Category Archives: Making Fire

Potassium Permanganate Survivals Wonder Crystals

Potassium Permanganate Survivals Wonder Crystals.

When it comes to chemicals and children we have to be very careful. But that doesn’t mean we should shy away from teaching Bushcraft Kids about how to use them safetly and what they can be used for. Potassium Permanganate Survivals Wonder Crystals  would be said by some to be a suitable description. I like to teach about natural methods of bushcraft/Survival skills. But some things are worth teaching, if only to be used in an emergency. Bear in mind that it isn’t just about what these crystals can do it is about teaching Bushcraft Kids to be responsible, to have respect for dangerous things and confidence.

Three Uses of Potassium Permanganate Survivals Wonder Crystals.

There are three uses I teach that potassium permanganate crystals can be used for.

  1. Lighting Fire

  2. Antiseptic Solution

  3. Water Sterilisation

Lighting fire with Potassium Permanganate Survivals Wonder Crystals.

This is also covered in the post Methods of Ignition Bushcraft for kids.

Potassium Permanganate when mixed with certain other chemicals causes oxidisation, this causes fire. Before you start lighting fire with this method I recommend you practice building a fire using matches and a tinder nest then practise using these crystals to create a flame (ignite) Then use the full method below to light and build a fire.

  1. First build a tinder nest and collect all the kindling you are going to require.
  2. Place a small piece of paper on the tinder nest.
  3. Put the Potassium permanganate on the paper (depending on the conditions the amount may vary. By practicing you will learn what varying amounts will achieve.)
  4. Pour a small amount of brake fluid on to the potassium permanganate crystals. Wait. You will initially see a little bit of smoke then it will burst into flames.
  5. Nurture and build your fire adding increasingly larger pieces of kindling until you have a fire you are feeding with full size fuel.

I am often asked why I don’t say use glycerine as this does the same thing. This is usually asked by people who haven’t tried this technique at all or in a cold environment. Glycerine does cause oxidisation with Potassium Permanganate, but only when it is over 70 degrees Celsius. If you were struggling you could heat it up using solar energy, a magnifying glass, or friction.

I once needed to light a fire with limited resources and particularly wet conditions, using glycerine and potassium permanganate. Then using a stick and a bit of sugar and some more crystals to create conditions to start the reaction. It worked and we got fire. Sometimes survival and bushcraft means using improvisation and imagination.

There are other chemicals you can add that will increase the intensity of this method. One is adding flakes of magnesium. You can miss it with the potassium permanganate crystals or put it around the edge of the crystals. This is a good demonstration to do for young children as it is very dramatic It can demonstrate the power of fire.

Antiseptic Solution with Potassium Permanganate Survivals Wonder Crystals.


Historically Potassium Permanganate  Solution have been used as a sterilising solution and is still recommended in certain situations if more modern Sterilisation solutions aren’t available. If in the field and you need to clean a cut this can be used. The solution is very week 0.1% with water. Obviously in the field this isn’t a practical this isn’t a practical thing to do. So there are two options.

  1. Make the solution prior to going out and then you can measure the amounts. Personally I wouldn’t recommend this. You might as well buy some Sterilisation solution and/or wipes from your local pharmacy.
  2. Add a few crystals until it is a very pale pink solution when needed and use that. If you wanted to be sure make some at home to the correct strength. Then you know what the colour should look like.

For more information this is an article from the Nursing Times


Water Purification with Potassium Permanganate Survivals Wonder Crystals.

Water Purification using Potassium Permanganate  crystals can be a life saver. But it is something that should not be done routinely. To purify water it is recommended tthat two or three crystals are put in a litre of water. You then need to leave it for half an hour. Then you could drink it.

I would recommend the following.

  1. Filter the water. (A great thing to do with bushcraft kids is build there own water filter.)
  2. Boil the water.
  3. Leave it to stand and cool. (This also gives time for some particles to sink.

This water should be free from most nasties, bacteria, virus etc. If you wanted to take further precaution add a few potassium permanganate crystals to a litre of water. Leave another 20 minutes and it can be drunk.

