Firestarting Techniques

A fire piston, sometimes called a fire syringe or a slam rod fire starter, is a device of ancient origin[citation needed] which is used to kindle fire. It uses the principle of the heating of a gas (in this case air) by its rapid (adiabatic) compression to ignite a piece of tinder...
Came upon a reference to this via a discussion at Chaos Manor (Jerry Pournelle's blog). There was also mention of techniques for using iron pyrite and flint as a firestarter as well. Plus, a little bit of additional wikiwandering resulted in my learning the principles behind making charcloth.

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