Jump to content

Recommended Posts

It makes an interesting demo when presenting various firestarting devices, but is highly impractical. It is expensive, bulky, somewhat finnicky and requires tinder fungus or other specialty tinder to be brought along. Fire is too important to waste time on gimmicks.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Having a different opinion than yours does not make one il-informed.


First, I do not consider char cloth to be a "standard" tinder. In my opinion, brought tinder should be waterproof, wind resistant, and capable of creating more than an ember.


Second, a fire starting device should be more versatile than being limited to only such brought or prepared tinders. While I stress bringing tinder, I also work with my scouts to identify and use various natural tinders. Fire pistons are just too limited. That they were at one time used extensively by a certain people in a certain region does not mean they are the appropriate "survival" firestarters that they are billed as.



Link to post
Share on other sites

Why would you have a hot spark for $2.99 when a 99 Cent bic lighter will do?


My point was that it was nearly the sole method for making fire on the pacific islands for a long time.




There are a million ways to make fire, magnesium blocks, steel wool and battery, bow and drill, flint and steel, magnifying glass, fire piston, a number of chemical reactions, matches, lighters.


What is more fun, flicking your bic or us a bow and drill or fire piston?


I am a gear head and have most methods of making fire in a tote I use for eduction. I have the means to make char cloth. Your point is valid about the whys of char cloth when cotton balls are better tinder. I teach it all, let the learner pick and choose what they remember.


go to youtube and search fire piston it will change your mind.


Now ask me if I carry it when I backpack. Nope, I care three tiny bic lighters. One in my pocket and the other two in the water proof stove bag.


the Webelos in the den fight over who gets to start the fire with magnesium starter. pretty cool.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Maybe its the engineer in me, but I think it's a pretty cool, but then I like the battery and steel wool idea also. My scouts once used a Estes rocket motor to start an impressive campfire for the parents. No one was within 30 feet of the stacked logs and all of a sudden the flames were 15 feet in the air. The parents were impressed. Their scout leader was proud, but then again like that kind of stuff.


I admit that I'm a gadget guy but I thought most scouts were. Aren't the same principles (friction, pressure) used to start a fire using a bow and rod use in the Fire Piston. Good things to teach.


I guess it is a bit pricey compared to flint and steel, but how are the prices of a GPS pricey compared to the compass? My opinion is teach all the different methods and tools because one never knows what may be in reach when the need comes. Be prepared.




Link to post
Share on other sites

The .99 bic lighter, I've found, doesn't do well after immersion in water. Other than that, it's a good choice.


Does anybody know of directions for a homemade fire piston?


Also, the principle is different than a bow drill. The bow drill relies on the heat of friction, the fire piston relies on the heating due to increased pressure (when you pressurize a gas, heat is a by-product) of the gas (Charles Law). I would love one to play with and demonstrate with, but I'd need to find one in the $10 range rather than the $40 range.

Link to post
Share on other sites

The original post wondered if anyone had used fire pistons - yes, I have.

I've ignited punky wood, fungus, milkweed fluff, not just charcloth.


I carve/whittle one from a kit for each scout that reaches Eagle in our troop.

See http://boyscouttrail.com/i/misc/firepiston1.jpg or http://boyscouttrail.com/i/misc/firepiston2.jpg

They make good gifts because they are unique and fun. Scouts can supposedly make fire by rubbing two sticks together, but it impresses new scouts when you say you can make fire from just air. :-)


Fire pistons aren't complicated. Drill a hole in a dowel, get a smaller dowel to shove in the hole, and that's it. Getting everything to fit good enough to work is more challenging, that's what the gasket is for. Instructions are pretty easy to find on the 'net.


If you really want one, but don't want to pay that much - I give one away each month at boyscouttrail.com - maybe you could win one. So, you should not consider my view about them to be unbiased.


Scout On

Link to post
Share on other sites

perdidochas - those bic lights now have that safty guard on top to keep little kids from getting them to light... if you take a plyers and pull that off your lighter will dry much quicker if it gets wet!


I've seen fire piston's - I've never used one. My scouts (the ones I had as Cubbies) learned with matches and didn't get to use a lighter (except for the stoves) until they could use a flint.


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great site with instructions to build your own fire piston:



Too big to backpack with, a little clumsy when first starting, but certainly a valid lesson in alternative fire making, scientific principles, thrift/frugality, and creativity. I like them cause they're fun. But no, I do not carry backpacking or in my emergency kit. The little ones for $$$ would be more conveniently sized for that, but they are expensive. Amazon carries the "Scout" model for $35.http://www.amazon.com/Wilderness-Solutions-Scout-Fire-Piston/dp/B002WVC0FI for those interested.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...