Drinking dirty water is a dangerous thing to do. Even a small drink from a mountain stream whilst out on a walk. What animals have been in the water, what have they done in it, and or have any died in it up stream. We have all done it at some point, but the risk isn’t worth it. Water Purification is serious. Always boil water.

As you can see Potassium Permanganate Survivals Wonder Crystals is a great statement and in an emergency survival situation could be a life saver.  However a bit of planning and you should have the necessary first aid kit and either water purification tablets and a method of boiling water.

Saying that using potassium Permanganate Survivals Wonder Crystals as a fire starter is a great skill to master and can be very useful.

When it comes to teaching about the uses of Potassium Permanganate Survivals Wonder Crystals it is great for them to learn. But remember always ensure you reiterate it is for an emergency to use it for other than fire lighting and all chemicals are dangerous but have a purpose in life and should be respected.

Methods of Ignition Bushcraft for kids and Fire

Cramp Balls, King Alfred's Cakes

Methods of Ignition – Bushcraft for Kids and Young at Heart

There are various methods of ignition for a fire all of varying degrees of complexity. Being able to light a fire is an essential skill when learning Bushcraft.

When learning a skill for yourself or teaching a skill to a bushcraft kids it is important that you put safety first followed by having fun. As you will have read in previous posts, I believe that young children can learn to light a fire and use various methods of ignition. The important thing to remember is to keep it within their ability. For example friction fire can be challenging for an adult. Trying to get a bushcraft kids to use friction to start a fire will make them frustrated due to failure and that will lead to boredom. It is often good to show them other methods as a demonstration, but remember only ask a child to do something they are capable of being successful at when teaching methods of Ignition for a fire.


Methods of Ignition.

  1. Friction Fire
  2. Sparks
  3. Electrical
  4. Compression
  5. Solar
  6. Chemical


Before going into this list let’s look at the most popular of all methods of ignition when lighting a fire, matches. (With matches I also mean lighters.)

Some people will argue that if you are practicing bushcraft you should be using methods of ignition other than matches. Firstly I would say learn the basics of lighting a fire and practice, practice and practice. There is no point in learning various methods of ignition if you can’t build a fire using a match. Once you are competent at that and teaching a bushcraft kids to do the same you can move on to other methods of ignition.

Even when you have become competent at collecting tinder and kindling you don’t need to learn other methods of ignition. If when you go out you have matches with you it is okay to use them. There are no rules saying you must know six different ways of starting a fire. On some occasions you may be short of time and using matches will be the logical way to go. However I am sure once you have got to grips with the basics you will want to learn more. If you have bushcraft kids to teach they will want to learn other methods and be shown them.


Friction is one of the earliest methods of ignition that has been used to light fire. This is usually pieces of wood or bamboo being rubbed together. This is a method that needs an article of its own. There are various methods that all take practice to master the technique needed to light a fire.


In recent years there seems to have been an increase in this method. There are two methods of ignition usually recognised with this section.

  • Ferro-rods
  • Flint and Steel.


These are the most common method and often seem on survival programs. The sparks from this method of ignition are more intense and hotter than the traditional flint and steel. This is relatively easy to use and from my experience bushcraft kids love using them. A word of warning when children get hold of one of these they naturally start striking it making sparks. Depending where you are this could be dangerous and a fire risk. I usually set a rule. No making sparks until you are instructed to.

The tinder that can be used with the Ferro-rods is wade and varied. Most fine fluffy or fibrous materials will ignite with this method. Remember to have enough tinder to nurture the small flame to a flame that will burn the kindling you have collected.

Flint and Steel.

This technique is a very traditional method of ignition that most people have heard of. Ferro-rods and flint and steel are often confused as one method. They are two separate methods and the flint and steel takes much more practice. The sparks are much smaller and the heat produced is much less. The tinder available in the field is much less than there is to use with a Ferro-rod. You are limited to things like Cramp balls, King Alfred’s Cakes. These also need to be very dry.

Cramp Balls, King Alfred's Cakes methods of ignition

Fire tinder Cramp Balls also known as King Alfred’s Cakes


You will usually find Cramp Balls on dead Birch trees.

To check if these are dry they should feel light as if they are polystyrene.

