MAGNESIUM BARS Magnesium fire starters are common, inexpensive, and long lasting. The main section of the bar is magnesium, a soft metal that is meant to be scraped into shavings with a sharp tool. Some products include a tool for this job and for making sparks. As you scrape the attached ferrocerium rod to produce sparks, aim them at your pile of metal shavings sitting in a nest of dry tinder. When the sparks hit the shavings, the little pile will burn “white hot,” thus igniting the tinder.
STEEL WOOL Steel wool can be incredibly effective when combined with a small-voltage electrical source. A 3-volt (or higher) battery and some fine-grade steel wool will quickly produce a burning ball of steel fibers—just touch a tuft of steel wool to the positive and negative battery posts at the same time. Then place the burning steel in tinder. Use steel wool with grades from 0 to 0000, and batteries with the “+” and “-” terminals close together.
LENSES With a simple magnifying lens, you can concentrate a point of sunlight on tinder to create fire. The larger the lens, the better this will work. Find a sunny spot, flatten a spot in some fluffy tinder, and focus the light in a white-hot pinpoint. Once you have the perfect, blinding dot of light and the tinder is smoking, blow gently across the tinder to help it burn. Keep blowing steadily until the tinder flames up.
And if that’s not enough, you can:
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