighter or matches? No problem. Just start looking around.

Utilizing Everyday Items

Cell Phone and Brillo Pad

Take out your cell phone and try to call for help. No reception? No problem.

Pull the battery and look for the contact points, positive and negative, at the base. Now fish around in your cooking stuff -ah, a Brillo pad. Pull off a piece, roll it into a short length of Brillo twine, and put one end on each of those metal parts. It will glow/spark a little and smoke. When smoking well, put it in your tinder, blow gently, and you’re in business!

Tip: If you want to save your mobile phone to make a call and have a regular battery, especially a 9-volt, check out “Battery and Brillo” below.

Old Wide Screen TV

Seriously? Fire from an old TV? Yep. Maybe even metal-boiling laser quality.

You’re with your giant, beloved, old, scale-tipping rear projection TV. You know the one: you watched your favorite shows on it for years and just couldn’t bear to part with it after your spouse insisted you get a thin, new TV. Or, you might not have gotten rid of it because these things are really, really heavy to move and you might throw out your back.

Unscrew and remove the panels on the front under the screen and remove the screen from the frame.

Once off, there should be several different films or screens. Look for one that’s a large, rectangular acrylic lens with a kind of magnifying glass curvature in the middle. That’s a Fresnel lens. Different TVs have different quality lenses that will work with varying results. Hopefully, you’ll find a good quality one that’s clean and clear. Careful! The lenses can be delicate.

Set up that giant magnifier in the sunlight and focus it on something to be put aflame. You have not only something that can start a fire: it’s practically a laser! Honestly, you can even melt metal things with it, so be very careful. Don’t point it at anyone, and protect your eyes.

toy balloons

Around the House

Clear Plastic Bottle

You can take a plastic bottle like you might be drinking soda out of, remove the label, keep-or-fill it with clear liquid, and start a fire by focusing the sun’s rays through the bottom, curved part of the bottle.

Tip: Clear bottle and fluid is best, but you can try with colored bottle or fluid if you have to.

If you are trying to start something white/light like paper or white cloth, rub some dirt on the paper/cloth and shake off the excess. Printed paper works fine because it has dark areas. The dark color helps heat it up. Blow or fan your tinder, adding more until you build a fire.

Balloons and Condoms

These items are maybe not quite as easy as a bottle, but can work in a pinch.

Let’s say you happen to have either of these items in your pocket. Or both. Hey, I’m not here to judge.

Put some water in one and tie it off. Don’t make it too big or you won’t be able to distort the focal point of the sun. Squeeze it to find a shape that will give you a small, bright spot of sunlight. It will focus much closer than you might expect, so hold it just an inch or two from the tinder.

Battery and Brillo

There’s that Brillo pad again. That conductive, tinder-like metal is pretty useful for turning electricity into fire.

9-volt batteries are easiest to use for this because the connecting points are on the same end, but others work, too. Just spread out the Brillo and place/rub the battery connective points on it. If you have something other than 9 volt, try placing a thick strip of Brillo on one end and connecting it to the other.

You should see results immediately. Quickly move it to your tinder because the spark/glow isn’t going to last.

ice shaping

Ice Fire and Junk Food? Really?

This technique received a very good response when I mentioned it in an earlier article, so it’s worth repeating.

The idea is to use your knife and/or the warmth of your hands to polish a chunk of ice into a good-sized magnifying lens that will start your tinder.

Just like the technique with the plastic bottle, the clearer, the better. Search for ice that’s not cloudy or filled with debris.

If you have the time and won’t freeze while waiting for it, you can fill a bowl with about 2 inches of clear water/melted snow and let it freeze.

You know the convex shape of a magnifying lens: thin on the edges, thick in the middle. Cut/work/rub the ice into that shape. Polish it with the heat from your hands. Always be careful not to get frostbite.

Once ready, focus it on tinder. Honestly, this technique is not always easy to do, but it’s an option.

Junk Food to the Rescue

Okay, so maybe the end of the civilized world comes just at the moment you’re enjoying a particularly unhealthy snack of a chocolate bar and a can of soda pop. For once, this combo might save your life!

Take a piece of the chocolate (or toothpaste, or try something else if you’re in trouble) and rub it around on the concave bottom of the can. Polish it with a rag. Repeat this a few times until the can bottom is very shiny.

Point the end of the can directly toward sunlight and place your tinder about an inch away. Adjust it until the bright dot sends tendrils of smoke into the air, and start your fire.

© Mark Dorr 2013, All Rights Reserved

References & Image Credits:
(1) Phil Manker via photopin cc
(2) Wikipedia
(3) Primitive

Originally published on

“The thing about the truth is, not a lot of people can handle it.” -Conor McGregor

Top Secret Editors

Ryan is the founder of Top Secret Writers. He is an IT analyst, blogger, journalist, and a researcher for the truth behind strange stories.
Lori is TSW's editor. Freelance writer and editor for over 17 years, she loves to read and loves fringe science and conspiracy theory.

Top Secret Writers

Gabrielle is a journalist who finds strange stories the media misses, and enlightens readers about news they never knew existed.
Sally is TSW’s health/environmental expert. As a blogger/organic gardener, she’s investigates critical environmental issues.
Mark Dorr grew up the son of a treasure hunter. His experiences led to working internationally in some surprising situations!
Mark R. Whittington, from Houston, Texas, frequently writes on space, science, political commentary and political culture.

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