Other than that you are best carrying some charcloth. You can find how to make this on ànother post. Charcloth is basically what it says. It is dry partly burned natural fibres.


This is one of the methods of ignition that bushcraft kids love to see and learn. Here are two methods I teach.

You need a 9volt battery and a thin conducted.  There are two readily available things first fine wire wool and the other is the paper chewing gum used to be wrapped in. I say used to because a lot isn’t wrapped in this now. It is usually the traditional flat pieces of gum. The paper is foil on one side and paper on the other. First let’s look at the paper.

Flatten the paper out then you want to tear it so it is wide at the ends and as this as possible in the middle. A similar shape to a hour glass. Then you just hold the wide ends on the battery terminals. Be prepared the paper will ignite very quickly.

The wire wool works in the same principal. Take a small amount, experiment to find the amount that works best for you. Thin the wire wool out a bit and hold the ends over the terminals of the battery. You will see this start to glow and burn very quickly. So you need to have your tinder and everything else ready to light your fire.


The wire wool can get hot and there is a risk of burns. The wire can also burn very quickly. As with any situation when fire and children are involve take care and take all the necessary precautions.


This is one of the methods of ignition that can be difficult. It uses a compression pistol. I have seen these made but usually you would purchase a purpose built one. It is basically a tube which is in two parts. You put a piece of charcloth inside then you push the tubes together as quickly as possible causing as much pressure as possible. This action causes a small spark, this will then ignite the charcloth.


Solar methods can have the obvious limitations, those being you need sun. There is the obvious method most schoolboys have tried using a magnifying glass or similar lens. The other item is a special piece of kit which is inexpensive. It is a shiny concave plate which has a piece of wire set in the middle to hold some tinder. The tinder is held at the focal point off the concave plate. The plate is the held or placed so the sun shines directly onto it. The sun’s rays are then focused onto the tinder setting it a fire or creating an ember. This is then nurtured to ignite a tinder nest and then kindling.


This is one of the interesting methods of ignition. It fascinates children. The method I explain here is also mention in the article about Potassium Permanganate. By mixing this with various other chemicals you get oxidisation. This causes fire. It is probably one of the most commonly mistaught method. It is often said that mixing glycerine with potassium permanganate with cause the reaction. Then you try and wonder why it doesn’t work.

The reason is the reaction only takes place over 70 degrees Celsius. So in some countries you don’t stand a chance. The easiest way to correct this is to use brake fluid instead. Just a small amount on the purple powder will do the trick. Ensure the Bushcraft Kids are stood well back. Initially it looks like all you have done is make a dark coloured mess. Give it a little time and it will start to smoke the burst into flames. There are other tricks you can use to ensure you get enough heat and flame. Mix some magnesium with the potassium permanganate.

Practice making the reaction, then start putting the powder on a tinder nest. To do this you are best putting a small piece of cloth, paper or similar piece of flamable material so the powder doesn’t just fall through the bundle and be wasted.

All methods of ignition should be practiced until you understand them and can perform them. Then start teaching your Bushcraft kids. Remember fire can be dangerous, but if done safetly can be taught to bushcraft kids. It is a good way to teach responsibility, respect, patience and confidence in a way often shied away from

Tinder and Kindling – Bushcraft for Kids

Tinder And Kindling Essential For Fire


You will find building a fire and fire lighting techniques in other posts. This post is just about the materials needed to start a fire. You are going to need two types of material. These are Tinder and Kindling

Having the right tinder and kindling can make, or should I say will make the difference between fire or no fire. Choosing the right material is the difference between success and failure.


You can make a game for bushcraft kids of collecting tinder and kindling. It can simply be who can collect the most tinder or Kindling, or the One Who collects the most different types of Kindling. Whatever way you decide to play it with the kids, never forget to ask questions. Try asking what is that? What makes it tinder, good tinder, kindling or good kindling? You will be surprised at their knowledge and how they absorb new information. But you will also be surprised at what adults can learn from children. Not being limited by our restricted views they can often be innovative and find solutions we don’t think of. I am getting off track, back to tinder and kindling.



What are Tinder and Kindling?


