Fire from ice

As im­pos­si­ble as it sounds, in this month’s mas­ter­class Jonny teaches us how to con­jure up a nice warm­ing fire from a lump of ice, of all things!

Sporting Shooter - - Crockett’s Country -

We’re now into the cold­est part of the year, and the colder it gets the more we need a fire to keep us warm. If we have some­thing that will catch fire, but no ig­ni­tion method, we should have a cun­ning plan up our sleeves; in this case, we can use the cold weather to our ad­van­tage. Luck­ily, our win­ter weather means that the cold­est days are also of­ten the clear­est days. For the fol­low­ing method to work, we need a sunny day.

The first thing we need is ice – the clearer and cleaner, the bet­ter. The ice needs to be two inches thick (at least) to start with, so that when you’ve melted it to shape it will be in pro­por­tion. Take a slab from a frozen pond or lake.

If you want to try it at home, but it’s too warm, then boil the ket­tle for three min­utes, leave to cool and then boil it again be­fore freez­ing it; this will get rid of the chem­i­cals and gases in the wa­ter.

Cut or melt your slab into a cir­cle. When you’ve got your ice more or less cir­cu­lar you can rub your hand over both sides to mould it into a per­fect lens shape [pics 1 and 2]. This may take a bit of time, and you will get a cold, wet hand, but per­se­vere. The smoother you can get the ice, the bet­ter. Don’t for­get that the larger the lens, the more sun­light will pass through, and the hot­ter the fo­cal point will be­come. For good re­sults, a half inch in thick­ness and six inches in di­am­e­ter works best.

As a young­ster I re­mem­ber play­ing with a mag­ni­fy­ing glass, burn­ing any­thing that moved or didn’t move. The prin­ci­ple is the same. The sun shines through the lens and onto the tin­der you have – in this case, char cloth. Make a tin­der bun­dle and put the char cloth in the middle of it [pic 3]. Move the lens to­wards or away from your tin­der un­til you get the small­est spot of light pos­si­ble [pic 4]. This is where the fo­cal length of your lens is. Hold the lens steady. Of­ten it helps to prop the lens up on some­thing sta­ble. The light is con­cen­trated into a small area on your tin­der [pic 5].

Firstly, you’ll see a black­en­ing on the spot, fol­lowed by smoke. Leave it un­til you get a small em­ber, or maybe even a flame. With char cloth, I get a small, or­ange burn­ing em­ber [pics 6, 7 and 8]. The em­ber can then be in­tro­duced into a bun­dle of dead bracken or grass [pic 9]. Et voilà – fire from ice!




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