Pyr0- Part II by Wendy Chin

The metal rod is made of ferrocerium, a manufactured metallic material containing rare earth metals. Modern ferrocerium rod has a composition of iron, magnesium, cerium, lanthanum and other minerals. Scraping the ferro rod with another metal will create hot sparks with at a very high temperature

The metal rod is made of ferrocerium, a manufactured metallic material containing rare earth metals. Modern ferrocerium rod has a composition of iron, magnesium, cerium, lanthanum and other minerals. Scraping the ferro rod with another metal will create hot sparks with at a very high temperature

Here’s a quicker and easier way of starting fire! In the first part of Pyro, we were shown how to start a fire based on back-to-basic technique. From Paul’s demonstration of the Bow drill technique, we learned that one of the important tools in jungle survival is carrying a parang or machete along with the skill of using it. While the Bow drill technique requires an awful lot of preparation and effort, there are alternative methods that are so much easier and of course, costlier.

The easiest and quickest method is a modern one by using a metal rod and the spine of a buck knife or a metal striker.

Before Vie shows us how to do this ferro rod scraping method, he demonstrated how to prepare the tinder bundle. Vie demonstrated the correct and incorrect methods of using a buck knife to create feather sticks. This method was so easy that I have successfully created fire on tinker bundles repeatedly.

Vie showing how it is done

Vie showing how it is done

Good knife skills is important

Good knife skills is important

In between the session, I was eyeing on Raman’s kitchen where there were pieces of chicken rolling and roasting above the fire. Hmm… yummm! Me drooling…

In between the session, I was eyeing on Raman’s kitchen where there were pieces of chicken rolling and roasting above the fire. Hmm… yummm! Me drooling…

The third and the last technique for this workshop was an interesting one. This is a traditional method created by an Orang Asli tribe. We are unsure when this method was started or exactly where it came from. It is known that this tradition has been passed on from generation to generation within the Orang Asli community.

Using a wood based container with a hole in the middle and a stick together to create internal combustion. Does this sound like a piston? Yes it is! It is known as a fire piston

Using a wood based container with a hole in the middle and a stick together to create internal combustion. Does this sound like a piston? Yes it is! It is known as a fire piston

 

Strips of fibrous bark from a species of a Terap tree (Artocarpus elastica). The cream colour clump is made from the inner stalk of a fishtail palm (Cayota) genus used as a form of combustion fuel.

Strips of fibrous bark from a species of a Terap tree (Artocarpus elastica). The cream colour clump is made from the inner stalk of a fishtail palm (Cayota) genus used as a form of combustion fuel.

Note the Terap seal on the tip

Note the Terap seal on the tip

 

The terap bark strip is tied tightly around the stick (picture above) to create an airtight condition. In order to create an internal combustion, Keong demonstrated by pushing the stick into the hole hard and then pulling the stick out as fast as possible.

Can you see the ember created at the tip of the stick?

Fire piston technique may look very simple and yet it is not that simple when you are actually do it. The correct amount of water and the fuel must be sufficient yet must not be too much. The speed and the force of pushing the stick into the piston would be the crucial part in creating the combustion. Fire piston is my favorite technique because it is a much cheaper method as compared to the ferro rod. For a lazy bum like me, this technique does not require as much cutting or carving like the Bow drill.

This leaves me wondering about the evolution of engine pistons technology. Did it all emerge from our very own Orang Asli and improvised by the Western world? 

All fourteen of us had tried these three different techniques. I struggled with the Bow drill and Raman was helping me with the carving and chopping. The wooden spindle kept slipping off from the wooden base as I was doing the sawing back and forth. We kept practicing until Keong called out, “Lunch time!”

I turned around and saw all of these laid out on the bamboo table by Raman’s wife.

Sumptuous meal of BBQ chicken, steamed cabbage, chicken with tapioca and potato gravy served with rice cooked in bamboo.

Sumptuous meal of BBQ chicken, steamed cabbage, chicken with tapioca and potato gravy served with rice cooked in bamboo.

 

This is Bemban leaves (Donax canniformis), a family of wild ginger plant which is used to wrap the rice before inserting into bamboo to be cooked.

This is Bemban leaves (Donax canniformis), a family of wild ginger plant which is used to wrap the rice before inserting into bamboo to be cooked.

The final advice from we all got that day would be, it is best to choose lighter and matches as your first option to start fire. Waterproof them well.  If all of these fail, pray for a good dry weather, start chopping, carving and collecting dry wood or leaves! Always remember, it is 90% preparation and 10% luck.

Raman and his family gave us a short performance of him playing the flute before we bid farewell.

Raman and his family gave us a short performance of him playing the nose flute called Pensol before we bid farewell.

Many thanks to Keong and his team for a “pyro” half of Sunday. Wouldn’t our nature guide course would be more interesting if such awesome session is included?

 

You can find more info about Raman and the activities he can arrange for you from this link:

http://www.my-rainforest-adventures.com/2012/12/a-day-with-the-jungle-teacher-part-i/
http://www.my-rainforest-adventures.com/2013/01/cooking-rice-in-bamboo-raman-style/

 Raman can be contacted at 012-6445575 (do note that he understands and speaks little English).

Reference:

http://prepplace.blogspot.com/2011_06_01_archive.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ferrocerium
http://www.sepuh-crafts.com/category/fire-piston/

 

 

Can you see the ember created at the tip of the stick?

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