How to Make a Fire With Piston Sparks

How to Make a Fire With Piston SparksWhen camping, hiking or backpacking in the back country, it's important that you know how to start a fire. Fire-starting is important for cooking and also emergency survival. Using a fire piston, you can ignite a flame, which you can fan to induce flames. Craft your own fire piston using a fire piston kit or purchase one already crafted online or at a camping store. Once you become familiar with how to use a fire piston, pack it on your next camping trip and use it whenever you need to start a fire.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Things You’ll Need:
Cotton Ball and Petroleum Jelly
  • Cotton balls
  • Petroleum jelly
Step 1
Grease several cotton balls with petroleum jelly. Loosen each ball until the threads are visible. Mold the cotton balls into a bird's nest or into a tepee shape that is about 3 to 4 inches across. Press the center down to shape the indention.
Step 2
Detach the piston from the piston tube. The tinder hole is located at the end of the plunger. Fill the hole with a greased cotton ball.
Step 3
Lubricate the O-ring with petroleum jelly. Insert the piston into the piston tube. Press down on the end of the piston to ignite and expand the gases inside, which will release a small spark and light the greased cotton balls.
Step 4
Remove the piston from the tube and place the end over the tinder nest or tepee you created in step 1. Remove the lit cotton balls from the tinder hole using a long object such as a pen or a stick. It will drop into the tinder nest or tepee.
Step 5
Blow onto the tinder to induce a larger flame--at this point, you might only see an ember. Fuel the tinder with dry sticks and wood pieces.

Tips & Warnings

The greased cotton balls will serve as your tinder.
Vaseline is a commonly used brand of petroleum jelly, but any brand is suitable for this project.
Cook foods over an open fire using a fire piston.
Smother your fire with sand or dirt not water or oil from a camping pan.

Article Written By Charlie Gaston

Charlie Gaston has written numerous instructional articles on topics ranging from business to communications and estate planning. Gaston holds a bachelor's degree in international business and a master's degree in communications. She is fluent in Spanish and has extensive travel experience.

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