Before we start looking for tinder and kindling it is important to understand what it is and why we need it. That allows you to improvise and find tinder and kindling in the environment you are in. Some Tinder and kindling come from specific plants, others are from improvisation. Knowing the job they are needed to perform means you can look for them and be able to light fire.

First thing contrary to the belief of many people tinder and kindling are nit the same thing. They both have their own role in lighting a fire. So let’s look at them individually.


Tinder is easily described as “any substance that will easily ignite when starting a fire.” It is a material that is extremely combustable.  I would say tinder will ignite with a spark or a glowing ember. So it can be ignited by a single match, a spark from a flint and steel or an ember from using a friction method of fire lighting. Once lit tinder needs to burn hot enough and long enough to ignite the kindling. It is the most important material when it comes to lighting a fire.




Kindling is usually less flammable than tinder. It will burn In contrast, kindling is slightly less flammable than tinder. However it will ignite easier but burn less intense and a shorter duration than larger pieces of wood, that would be the main fuel for a fire. You use kindling to get a fire going. Kindling Burns long enough for larger pieces of wood to start burning and your fire to become established.

Kindling is the intermediate material that takes the initial burning tinder to becoming an established fire

Getting the best Tinder.

When you go out and start collecting tinder you need to be aware of moisture. Due to the nature of tinder moisture can make it useless. Tinder is often fluffy or very fine fibre and very dry. It isn’t necessary fot tinde to be wet and saturated to be useless. High levels of moisture in the air can mean the tinder absorbs enough water, so it wont ignite or burn long enough to burn your kindling.

So planning can be important when lighting a fire especially if you are going to be collecting the tinder from outdoors. If you know you are going to be lighting a fire later in the day keep your eyes open for tinder. There is nothing worse than it getting later in the day and you cant find what you need to light a fire. If you collect tinder throughout the day you also need to be careful where you store it. You need to keep it dry but if you put it in some pockets the moisture from sweat can be absorbed by the material or stop it drying out further. Also don’t put it in plastic bags this too can effect drying and moisture levels. So collect the driest tinder possible throughout the day and put it in an outer pocket.

Manmade and Natural Tinder

When it comes to selecting the best material for tinder, I will discuss the topic from two different angles. The first is what you can bring from home or what is manmade and will work well as tinder. Secondly what you can find in the wild that will make good tinder.

So now you are ready to start collecting tinder. There are two categories of tinder Manmade Tinder and Natural Tinder.

Manmade Tinder

Manmade Tinder is what you can buy, sometime make, or improvise making outdoors. There are many things that are available around the house that can be used as tinder or made into tinder. The obvious one most people think of and use is paper. However it is not the best Tinder and not suitable for using a flint and steel. (It might work but there are better forms of tinder.)

• Dryer lint

• Cotton balls (coated in Vaseline if possible)

• Tampon fluff (from all-cotton tampons)

• Pieces of rubber, tyres etc. I don’t like using things like rubber. Poisonous gases et. If nothing else it can make you ill. Especially if you are up close blowing on it. (Last resort)

• Lint from cotton socks

• Feather sticks

• Char cloth

• Wetfire (a synthetic fire starter)

• Pieces of cotton, material shredded to make fine fibres.

Petroleum jelly is a great thing to carry with you. It has many uses. One is putting a bit on cotton wool or cloth fibre can help make good tinder into super tinder.


Natural Tinder

It is good to be able to source Tinder from the natural environment around you. The only real issue is damp. Even if it is wet around you there are some tricks that will assist you to have usable tinder.

I have included a list of some natural tinder that you can use. This is not the only tinder just an example, use you imagination and get the Bushcraft Kids to see what they can find. Some item

  •  Birch bark
  •  King Alfred’s Cake
  • Pinecones (smaller, lighter ones)
  • Old Mansfield Bear
  • Dry cattail leaves
  • Shaved wood
  • Dry grass
  • Very tiny twigs
  • Fluff from cattails
  • Dry pine needles
  • Dandelion fluff (seeds)
  • Milkweed fluff
  • Fatwood
  • Bird down
  • Husk from hornets’ nest or beehive
  • Straw


TIP. I was told if it is thinner than a match and dry and flammable it can be used as tinder.



