not yet ready for Survivor

In which this whole "making fire" thing turns out to be just as hard as we thought.

I had hoped we would attempt only one method.


We gathered the necessary objects.


String and sticks and a plank.


There were many discussions.


But we had instructions to keep us on track.

many hands and feet

It was tempting to get a lighter and burn the book.

bad string

We only succeeded in warming the wood.


It was tiring.


But our spirits remained high.


Even sewing a parachute and building a tent with it would have been easier.

We moved on to the soda can method.


We had great difficulty keeping the dog away from the chocolate required to polish the soda can.


The sun was not as strong as we needed it to be.


It became tiresome and Middle called for a magnifying glass.

eyeglass method

K and I attempted the eyeglass-with-a-drop-of-water method.

very close

But Middle got close - and we even saw some smoke.


As the sun moved, so did we -


and then K brought out the big guns.

fire 6

But it was a lost cause.
Our enthusiasm waned.
And though Middle claimed to have flint in his room, if you saw his room you would understand how he was unable to locate it.

Gasoline was considered. A blowtorch was offered. Wine was poured and we resolved to try again. At noon. On another day.

Happy birthday B - we gave it our best shot.


Anonymous said…
Too funny. Mystery Man did it once with a magnifying glass. Correction: he did it once and then was doing it all summer until we had to take it away for fear of burning down the house.
Anonymous said…
The 5th photo -- with all your men huddled around the book -- is so interesting.

I'm thinking your brother might need to pay a visit and offer a tutorial.
Anonymous said…
the bow drill is hard. I've been told you need certain pairs of wood ( a hard and a soft ) for it to work. and since I am bad at flora identification I haven't given it a go.

You need to spend more time polishing the can. people spend hours polishing the can, and then minutes lighting tinder with it. You also want to use a cotton t shirt to do the polishing.

I have had very good luck with my magnifying glass. which is really the optic to an old cheap loupe. I can get smoke in minutes, and that's really all you need.

if you get smoke you have an ember someplace, and if you have an ember you just have to introduce it to your tinder. and really that is the key.

good tinder.

the girl that did it with her eyeglasses on survivor, I just read it took her four hours.

Badger said…
Happy birthday to B!

I have produced smoke with a stick and plank, where you sort of balance the plank between your feet and rub the stick back and forth in your hands very quickly.

But that was 30 years ago.

And I can't sit like that anymore.
Well, if you are "surviving" with a soda can you can probably also find room for a pack of waterproof matches, no?

I'm just sayin. :)
I love these photographs!!! V. cool!
Anonymous said…
Am I losing my mind, or is there an orange raccoon floating around on this page?
Karla May said…
I see the orange raccoon too. It says "Bad String." Weird.

I'm just jealous that your grass in green and not straw colored and crispy like ours...
Dani said…
One word came to mind while reading this:


I don't think The Boyz family would have put as much effort into it.

You win.
alice c said…
Is it bragging to say that MasterM has been camping with Ray Mears and can make fire - NO problem? The stick and string method ...that's for beginners. He can practically do it by rubbing his finger and thumb together.

It is bragging? OK...I'll get my coat...
jordi said…
I laughed out loud and was SO glad it was you all sitting in the hot sun not me! Why are we making fire in the summer when it is hot? Seems like it is a winter activity, when the sun might be dimmer but the incentive level higher?

glasses are the way to go, I did it once with a magnifier, but I was maybe 10 andthat boat sailed long ago..
Anonymous said…
Loved this post. I can totally see our family out in the driveway with magnifying glass and bits of dried glass trying the same thing. Actually, #1 son DID sit in the middle of the gravel driveway with a magnifying glass and dead leaves when he was about 10. I don't think he ever got an actual campfire started, but he had fun burning holes in dead leaves :-)

I had never heard of a, polishing a soda can with chocolate (why? WHY? I can think of much better things to do with the brown goodness); 2, using said can as a solar focusing device; or iii, the drop of water on an eyeglass method. Clearly I never watch Survivor.
Anonymous said…
Racoon? I thought it was a BADGER.
Happy Birthday, B!
Your family, and your antics, continue to inspire me.
KPB said…
Mmm, warm wood.
Stomper Girl said…
Love that photo under 'It was tiring'; the motion and the smile.
Karen said…
I accidently got the railing to my deck smoking. I was trying to find the solar filter for the telescope and left the scope pointed up while I dug around for the filter. Um, then I got my arm between the eyepiece and the deck and ended up with a nasty burn.

(Came here from Derfwad...)