Starting A Fire With A Battery and Steel Wool In An Emergency
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Starting A Fire With A Battery and Steel Wool In An Emergency

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You’re probably not in a scenario where you don’t have access to the usual ingredients for starting a fire right now, but you never know when you could be. When you can make a fire, you can accomplish pretty about anything you need to survive. You can use it to boil water, cook food, keep warm, and provide light in the dark.

In fact, most deaths in the woods could have been avoided if the individual had been able to build a fire. That’s why, at SuperPrepper, we’re so focused on honing our fire-making skills.

When it rains, it pours, and survival goods always seem to fail in groups and at the most inconvenient times. As a result, having this skill in your back pocket is advantageous.

See also: Top 20 Barter Items to Stockpile

Tools you’ll Need to Start A Fire In An Emergency

Before you even consider using this method to start a fire, there are a few things you’ll want to be sure you have.

  • Steel Wool: Steel wool can be found in kitchen scrubbers, or bought on its own at a department store. You can purchase steel wool on Amazon by clicking here.
  • Batteries: You will only need one battery for this fire starter trick. I prefer to use a D, but any size battery will do.
  • Tinder: Dryer lint, leaves, pine needs, cotton balls and any form of paper will do great as a tinder material. Make sure it’s dry, otherwise this will not work well.
  • Plenty Of Space: When starting a fire, make sure you are in a safe space that is free of flammable chemiclas and materials such as paints and aerosol cans. Also be sure to be in an open space, you do not want to inhale smoke.

If You Do Not Have Batteries, Here Is Where To Look For Some

GPS DevicesCamerasChildren’s Toys
Portable RadiosMusic PlayersSmoke Detectors
Alarm ClocksElectric Tooth BrushesElectric Shavers
FlashlightLaptopPortable Power Banks
Cordless ToolsWireless KeyboardWireless Keyboard

If you don’t have any other options, you can make fire with AA or AAA batteries in this manner. This approach can make an ember with a single AA battery, however, it is not easy. If you’re going to try this, find the finest steel wool you can.

Using many AA or AAA batteries is the best way to go, but I wouldn’t go above three. It’s easier to do this by taping the batteries together end-to-end. If you don’t have any tape, do your best to lay them down touching in the same direction while being extra careful not to disturb them.

Different Battery Options

For this strategy, you can get away with using almost any sort of battery. Other typical battery types that can be used to start a fire with steel wool are listed below.

  • 9-Volt: The most common battery type utilised to produce fire this method is your household 9 Volt battery, at least experimentally. The reason for this is that they have more power than many other types of batteries, and the terminals are advantageously situated adjacent to each other, making contact with the steel wool simple.
  • C or D Type Batteries: A single C or D type battery would suffice for this procedure, and they’re the most popular batteries used in flashlights and lanterns, so they’re usually easy to come by.
  • Batteries from a mobile phone or tablet: If you have a cell phone or tablet with you that isn’t fully dead, you can remove the battery and use it to start a fire. You’ll need to locate the battery terminals and connect them to the steel wool. The terminals are usually two small metal components (gold or silver in colour) on the battery’s top or bottom edge.
  • If you have access to a car, ATV, children’s battery-powered car, electric scooter, or large lawnmower, you can remove the battery and use it using this method as well. Most current automobiles come with a set of jumper wires hidden away someplace in the cab, which would make this operation considerably easier because the battery would not have to be physically removed from the vehicle. On one end, connect the cables to the vehicle’s battery posts as if you were trying to jump start it, and on the other end, connect the two wires to opposite ends of your steel wool and poof! You’re on fire.

Use a car battery only as a last resort, and never touch a vehicle battery, or any battery, if it shows any signs of being damaged or defective in any manner.

See also: How To Heat A Tent Safely

Best Type Of Steel Wool to Use When Starting A Fire

When using this approach to ignite a fire, you’ll get the best results if you use 000 Extra Fine steel wool, but you can also use other types of steel wool, such as:

  • 0000 Finest Steel Wool
  • 000 Extra Fine Steel Wool
  • 00 Fine Steel Wool
  • 0 Medium Fine Steel Wool 

In general, the thicker steel wool you can use with this technique and still be successful depends on the size or power of the battery you’re using. If you’re working with a car battery, for example, you can use really thick steel wool.