Natural Kindling

Kindling is larger than tinder, and is used to get a fire going and making the transition from a small flame burning tinder to a full fire burning fully size fuel. The purpose of kindling is that it is small enough to catch fire from the burning tinder and large enough to burn for a suitable temperature and length of time for the fire to become established. Putting Fuel wood (large wood) on to kindling to soon will also smother the flame It is also less likely than larger fuel wood to smother the small flames of the tinder and kindling.

Kindling generally is wood. Preferably a soft wood as it Burns quicker. However following these simple rules.

Start with wood that of approximately the maximum width of a pencil. This can be sticks you find or if you have a knife or axe you can cut them.

You should be able to break kindling with your hands. If you can’t it is too thick to be kindling and you risk you fire going out.

Before starting your fire I suggest grading the wood. Especially if you are new to bushcraft and or fire lighting. Put the wood into piles starting with your pencil thick sticks and have a few piles of sticks that get thicker. You don’t need lots of pile. Just a few so that your fire grows and you don’t risk making a big leap in the size of wood and your fire goes out.

When building a fire you need patience and it is good to teach your children the importance of patience. Whether it is bushcraft, survival, nature or everyday life this is important.


I often use this phrase when I work with Bushcraft Kids. “Slowly, Slowly Catchy Monkey” kids find it amusing, but it helps them remember.

Practice making fire, using different tinder, kindling, fire lighting techniques and different styles of fire. As you teach your Bushcraft kids and they become more confident you can give them more tasks and responsibility to get a fire started. Fire is amazing and everyone loves a camp fire. It is a great thing to spend time with your children or a group of children. You will see them learn skills, build confidence, have time to talk, laugh and enjoy time together.





Kids and Fire -Bushcraft for Kids

There are two things I always get asked about when I talk about bushcraft / Survival skills for children. They are knives and fire. In this post I want to briefly talk about fire. Kids and fire is often avoided. It doesn’t need to be kids and fire can be fun and safe.

Kids and Fire.

Fire is obviously something that can be dangerous. Burns are horrible injuries which can be very painful. I found this out first hand many years ago when I offered to burn some conifers for a neighbour after they had cut them down. I set everything up and went to light it with a match and it exploded in my face. My neighbour had painted the fence with some sort of creosote. They had left the remaining creosote outside. I thought the smell was from the nearby fence. I wasn’t it was in the pile of conifers I was to put a match to. The injuries were to my face and hands. My son at the time was about 5 years old. He visited me in hospital, he looked at me and asked where his dad was. My face was so swollen he didn’t recognise me.

The lesson is take care and take all the precautions you can.

Plan and be Safe.

My thoughts on most areas of bushcraft is that you can do them with the correct planning, preperation and technique.

There are two questions to ask before you start.

  1. What is the child capable of achieving alone and with supervision?
  2. Is it safe and what can I do to reduce risk?

What is the child capable of achieving alone

and with supervision?


At different ages children are capable of different things. They are developing their fine motor skills.  They are developing their conversation.

So when looking at kids and fire you need to think about what are they able to do? Initially you will naturally shy away and think that young children can’t do anything other than collect fire wood. From my experience they can achieve much more. But young bushcraft kids and fire need somethings demonstrating at a safe difference.

Don’t rule out activities for young bushcraft kids just because they are young. Think of ways of letting them be hands on. This helps their confidence soar and they also begin to learn taking risk is good as long as the risk is minimised.

Is it safe and what can I do to reduce risk?

Obviously safety is a priority. No one wants anyone to take unnecessary risk. Especially when it involves bushcraft kids and fire. Once you have a list of activities think about what you need to do to minimise risk. For example I might not let a child use wire wool and a battery because the risk of being burned is to high. But with the correct gloves it suddenly becomes safer. There are ways of making things safe if you want to do something with kids and fire.

Take a look at some of our suggested activities for kids and fire.

Remember children are often capable of much more than we appreciate it is down to us as parents or group leaders to minimise risk and maximise the experience and Adventure for the Bushcraft Kids.