Solar Fire with a Simple Flashlight
This one uses a parabolic surface to concentrate and direct the suns rays into a beam intense enough to ignite tinder–much like a magnifying glass does.
Here is a less known way for starters. This one uses a parabolic surface to concentrate and direct the suns rays into a beam intense enough to ignite tinder–much like a magnifying glass does. If you have a flashlight on hand, as do most campers or households, you can use it to start a fire in a variety of ways. One or more flashlights should be basic to even the most rudimentary emergency kit. Most campers would not think of being without a good flashlight.
During your lifetime and mine–you and I have probably had many coins–nickles, dimes, pennies, quarters, and even larger denominations pass through our hands without taking much notice of them. Silver collectors understand that any dime or quarter minted prior to 1964 is worth way more than ten cents, due to the higher silver content used in them than that of newer dimes. For example, depending upon the current value of silver, the older dime may have a hundred times or greater value of that of a post 1964 dime. Individual dimes may be worth even more than that for one reason or another.
Fire making knowledge reminds me of this universal life lesson. Using a flashlight reflector especially reminds me of this, because it is extraordinarily easy and available to most of us, and yet few people seem to know or think of it. I hope you never have a real life need for making an emergency fire, but this way is one to learn and tuck back for a rainy day. No, wait, I mean a sunny day.
Please note that for this particular exercise, the LED variety of mini flashlights may not be the best choice, unless the LEDs are housed separately from the reflector. But a mini Mag-Light or other conventional bulb flashlight is fine, regardless of size. I’ll treat these other kinds specifically in the future. For this one, we just need a reg’r ole bulb type flashlight.
As seen in the still photo, bulb flashlights large and small will suffice. It is not necessary to damage the flashlight in any way, but even an old discarded flashlight will work for making solar fire, provided the reflector is in still there. Take care as you remove and disassemble the top reflector and remove the bulb so that you know how to put it all back where it belongs. Not much can go wrong, but don’t force anything; it is likely that the bulb can be removed with a quarter turn or unscrewing it a few turns of the rear housing. It only takes seconds.
Place your ignitable tinder through the back of the reflector where the bulb would normally be–and aim it at the sun. Depending upon the shine of the reflector and the clarity of the sun’s rays, anything from char cloth to cotton, leaves, punk, or paper will quickly ignite. The temperature of the surrounding air has little affect on the power of concentrated rays of sun. If the sun is out bright and high in the sky, char cloth, dried mushrooms, or leaves will begin to smoke and make an ember almost immediately. Paper towel or cotton may take ten seconds or so.
If you have never experienced the power of using a highly polished parabolic surface, it will amaze you. As with those silver coins, it has been there all along, but relatively few people seemed to know of this method for making fire. But you know.
You can see a quick video clip of this and further details about this method and others at my main blog, One Hundred Ways to Make Fire without Matches–but better yet–if the sun is shining–grab a flashlight and try it yourself. Fire Using a Flashlight Reflector