When you have no supplies to light a fire, i.e. lighter fluid, matches, paper products, etc. here’s a method for traditional stick rubbing, using friction to ignite wood. I spoke to my brother about this, who was a boy scout in his youth and has completed a wilderness journey with his friends and his father last winter.
Find a piece of any small, dry, dead wood and peel off the bark completely so that the inside bark is exposed. Set the bark on the ground between your feet so that the exposed bark is facing up. Find a twig or small stick preferably with an even end that is also a little rough or bulbous. It should be about the size of a pencil and the straighter the better. Remove any excess branches off your stick.
Place the stick between both your hands with flat palms against each other and rub back and forth like you’re washing your hands. The stick should spin back and forth between the same spot in your hands. The bottom of the stick should be touching the exposed bark of the wood at your feet and continually pivoting (or circling) in the same spot to cause the friction there to burn.
Rub back and forth for a few minutes until the sticks starts smoking and eventually burning. Gradually keep adding small sticks and then increase sticks in size as you build up the fire.
Check out this illustrative video below to show you how it’s done.
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Curl your thumbs around the top of the stick so that it doesn’t slip out of your grip or lose its placing on the exposed bark of the wood beneath it.
Any wood you use will burn as long as it’s dead and dry. Recommendation, use birch bark – its oils are especially flammable.
Photo: Albert Bridge