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Thread: Chemical Fire

  1. #1
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    Default Chemical Fire

    On survivorman last year Les used a couple of chemicals together to make fire... not sure what they were. I know you can use antifreeze and something... or battery acid and something that will react and burst into flames. Anyone tried this? Not really practical but it looked like a cool experiement.

  2. #2

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    Not sure about that, but he did a show where he used hand sanitizer to light a fire. It has alcohol in it. I wish I would have known this--last summer I hiked into a state cabin that had some sanitizer that someone had left, and it would have made starting a fire a whole lot easier.

    Here in SE, it is always tuff to get a fire going with all of the wet wood.

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    Member danattherock's Avatar
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    Default Potassium Permanganate...

    Yeah, you can do it. I thought of carrying some myself. Good way to start a fire with one hand. There are other alternatives of course, but since you asked....

    http://www.primitiveways.com/chemical_fire.html

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hy-hGx6bS5o

    http://episteme.arstechnica.com/eve/...m/857005467831
    The two loudest sounds known to man: a gun that goes bang when it is supposed to go click and a gun that goes click when it is supposed to go bang.

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    I use the Potassium Permanganate and antifreeze.

    keep some antifreeze in a thick glass container and some of the potassium in another thick glass container.

    works great. burns short but puts out ALLOT of heat and keeps red coals for a while. plenty to start fire even with wet wood.

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    Where do you get the Potassium Permanganate... is there a common name or use for it?

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    Member danattherock's Avatar
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    Default chemistry supply stores...

    You can get it at Chemistry supply stores. Check online .
    The two loudest sounds known to man: a gun that goes bang when it is supposed to go click and a gun that goes click when it is supposed to go bang.

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    Member JOAT's Avatar
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    If you're going out of your way to buy some potassium permanganate, go ahead and buy a bottle of glycerin to go with it. Glycerin works much better than anti-freeze.

    Also, potassium permanganate is a listed hazardous material. You will not find any online chemical suppliers who will ship to Alaska (legally).
    Winter is Coming...

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    Member danattherock's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Yep..

    "Glycerin works much better than anti-freeze."

    I have heard the same.
    The two loudest sounds known to man: a gun that goes bang when it is supposed to go click and a gun that goes click when it is supposed to go bang.

  9. #9

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    if you use glycerin you have to get it almost exactly 2:1 or it wont work. I have tried it many times and some times it wont work. it has yet to fail with antifreeze, so that is what I carry.

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    Member JOAT's Avatar
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    That's not true in regard to the ratios. Take a small pile of the potassium permanganate, put a depression in it, and place a small amount of liquid glycerin, ethylene glycol, or propylene glycol in the depression. There is no need to measure as whichever part is the smallest will regulate the size of the reaction. It takes some time for the reaction to start, and if you're outside in the cold this can take a very long time or if it is too cold, you won't get a reaction at all. That's a real problem if you're in Alaska trying to start a survival fire. If it is sub-zero outside, this method probably will not work at all and you'd be better off with matches.

    Glycerin can be easily obtained and stored in a pure form, so it is often the most reliable fuel to use (and it's not poisonous like glycol). If you keep the components stored (separately) in a warm spot and only remove them and mix them immediately when you're ready for fire, then it might work. I think the real benefit for this mixture comes from its ability to ignite thermite. So, carry a 3rd container that is filled with a 8:3 by weight mixture of aluminum powder and iron oxide powder. Pour that in a pile at the base of your wet wood, make a cavity for your potassium permanganate, then a small depression for your glycerin. In about 5 minutes you'll have a 1300F fire that can melt through steel.

    Or you could just use a road flare.
    Winter is Coming...

    Go GeocacheAlaska!

  11. #11

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    Potassium Permanganate is toxic when burned gives off Potasium Oxide, not good to breath.

    It is toxic to water life keep it out of the water.

    It will explode when mixed with differant chemicals such as Formalin.

    Better to play with matches than chemicals unless you know the rules.

    Lets not start the chain of Murphy's law with people that should just use matches, flint and steer, two sticks, fire piston.

  12. #12

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    I started up a fire the other night. got my sticks together dumped a bottle of heet on it and lit a small road flare. Started right up.

    I have messed around with pingpongballs and antifreeze before. They are used to start fires. There is a machine that injects glycol or antifreeze into them and drops them from a helicopter. They take a while to spark up.

    has anyone had dificulties lighting road flares when it is really cold out?

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    Member JOAT's Avatar
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    Fully agree that matches and lighters are the best option. A long list of secondary options are available before one should consider chemical reactions.

    I've used road flares on the sides of the highway -40 and lower. They don't seem to care what the temperature is. Only time I've had a problem getting a flare to burn is when the inside of it was wet.

    Ping pong balls were a favorite time delay device used by arsonists. A common household powdered chemical compound (which I'm not going to name) was put inside the ball through a hole, which was then sealed back up. The ball was then placed in a small container of a common liquid chemical compound (which I'm also not going to name) where the ball slowly dissolved. When the contents were finally released, the two would react violently with lots of heat and flame thereby starting the fire well after the arsonist had left the scene. During my fire service training, we set this up a few times and it usually took 15-30 minutes for the fire to start. Not exactly something worthy of survival use and the reaction is very violent, spewing hot chemicals all over the place. If done in a closed container, I understand you get an explosion, but I've never tried or seen that attempted.
    Winter is Coming...

    Go GeocacheAlaska!

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