See also: Secrets To Long-Term Outdoor Survival

Starting A Fire With A Battery and Steel Wool In An Emergency

Gather Materials

Collect all of your tinder, steel wool, and any type of battery you’ve discovered. If you’re still having trouble finding a battery, think of objects that make noise or have a light on them, as most battery-powered products do both.

Arrange Tinder

Make your tinder pile somewhere out of the way of the wind and rain. Make sure the surface you’re working with is flat, dry, and clear of chemical residues.

Prepare Steel Wool

Pull-on our steel wool till it’s not too compacted, but you still can’t see through it. Pulling the component into a sausage shape is better for batteries with widely scattered terminals, while a ball-like shape is best for batteries with closely spaced terminals, such as mobile phones and 9 Volt batteries.

Prepare The Battery

If you’re using a single battery or one that isn’t a car (or vehicle) battery, you can skip this step.

  • If you’re using more than one AA, AAA, C, or D battery, line them up end-to-end and tape them together (if feasible) so that one battery’s negative end touches another’s positive end. Both a free negative and a free positive end should be left for you to deal with.
  • If you’re using a car battery, follow these steps: As if you were going to jump start your car, connect jumper wires to the positive and negative posts of the battery. Your new positive and negative ends will be on the other end of the jumper cables.

Connect Battery To Steel Wool

Place your tinder near (or even on top of) your steel wool. Touch one end of the steel wool to one of the two terminals on one end of the battery, then the other end of the steel wool to the other end of the battery. The steel will glow and burn like something out of a science fiction film.

Add On Tinder

Because the wool won’t stay light for more than a few seconds, light the tinder material as quickly as possible. However, be cautious while lighting your tinder material, since red-hot particles of steel wool can fly off and burn you. To get the wool and tinder to fire, you may need to lightly blow on them.

If you can’t get a fire started the first time, repeat the process as long as you have enough wool. It may take a few attempts to get it right.

Why Does Starting A Fire With Steel Wool and a Battery Work?

You could discover that starting a fire with this method is fascinating and, to be honest, a lot of fun. It’s a good idea to figure out why these two things have such an awesome reaction when you contact them together. The electrical current and the chemical reaction are the two key components of the scientific explanation of how this works.

Both ends of the battery must be linked with appropriately sized and adequately shielded wires in order to get a current from the battery to power your electrical gadgets. Steel wool, on the other hand, is made up of extremely small wires (about 98 percent iron) that are unprotected and totally exposed to an adequate supply of oxygen.

When both ends of the battery are connected through the steel wool, the outcome is a short circuit, as defined by an electrician. The tiny wires, in combination with the oxygen exposure and the electrical current, generate enough heat to reach the ignition temperature. This ignites the steel wool, making you a hero in a survival emergency for making fire out of two seemingly insignificant materials.

See also: Tools You Need for Campfire Cooking

Is It Safe To Start A Fire With Steel Wool?

The good news is that your ordinary household battery kinds, such as AAA, AA, C, D, and 9 Volts, are simply not equipped with the amounts of voltage required to badly harm you.

It is possible to obtain the same type of minor jolt that occurs when testing a battery with your tongue. It could tingle a little, but it’s not going to electrocute you.

It’s worth noting, though, that batteries can rupture under certain conditions. The worst that can happen with most household batteries is battery acid swelling and leakage. Even though it isn’t a violent explosion, you should avoid contacting the leaking battery acid.

Lithium-ion batteries, which are found in most cell phones, have a bad reputation for exploding with heat and flame if they’re punctured. As a result, it’s always a good idea to refrain from doing anything that might get damaged from the battery. 

See also: Top 20 Barter Items to Stockpile

Wrapping Up Starting A Fire With A Battery and Steel Wool In An Emergency

If you’re ready to get imaginative, you can make a fire in a variety of ways. Take a look at 10 Types Of Wood That Burn the Longest.

Knowing how to light a fire in a variety of ways can literally save your life. Just remember to stay careful and only attempt anything discussed here if it’s a life or death emergency or you’re supervised by an expert.

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