As do many things strike an old man in this quickly changing world, the variety of Fire Piston designs that have proliferated in recent years totally amazes me. Among the mainstream rank and file, the Fire Piston remains a little known fire starting device. While I have known of these things for four or five decades, I initially had to scratch to even find incidental references to them, let alone numerous commercial offerings, instructions, or detailed DIY plans. I like DIY stuff. My earliest DIY attempts with fire pistons got an ember maybe one out twelve slams–and I was thrilled at that! I simply didn’t have sufficient information to even know what was a realistic expectation or how to improve my results.
With the internet, this has all changed. And I am even more amazed to find so many ingenious designs being posted in recent years on the Internet–both those commercially available and those wide-ranging and unique homemade varieties people are demonstrating. Man alive! As old men of my vintage are sometimes want to say. In the interest of assisting others in learning more about the endless varieties of these cool little devices and the great potential they have for matchless alternative fire-starting for both recreational and emergency purposes–I am making this post of just a few of the many links I have just run across in a few searches.
As for myself, nothing is safe. If an object looks like it might lend itself to the physics of compression ignition, watch out! I have made well over fifty working fire pistons from junk (or not) found setting around. I have a battery of more objects set aside for possible future projects of the same, and a dozen or more already started but not completed or completed but never-working for various reasons. Each attempt has taught me something. A few still have me stymied. My successful transparent cylinder designs have been the most revealing and have helped my learning curve far more than any other. My goal, remains of being able to use completely natural materials findable raw in the wilds from which I can make reliable fire pistons and start fires. I am not very close to this end so far. I have been told that this is not likely in my part of the world, what with the lack of usable bamboo and exotic tinders that contributed to the prehistoric development of the fire pistons in tropical geographies.
Although, I have not yet done so, I well may begin reviewing some commercial designs as well. There are those Fire Piston Experts who know much more than I do regarding this topic, such as my friend Pierre, from Stone tinder, who makes a unique tinder formulated specifically for the fire Piston. My expertise, if any, lies in a breadth of different methods for starting fire. Over One Hundred ways that don’t use matches or Lighters. Although I may claim a few of my own unique fire piston designs as specific ways among those, my aim is to teach many other alternative methods. I have always been enamored with the whole concept of the fire piston as a great human invention and its unlikely origins and mystical history, I am equally enamored by others.
Though I am quickly gaining greater mastery of the fire piston, I will soon move on to another–many other–cool methods. I feel that I have made a few unique contribution regarding fire pistons which others may benefit from–I might better serve my weblog followers by passing along a one-stop source that references the increasingly vast resources from others who have worthwhile information regarding fire pistons. So here is at least a partial list of links I have found that may be helpful for anyone wishing to know more about fire piston designs and techniques.
[I discovered a unique tinder that changes Fire Piston use for the better. I like it better than char cloth. I have no ties to it other than it has helped my fire piston research a lot and I I like to give credit where it is due. It is called Stone Tinder. You can find it on eBay under that name. Here is a video that that tells a little about it.]
The following link is just one of many links I am including in this post for my readers benefit, cataloging those for both ready made and DIY fire pistons. This particular link shows an awesome fire piston design available in the UK, called the Pyro-Piston that impresses me. It is fairly pricey, at $80 to $100 when shipped to the USA, but it appears both functional and very well made. It is out of my price range, but I like what I see. It includes both a transparent body and a shiny metallic one, as well as several other ingenious features. I have seen it or something like it a while back on eBay, but I can’t find it at the moment. There are also excellent videos for using it with tips that may be helpful with any fire pistons on their website. UK Pyro-Piston
A more comprehensive list will follow below.
Commercial Fire Pistons