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Thursday, 14 May 2015

Embers and Tinder; a sample chapter from Bow Drill Trouble Shooting

After Sam's post yesterday about his improvements to the bow drill friction fire method I though it was about time to remind you all that my book Bow Drill TroubleShooting is still available on Amazon and to give you a taste of it I'm posting another sample chapter from it here;

 The Ember Falls Apart When I Put It in the Tinder Bundle

You need to make sure your tinder bundle is packed quite tight. Even a well-established ember like the one in the picture to the left is very fragile and will fall apart and drop through the gaps in the tinder bundle if it is not tight and fine enough. Suitable tinder’s for taking an ember produced by friction are described here;
The Central column of the table grades the quality of the tinder material for taking an ember generated from friction fire, the grades go from A (excellent) to C (usable but not easy). 


Birch bark
An excellent tinder in other respects, birch bark would not be my first choice for friction fire lighting. The bark can be shredded and used but is generally too coarse for use with the very fine embers that you produce by friction. You can add a bit of cat tail down or a cramp ball to this tinder to help if need be.
This combination of birch bark and shaving from a pole lathe would normally be much too coarse for use with embers produced from friction but the addition of a bit of cat tail down or a cramp ball makes it just possible.
Thicker pieces of bark rolled into a tube can also be used, if you stuff a tube of bark full of tinder and drop your ember in there you not only avoid burning your fingers but it means you can easily contain your ember and control the amount of air getting to it.
A relatively coarse tinder and will be easier to use if you can add some cat tail down or a cramp ball, or a finer tinder to the heart of the bundle.
Cat tail down
As a component of your tinder bundle this is fantastic but you will need more than just cat tail. It will extend the life of your ember and provide a good hot centre to your tinder bundle but it will not produce the flame you want, you can add a small bit to the centre of any tinder bundle but it really comes into its own when you only have coarse tinder and need to extend the life and size of your ember to produce a flame.
Cedar bark
Great tinder if you can find it, it needs to be buffed vigorously to produce a fine nest of tinder but it really is fantastic.
Cramp Ball
Another tinder which won’t produce a flame for you but which will extend your small friction ember and help the fire lighting process.
This little fungus will glow like a piece of charcoal and they are worth their weight in gold if you are short of really fine dry tinder. Remember thought that they must be dry themselves, if you knock them off a tree still living they will actually be very wet inside, so collect them in advance and break them in half to dry out.
Dry Grass
This requires a bit of careful selection and preparation, the stems of grasses will be very poor tinder, it is the leafy matter that you need, this can be collected quite quickly by running your fingers through clumps of dead grass this should pull away the leaves and leave the stalks standing so you don’t have to spend too long picking out the stems before you can use the tinder. Late summer is the best time to find dry grass in plentiful supply.
Honeysuckle bark
This can be quite plentiful and strips easily of the vines in long fine shreds; it can be buffed further by rubbing it together vigorously and is one of my favourite tinder’s.
Much the same as bracken, relatively coarse tinder and without the benefit of the leafy fronds of bracken but again with the addition of finer tinder at the heart of a bundle of straw it can work very well.

I posted another sample chapter a few months ago on the topic of suitable types of wood for bow drill fire lighting, if you want to check it out it is available here, or you could get the whole book on kindle or as a paper back 


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