The fire roll was first used by World War II prisoners to ignite their cigarettes. Imagine acquiring a precious cigarette in a POW camp and no match to light it. How do you make fire? We are such a creative species, all the way back to the time of our hominid ancestors, when it comes to producing fire. Truly, necessity is the mother of invention.
Here is a YouTube video of a guy creating the fire roll using a 100% cotton ball and ashes.
My first three attempts were failures, When I tried it the fourth time, it worked! If you are not successful during your first few efforts . . . . stop and evaluate. Then implement and try it again. Like the hand drill, you have to apply downward pressure and faster rolling speed. But, it is not as exhausting as the hand drill. Give it a try and you'll be amazed when it starts to smoke.
A few tips: lightly dust your board with ashes, like dusting a bread board with flour, before rolling your material. Pre-roll your cylinder shaped cotton until it is nice and tight. Your material will elongate as you roll it. If it hasn't ignited yet, and your elongated material has not fallen apart, continue rolling it again. Feel for heat. The middle of your material will darken as it starts to burn. When you see smoke, gently pull the middle of the cotton roll apart to feed it more oxygen. Blow into the blacken area until it glows with heat. Remember that this is a fire-by-friction method. All of the principles apply.
I would recommend practicing with a 100% cotton ball. Check the label because some cotton balls have synthetic material added. Use only 100% cotton. Find and tease the beginning of the cotton ball, then start unrolling it. You'll end up with a long strip of cotton. Use wood ash, like ashes from a campfire, or burn a piece of wood down to ashes.
Tim Wagers of "Boggy Creek Beast" has done a lot of the initial experiments with different materials besides cotton ball and ashes. Access his YouTube channel below to find out what he has done with the fire roll or Rudiger roll.
The materials are easy to acquire. Explore your primal sense of curiosity and give it a try. Examine the varied possibilities of the fascinating world of fire making.
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