Survival Saturday: Making and using a fire piston

There are many ways to start a fire in an emergency situation. Ferro-rods, fire-drills, steel wool and a battery, flint and steel, all have their advantages and disadvantages. One method that I have never tried is a fire-piston, though I am intrigued by the idea.

A fire piston uses the heat generated by rapidly compressing air to ignite a piece of charcloth which can then be added to a tinder bundle. The downside is that the cylinder in particular must be fashioned ahead of time. If I need to fabricate a firestarting device before I leave the house, and need to bring along charcloth, I might as well bring waterproof matches or a lighter. That said, it isn’t a bulky item to carry in a pack, and if I ever take the time to make one, I will probably include it in a fire kit.

In the video above, survivalist Cody Lundin demonstrates the use of a fire piston. Below the jump find a (very well made) video on how to make your own.


  1. dph says:

    I have been fascinated by these for some time, supposedly they may have inspired Rudolph Diesel to design his signature engine However I’m with you, I’ll just carry a butane lighter and and some matches in this case that I’ve had for close to fifty years.

  2. I have one made by that I sent David’s way. I had good luck with it once I got used to it and found it pretty easy to get anew ember and only slightly more difficult to get tinder the catch.

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Survival Saturday: Making and using a fire piston

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