Two Sticks - No Fire
Plenty places can inspire. Monuments, Cathedrals, Mountains, Fireworks, and Majestic Camp-fires. I like to think about these favorite experiences often, and try damn hard to think positively, about more mundane shit through the lens of one of these better & more inspiring moments, but...
I have tried many ways to light a fire without a lighter, match, and flint, and found that it's damn tough to do this with merely two sticks and your hands. If you have not done so, then let's first acknowledge the trite details about why 6 ways to light a fire may pale in comparison to the esteemed labor of the ultimate friction.
2. Liquid Lighter
3. Butane Torch
5. Battery and Steel wool
One time, when working construction on a vintage victorian for a wealthy investment banker, I began drilling one of many holes in a steaming hot attic in mid July. The holes through the joists were planned for some new copper. Until this phase the project was going swimmingly, and I was soaked from sweat such that I may have looked like a swimmer. Man, I could have used a cool swim as my brain shrank in the attic heat.
Old buildings are particularly set in their ways -- Perhaps more so than we are. In the aging process of wood, one finds that like a brick, if it is still intact, and not inundated with water, it gets harder and more stubborn to change. As a Matter of fact, common bricks and old timber fetch more money by dimension, than anything we craft now. Likely because of Gravity and the constant pressure of environmental factors, both wood and brick shrink a bit and dry a bit to compound into a harder stronger and more stubborn version of their younger selves. Sound familiar?
So i have a good drill and sharp bit and set about to pilot the next hole through a floor joist to thread the copper through. As the bit winds up like the Tasmanian Devil but not rapidly through the wood, I apply appropriate pressure. Initially the wood spirals outward as the auger pulls itself inward and shavings fall. Then the drill seems to stop entering the old timber, shavings stop flaking outward. In spite of me and my downward force, the bit spins wildly, but won't continue. I pull back, pause, breathe in the hot attic air, and then re-insert the hot sharp steel with more effort downward. Black Coal Residue and sweat stripe my fore-arms. The wood resists, and the bit continues to wind-up like Tornado. Still more pressure is exerted, and the light fragrance of toasted marshmallow wafts up to mingle with the dusty sweat now dripping from my face into the hole. A sizzling steam hiss exclaims as the sweat from my brow hits the hot drill bit, and then I take another breather. I push the bit again and it finally, grudgingly continues through the wood below the floor planks. Alas, the bit pulls fully through the wood in glacial speed, and I withdraw.
In the midst of more processes, I leave briefly to retrieve the materials to pull though the holes. I return to the attic and eventually back to the problem hole. By Now, the room smells more like a campfire than roasting sugar, and initially my instinct betrays me by saying I am simply noticing it more because I'd left the room for the cooler air outdoors. In a moment's calculation I am merely re-adjusting to the stifling attic air, and consider the campfire smell charming. Around the site of the stubborn hole and through the lens of hot sweat in my eyes, It would appear that there was a creeping specter of white wood smoke lulling across the floor toward a duct.
It's amazing how quickly the brain stitches together new scenarios and solutions when the the adrenal gland starts to spill a bit. Panic, like dehydration never help in these matters, but do set into motion a clumsy process of acknowledgment and action. Now, I know that I have a decent vasovagal response, which could be an issue, that could turn me into the hulk some day. Thankfully I remained calm and reached for a month old soggy fountain soda-cup half full of separated syrupy cola. In a panic, time does not stand still, nor move in slow motion -- but because one is attune to every nuance and each sensation, the imprint upon the brain creates a far more vivid memory, and these details seem to stretch the time-line a bit. Whereas all of my more mundane memories seem to fizzle away.
In my pause to contemplate if the cola would leak through the master bedroom ceiling fixture below, and wet the bed... I threw caution to the wind and doused an emerging fire in the floor joists with warm flat cola. The wood hissed and steam rose to further the sauna effect, whilst smoke continued upward. I tacitly left the room and refilled the limp wax cup from the bath tap below. When the fire was doused, and confirmed dead -- I took a break to shrink back from the Large Green Monster, to a scrawny, wet one fifty.
Outdoor Adventures, Camping, and Bonfires almost never benefit from carrying a power drill, and it is not advisable to waste the energy to bike-pack in a 12 pound power tool in lieu of a lighter. But as advice goes -- Fortune favors the prepared cyclist, and having a match would always be preferred to a drill or two sticks to spark a needed fire. As Survival skills go, IF you are going to make a go in the wild, and need to create a fire for survival or merely for your soul; Then I recommend learning to light a fire at least a few creative ways before heading out.
We all have a friend who has stoked a Bon-fire in their yard using A gallon of petrol, and a shed full of damp pine. Anecdotally, (and as they say in Bladerunner), the one that burns twice as bright, burns half as long. That guy -- The friend who, "Will show you how to light a fire", (the cousin of Clark W Griswold), is not your spirit guide, and was likely never a Boy Scout.
If you have not yet tried to rub two sticks together to make a fire, then think thoroughly about all of the gear you will need besides two sticks. Like the buddha, patience would be your first tool. But seriously first consider whether you have any simpler method to getting to 451 Fahrenheit, and if the answer is yes, to any of the following -- Then perhaps stop and re-asses your methods.
Foil Gum Wrapper and Battery,
Sunlight and a Lens,
Steel-wool, and a Nine-Volt,
Lighter Live or dead,
Flint and Tinder.
Anything that May Spark.
If no to all of these things... Then proceed.
Second to patience, you would need a knife or sharp edge. Third may be string, if you happen to have some; Because the two stick trick is made mentally more manageable when you have patience and certainly more viable with a knife and a string.
Break a 20" thin round stick to create a round dowel. Small diameter rotates faster than wider.
Find a very dry flatter stick and hollow a round dowel niche that the dowel fits into, and slot the side.
With a Third stick and the string make a bow, and twist the dowel in one turn of the string.
Place the dowel in the flat hollow of the second stick and surround the niche with fine tinder.
Saw back and forth with the bow to roll the dowel with your dominant hand and hold the top of the rotating stick with a smooth stone, or another dimpled stick.
When the stick winds up like the drill bit, a small glowing resin will bloom, and allow you to blow the glow from the slotted pocket to some tinder such as dry grass and shavings.
The Internet is replete with advice to become a brutal savage fire-starter, but I like this one the most, from the British Bushcraft school. If you'd like more intel on how to make fuego out of the clear blue sky, and have no idea how to do that, then this website may help. For the Two Sticks Method have a look at our friends at Skilled Survival dot com.
Keep in mind that Tinder for this lesson has nothing to do with your Smart-Phone or how it may serve you.
In all cases, please practice, before finding yourself with the need and not the means.
Age and Treachery will overcome youth and skill.