Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Survival Kit Essentials - The Solar Powered Firestarter

Being able to light tinder in order to start a fire will always be necessary in a survival situation. Having a fire brings comfort levels back to normal. You can use a fire to provide heat for warmth, cooking food or water purification. A fire will also provide a certain amount of light at night and may offer some protection from nature's creatures that roam the dark hours of the night. If you have plenty of sunlight available, a simple magnifying glass will afford you a great way to start a fire.

Simple magnifying glasses can be found in small and large sizes that allow them to fit in your pocket or a small survival kit. The smaller variety that have plastic lenses are very lightweight and don't take up much room in your kit. They will usually require more intense sunlight to get your tender started. The swivel on most of the pocket versions will also allow you to attach a lanyard for easier carrying to help you avoid losing it.

The medium-sized and larger versions usually have lenses that are glass and will more effectively concentrate sunlight when lighting tender. This will make it easier for you to start your tinder when you need to make a fire. They still fit easily in your pocket or survival kit but do weigh slightly more in most cases.

In a pinch, you could even use magnifying eyeglasses that are used for reading, etc. If you end up in a survival situation, it's always a good idea to have an alternate method for starting a fire.

Got solar-powered firestarter?

Staying above the water line!



Anonymous said...

I keep a fresnel lens in my wallet for just this purpose. It works, but does take some patience, as well as holding VERY still until point of beam ignites the tinder.

Ken said...

...i've had a magnifying glass in the BOB,almost since day one,and since have put them throughout the "grab-n-go's"...although it is in plenty of literature,this is the first time i've seen it as a tip in a post...put this under "the most obvious,is the least noticed" category...thanx RW

Anonymous said...

Where I have NO LUCK at starting fires is with the small folding glass in the multi-purpose camping tools (whistle/thermometer/compass/ magnifying glass). Maybe the small size of the lense has something to do with it, as I've had trouble doing the same with the Swiss knife magnifying lens blade as well. ?

Or maybe I just need more practice.

Josh said...

I think it has everything to do with the size of the lens. Just like the aperture of a camera or your pupil getting larger to let in more light, a larger lens captures more of the sun. Or think of solar cells, you need larger solar cells that offer more surface area to gain increases in power (other things being equal). I’m not 100% positive, but I think that the only thing that would matter is the diameter of the lens. I don’t think how thick (how convex) it is would make any difference except to change the focal length of the lens. And since when you’re talking about a lens, you’re talking about a 2 dimensional object (a circular plane), when you double the diameter of the lens, you actually gain 2^2= 4 times as much area, 3 times the diameter would be 3^2= 9 times as much sun being captured.

Those small lenses are what, maybe half an inch across? The area they capture would be pi*.25^2 = about .196 square inches. By contrast, after reading this I found a magnifying glass lying around the house that is 3 inches in diameter, so it has a circular area of pi*1.5^2 = 7.07 square inches. That’s 36 times as much surface area of sunlight being captured and focused. You can imagine how much easier it would be to start a fire then!

Josh said...

By the way, I didn't have any good tinder to try to start a fire with (and didn't try to look for any), but that 3 inch lens got smoldered through a leaf on my deck and into the wood of the deck within a second or two of getting it focused right in the mid-day sun.

riverwalker said...

To: anonymous 5:33

The small ones will work but you will need some intense mid-day sunlight and a lot of patience. Josh nailed it with his comments in reference to the diameter of the lens.

Thanks anon.


riverwalker said...

To: Josh

Thanks for the great comments.

Hope you didn't burn too big a spot on your deck.

Thanks Josh!


Anonymous said...

Solo Scientific makes a product called the Tinder HOT Box Solar Firestarter.

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