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The Condom Survival Fire

In the September 2009 issue of Field & Stream, Keith McCafferty tested reader-submitted fire-starting tips for the survival column "Hot Stuff." One of those submitted tricks was starting a fire with a condom filled with water, using it to create a lens and concentrate sunlight. Though McCafferty had trouble getting it to work, this video proves it's possible. Note: F&S did not produce this video, nor is the gentleman featured in it a survival expert.

Comments (18)

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from Hunt_Hard wrote 4 years 34 weeks ago

Wow... different. This still doesn't convince me to carry a bunch of condoms around for fire starter. This is the same concept as the magnifying glass...

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from coreyHuntsTrophys wrote 4 years 33 weeks ago

I think that is so badass

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from JHawes wrote 4 years 33 weeks ago

so that's what them things are for

+5 Good Comment? | | Report
from Carney wrote 4 years 30 weeks ago

Well, I guess that was "Safe Sex" -- and really hot too!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from fish4food1 wrote 4 years 30 weeks ago

I suppose this will work, however..... in a survival situation you usually need a fire when there is not much sun....rain storm, night time, snow storm etc. I'll stick with a bic lighter or a spark making tool.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from fredrbeck wrote 4 years 28 weeks ago

Not sure about using a condom, but the article missed the best fire starter that I have ever used.

If you fill a film canister half full with gun powder (black powder is all I've ever used, but smokeless should work just as well) and then fill it with nail polish remover. Press down the gun powder with your finger, then pour it all out into a bowl and mold into a ball. Squeeze out the nail polish remover (which can be reused or still used for its intended purpose) and then return the ball to the film canister and place the lid on for storage.

When lit, the ball will burn well and not get blown out by the wind. To extinguish, just grab the ball with your hands and smother - you won't get burned if you do so quickly. The ball will remain mostly cool to the touch. The gun powder ball can be used over and over again this way.

Learned this trick in Boy Scouts quite a few years ago. Of course, we usually just kept a small squirt bottle of "boy scout water" in our packs (Coleman fuel) to really get things started...

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from wen wrote 4 years 26 weeks ago

Yes, the condom and water method appears to work similarly to a magnifiying lens, but with more diffusion of the sun's rays, thus taking longer to get the concentrated heat effect. Unusual method. Obviously, there's no danger of refuse condoms doing this on their own, but the "magnifying glass" comment can also be a reminder of the danger of refuse glass acting as a lens. Think of the many dangerous fire potentials from tons of discarded glass lying around in our fields, forests and backyards. Also, if glass and condoms can do it, can plastic bottles?

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from Christian Emter wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

It look like it works, but if you noticed they fast forwed alot. So It takse a while.

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from CarliusD0 wrote 4 years 22 weeks ago

ok that was weird

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from CarliusD0 wrote 4 years 22 weeks ago

ok that was weird

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from BeardogRed wrote 4 years 19 weeks ago

Carry waterproof matches and act like a genius with a -----!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from WhitetailHunter706 wrote 4 years 18 weeks ago

ok that is strange and kind of stupid to even try it

-2 Good Comment? | | Report
from NolanOsborne wrote 4 years 18 weeks ago

I would think that most plastic bottles are too thick and would refract/diffuse the light. I Imagine removable camera lens would do the trick though.

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from Koel wrote 4 years 18 weeks ago

Man I've been using them wrong.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Tohopka wrote 4 years 17 weeks ago

ok........

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from tirdypointbuck wrote 4 years 15 weeks ago

I read about it in the field and stream magazine.

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from nylebakker wrote 3 years 46 weeks ago

gonna try it

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from jeffrey.cote23@... wrote 2 years 39 weeks ago

Well if I carried condoms on a hunting trip I guess but I carry plenty of matches in waterproof containers tho.

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from JHawes wrote 4 years 33 weeks ago

so that's what them things are for

+5 Good Comment? | | Report
from Hunt_Hard wrote 4 years 34 weeks ago

Wow... different. This still doesn't convince me to carry a bunch of condoms around for fire starter. This is the same concept as the magnifying glass...

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from coreyHuntsTrophys wrote 4 years 33 weeks ago

I think that is so badass

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from fredrbeck wrote 4 years 28 weeks ago

Not sure about using a condom, but the article missed the best fire starter that I have ever used.

If you fill a film canister half full with gun powder (black powder is all I've ever used, but smokeless should work just as well) and then fill it with nail polish remover. Press down the gun powder with your finger, then pour it all out into a bowl and mold into a ball. Squeeze out the nail polish remover (which can be reused or still used for its intended purpose) and then return the ball to the film canister and place the lid on for storage.

When lit, the ball will burn well and not get blown out by the wind. To extinguish, just grab the ball with your hands and smother - you won't get burned if you do so quickly. The ball will remain mostly cool to the touch. The gun powder ball can be used over and over again this way.

Learned this trick in Boy Scouts quite a few years ago. Of course, we usually just kept a small squirt bottle of "boy scout water" in our packs (Coleman fuel) to really get things started...

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from fish4food1 wrote 4 years 30 weeks ago

I suppose this will work, however..... in a survival situation you usually need a fire when there is not much sun....rain storm, night time, snow storm etc. I'll stick with a bic lighter or a spark making tool.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Carney wrote 4 years 30 weeks ago

Well, I guess that was "Safe Sex" -- and really hot too!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from wen wrote 4 years 26 weeks ago

Yes, the condom and water method appears to work similarly to a magnifiying lens, but with more diffusion of the sun's rays, thus taking longer to get the concentrated heat effect. Unusual method. Obviously, there's no danger of refuse condoms doing this on their own, but the "magnifying glass" comment can also be a reminder of the danger of refuse glass acting as a lens. Think of the many dangerous fire potentials from tons of discarded glass lying around in our fields, forests and backyards. Also, if glass and condoms can do it, can plastic bottles?

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from CarliusD0 wrote 4 years 22 weeks ago

ok that was weird

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from CarliusD0 wrote 4 years 22 weeks ago

ok that was weird

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Koel wrote 4 years 18 weeks ago

Man I've been using them wrong.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Tohopka wrote 4 years 17 weeks ago

ok........

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Christian Emter wrote 4 years 24 weeks ago

It look like it works, but if you noticed they fast forwed alot. So It takse a while.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from BeardogRed wrote 4 years 19 weeks ago

Carry waterproof matches and act like a genius with a -----!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from NolanOsborne wrote 4 years 18 weeks ago

I would think that most plastic bottles are too thick and would refract/diffuse the light. I Imagine removable camera lens would do the trick though.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from tirdypointbuck wrote 4 years 15 weeks ago

I read about it in the field and stream magazine.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from nylebakker wrote 3 years 46 weeks ago

gonna try it

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from jeffrey.cote23@... wrote 2 years 39 weeks ago

Well if I carried condoms on a hunting trip I guess but I carry plenty of matches in waterproof containers tho.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from WhitetailHunter706 wrote 4 years 18 weeks ago

ok that is strange and kind of stupid to even try it

-2 Good Comment? | | Report

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