Two Ways to Start a Fire with Your LED Flashlight

batteriesDid you know that, if you find yourself in a bind or lost in the wilderness without matches, you can use your LED flashlight to start a fire? Yep, it’s true.

Of course, actually making it work requires skill and patience. And from a practical standpoint, if you really are lost you’ll probably need that LED flashlight for other purposes. So unless you have multiple LED flashlights on you, using these fire-starting techniques may not be your best option.

Still, we understand that some people like to collect survival skills the way hunters collect knives. With that in mind, here’s a look at two ways to start a fire with your LED flashlight.

1. Use your LED flashlight reflector.

This approach is the easier of the two. First, take apart your LED flashlight and grasp the flashlight reflector, located in the head or bezel. (If you don’t know what this part looks like, do some internet searches for photos of an LED reflector.)

Basically, you will be trying to heat up some light kindling or tinder – small pieces of wood, loose paper, newspaper or other flammable objects – by reflecting the sun’s rays with the led flashlight reflector. If you can reflect and concentrate the sunlight long enough, you can ignite a spark. This takes a lot of patience and works best in dry conditions, with little wind.

Larger LED flashlights, of course, work better because they have a larger reflective surface. You can also try attaching a small piece of tinder where the LED flashlight bulb usually screws in, and then place the reflector directly in the sun. This way, you might be able to heat up the center and ignite the tinder.

2. Use your LED flashlight battery.

The second method is slightly more complicated and requires one small component. What you will need to pack – or keep in your survival kit at all times – is some steel wool. Just a few loose strands of steel wool, or a small roll, should do the trick. Steel wool is flammable, even when wet, and burns efficiently.

Technically what you will be trying to do is induce resistance heating, which is when an electric current is passed through a conductor to produce heat. The current travels along the steel wool wire, and when it crosses paths with the battery head, the wool ignites into flames. There are many ways you can ignite steel wool this way; some setups are more elaborate than others.

The easiest way to do this is to remove the end of your LED flashlight and softly run the battery contacts against the line of steel wool. For fun, try it out at home first by sitting down with a few batteries or LED flashlights. Just make sure not to catch the rug on fire!

The next time you go camping, hiking or hunting – whatever your outdoor pleasure may be – pack a little bit of steel wool and a few LED flashlights, and practice lighting a fire without matches.

[ photo by: scalespeeder ]

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