It looks so simple in the movies… simply rub two sticks together to start a fire. Many have tried and nearly all have failed to start a fire this way. How did pre-historic humans make fire? Can you really make fire by friction? Hey, I’m a “science guy” and people like me should be able to make fire! Several nights ago while talking with a neighbor, we somehow got onto the topic of making fire. Brett said, “I know how to make fire… I took an advanced level survival course and we had to make fire to graduate.” Can you guess the next words out of my mouth? “Teach me!” Just picture two grown boys sitting on the driveway with a box of old sticks, special twine used to make a bow, punk (the powdery dry rot from the insides of fallen logs), cottonwood fluff, fine dry grass, fine wood shavings, dry moss, and various lichens. We built up our pile of punk, positioned our dry grass and started spinning the stick in the well of the wooden board using the twine bow. After a few hours and a hand full of blisters, we decided to use our last ounce of energy to open two bottle of Corona. Sorry… no fire but I know it can be done. If you’re really interested, take a look at Making Fire with Flint and Steel to learn more about the details of making fire.
All of this work inspired a segment I did recently on making fire using two iron spheres (sounds strange but it’s quite amazing). Click on the video below to see how it works or check out the Smash! Bang! Boom! experiment.