The Fire Piston – Starting A Fire With Just Air

Many outdoor enthusiasts are familiar with primitive fire starting techniques such as the bow drill, hand spindle, fire saw, flint and steel and burning lens. However most are completly unaware of the Fire Piston. A single push of the piston with the hand is all that is required to instantaneous ignite tinder, making all the popular primitive fire starting techniques look…well, primitive. Plus, everyone who sees the fire piston in action is completely amazed and your bushcraft credibility shoots through the roof.

The Fire Piston represents a remarkable combination of primitive yet sophisticated technology. Similar to the modern diesel engine, its operating principle is compression. When molecules of air are forcefully compressed, they become hot. As the shaft of the fire piston is thrust into the cylinder, the air inside is compressed and raised to a temperature in excess of 800 degrees Farenheit (800F!) in a brief burst of energy.

Fire Piston

The palm-sized device, constructed of metal or wood, is capable of instantly creating a burning ember with a single push of the piston. Because it creates ignition by compression, the fire piston is unaffected by water and will light dry tinder even after total submersion. A glowing ember is more lasting than an isolated flame, like the ones created from fire steel or magnesium, and unlike a flame it is made stronger by moving air. Open flames can easily be achieved with a fire piston in just a few second and with little more effort than lighting a match. Unlike other primitive methods, the fire piston can be used one-handed, requires minimal physical effort and it performs reliably even when soaking wet.

Modern survivalists often carry fire steel or magnesium in their kits as a means for making fire. These tools have become very popular as they are light-weight and effective in creating instant flame with certain tinders in perfect conditions. These modern methods have become so common that for many people they are the only methods known. However, an isolated flame can be a fragile thing and one adversely affected by the natural elements, as anyone who has attempted to light a campfire on a wet and windy day knows. Using a Fire Piston eliminates many of these problems.

As an outdoor tool, the Fire Piston is one of the best fire making tools out there.  With a little practice its even possible to ignite a fire piston with one hand and its ability to perform under less than ideal circumstances makes it a strong consideration for inclusion in any modern survival kit.

How To Use A Fire Piston


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