Wilderness Survival- How to Make Fire From Ice

By | May 29, 2008

Now for the magic!

By taking a tube, and rubbing it over the surface of the rough sphere, we start to cut/polish away at any irregularities.

As Nelson pointed out, with this technique, “you can’t go wrong.”  If you use a true random motion in the polishing, then you have no choice but to make a perfect sphere!

The biggest problem with ice lenses so far has been the ability to make a lens that has a tight enough focal point to light tinder.  There was always the trade-off between the quality of the lens and the size of the lens.  To compound this problem, if we needed to make a big lens, then we needed a big piece of ice.  As described in the first fire-by-ice articles, getting clear ice isn’t very easy.
With this tube-polishing technique a number of new avenues have been opened:

1) We only need a small piece of clear ice – which is much easier to find and/or create.  In the above photos, where the smallest sphere was made, the starting point was something that looked a lot like an icicle.  Very often, icicles are perfectly clear – and they’re easy-pickin in the winter.  The icicles are already in an almost cylindrical shape – so much of the work is already done!  An icicle provides: clear material, a hand-hold, is partially preformed, and is on display.  Wow, what a starting point!

2) Since this tube-polishing technique guarantees a perfect sphere – we have removed much of the skill element to this technique.  The better the original roughed-out sphere, the less polishing  required.  A very poor original sphere will still end up being perfect, one just needs to polish longer.

There is still exploration that can go into sources for the tube.  A longer tube is nice, since it is easy to hold.  I also tried various sized “rings” and they also worked well.  One could also use a sheet of material with a circular hole in it.  Other natural materials might include: coconut shells, sea shells, nut shells etc.
The cutting edge on the tools can also be optimized.  Maybe a serrated edge for the rough polishing, and then the hook-edge/burnish for the final polish.  In a survival situation, one could use cans, jars, lids, pieces of pipe, rings, bracelets etc. – wildwoodsurvival

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