Starting Fires, Modern Rogue Style

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by Brian Brushwood & Jason Murphy

Imagine being the first individual to discover you could create fire. It surely brought about a litany of emotions, from wonder and excitement to “OK, now what do I do with this awesome ability?” It’s not like Homo erectus was sitting around trying to figure out how to best cook a proper steak when someone said, “Dude, let’s hover a slab of meat over that bright, hot, orange stuff we saw and put a nice char on it. Hurry up and start spinning that stick.” Or hell, maybe that’s exactly what happened. We don’t know.

Of course, now we have things like matches and lighters to assist us in creating this beautiful force. But where’s the fun in that? Isn’t it way more badass to do the whole magnifying glass thing? Sure, it may require a steady hand and possibly some char cloth, but when you’re not Inspector Gadgeting around trying to find Dr. Claw, you could, in fact, pull this off.


If you’re not familiar with what, exactly, ferrocerium is, you might be surprised to find out that you actually are. It’s that little thing in lighters that people call the flint, only it’s not flint at all. Ferrocerium is a synthetic metal, created and patented by Carl Auer Welsbach back in 1903, and it produces better and hotter sparks than the traditional flint and steel combo. You can buy it in large rod form, then just use something sharp to scrape the sparks onto whatever tinder you’re using. It’s a great thing to have in a survival kit or bug out bag, too.


This next one makes the process of starting a fire both easier and radder, but it’s probably not something you want jostling around in your backpack. Maybe this should be reserved for when you want a super cool way to start a bonfire or something.

As it turns out, the chemical reaction that occurs when you combine potassium permanganate and glycerin creates fire. It’s kind of goofy to watch, because it just looks like you’re pouring some goop onto some metal shavings. But the results are undeniable, and it happens a lot quicker than you might think.


It was definitely fun playing around with these alternative fire starters. But really, it’s probably easier to just use a damn lighter. And that’s the practical advice we’re giving you on our way out the door to buy more glycerin and potassium permanganate, because that was awesome.

Like these videos? Check out “5 People Who Caused Massive Damage For Stupid Reasons” and “The 7 Weirdest, Most Unexpected Explosions That Happened In Real Life”.

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