Make a Rapid Charcoal Starter With a Can

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Make a Rapid Charcoal Starter With a Can

There are tons of uses for aluminum cans during survival situations, and one of the most important is to assist with lighting fires.  You can turn an old coffee or food can into an efficient way to light charcoal or kindling to get a fire started and save matches as well as precious fuel.  This method involves a few steps and some basic tools, but the end result is worth the time and can provide benefits that will extend well into the future.   

The first step is to remove the label before cleaning and drying the can.  Next, take a drill, hole punch or screwdriver and poke a series of holes through the bottom of the can. Then, take a can opener and cut out the bottom and set it aside for the time being.  Next, cut a series of holes along the bottom of the can that will provide ventilation for the fire later.  The easiest way to do this is by using a bottle opener that has a pointed edge because you can latch it to the bottom of the can and press inwards.  Space the holes about an inch apart in a single row around the can.

The next step is to reinsert the bottom piece into the can and set it so it rests about two inches above the bottom.  The best way to hold it in place is to take three small L shaped brackets along with screws and bolts.  This will require you to create holes on the sides of the can as well as to align them with holes on the bottom.  Mark the holes with a pen or marker and then punch them with a nail or use a small bit with a drill.  Attach the brackets to the bottom piece first and then screw them into the sides.

At this point you should have a unit that has a floor to support the fuel, along with a gap on the bottom of the can to allow air to pass through.  Now, all you need to do is fashion a handle so that you can hold the can as you transfer the flaming material into your fire without getting burned.  You could always use a pair of tongs, but creating a handle will add an extra measure of safety.

The easiest way to build a handle is to take an unused broom stick and cut it about six inches from the top.  However, you can use any wood that is available as long as it is thick enough.  Take a four inch long screw and drill it through the handle.  Then poke two holes into the side of the can where you can attach the screws.  Place a small bolt on the screw about a half inch from the end, and insert the end of the screw into the can.  Place another bolt on the screw from the inside of the can and secure them tightly from both sides.

Now all you need to do is fill the can with your fire-starting material of choice and let it burn for a bit before transferring it to your grill or pit.  This is a fantastic way to get a fire started without the need to waste fuel, and it will only take one try to discover how practical this trick really is.