Introduction: Fire Starter - Waterproof

About: I've always liked pulling things apart - it's the putting back together again that I have some issues with!

Over the years I’ve made a few different emergency fire starters. You can check these out in the links below. There is no right or wrong way to make a fire starter; I mean the best solution is still a flint and steel in my humble opinion. Each version has its own pros and cons which I won’t go into detail here. Suffice to say, as long as it can make a fire when you don’t have matches or a lighter, you’re onto a winner.

This version is also waterproof (pretty important when trying to light fires!) and uses char cloth in order to get the fire started. Char cloth is simply cotton cloth which has been charred but not set alight. It has a very low burning temp which is easy to light with a spark. Also included is a sparkwheel from a lighter.

You could also add a few other survival parts to this kit such as needles, floss, small hook etc. I tried to make it as small as possible but there is no reason why you couldn’t make it larger and add more survival gear inside.

If you know nothing about soldering brass and copper - then check this 'ible out to get started

Lastly, the evolution of the design changed a couple of times so there might be a couple discrepancies in the images

Other emergency fire starters I've made

Simple Fire Piston

Fire Starter and Tinder Case

Flint and Sparkwheel Fire Starter

Simple Fire Piston

Steel Wool Emergency Fire Starter

Mini Emergency Survival Kit

Wax and Lint Tinder

Step 1: Parts and Tools


1. 3/4” Copper Tube

2. 2 X 3/4” Cap

3. 10mm brass nut

4. 10mm male plug

5. Small brass bolt

6. Small copper tube (this need to hold the sparkwheel from the lighter)

7. Clipper Lighter – eBay or a newsagent. The sparkwheel and flint is replaceable in these lighters and can be easily removed as you can see from the images. You only need this


1. Solder - Make sure it's silver solder as it bonds better and won't bet brittle through age.

2. Flux

3. Blow torch

4. Files

5. Drill

6. Sander

7. Grinder

8. Wet and dry sandpaper 600 grit and 1200 grit

Step 2: Soldering the Nut to the Copper Pipe

Adding the nut to the copper tube allows you to screw on a lid – in this case the 10mm male plug


1. The piece of tube that I used was initially about 80mm long. After a few false starts I cut this down to about 55mm. It’s up to you however to decide on how long you want the container to be.

2. Add some flux to the bottom of the tube and secure the nut and tube into a vice lengthwise

3. Heat-up with the blow torch and add some solder. You will notice that the solder will pool towards the bottom. Don’t worry as you will be re-heating.

4. With a pair of pliers, remove the copper tube and stand it up with the nut on the bottom. Re-heat with the torch and add some more solder if necessary. It’s better to add to much then not enough.

Step 3: Round Off the Nut

If you wanted to you could just leave the nut as a hex shape and move into the next step. I wanted to round mine off and blend it into the copper as much as I could.


1. First grind off the points on the nut and make as round as possible. If you have a belt sander, use this to further smooth it out.

2. Next I use my home-made lathe and attached the tube to it. If you can, make one of these as it makes the job a lot quicker. Use files to smooth out the nut even further and also remove any excess solder.

3. Lastly, with some 600 grit wet and dry sandpaper, remove any fine scratches on the nut and body of the container.

Step 4: Adding the Sparkwheel to the Lid of the Container


1. First remove the flint and sparkwheel from the lighter.

2. Next, cut a piece of the small copper tube. I can’t remember what size this was but if you go to a hobby store they will have all types of lengths for you to try and fit the sparkwheel into. The sparkwheel as a small protrusion near the top. Place it into the tube and it it doesn’t go any further then the protrusion, then that’s the right size.

3. The plugs usually have some black paint on them. Use a sander to remove and smooth off with finer sandpaper.

4. Drill a hole into the top just big enough to fit the tube into

Step 5: Soldering the Tube Into the Plug

Apologies for not having many photos of how I added the top section to the plug. I will go through in detail to explain how I did it


1. Push the tube into place. Leave a little pocking out the top.

2. Solder into place

3. Grind of the excess tube from the top of the plug using either as grinder or sander.

To block the hole in the top of the plug I tried a few different things in the end I did the following:

1. Grab a ¾” cap and remove all of the sides until you are only left with the top section of the cap. You can do this with an angle grinder, sander and patience.

2. Add some flux and solder to the top of the plug and place the top section of the cap onto it

3. Place it so the cap and plug are on the bottom

4. Heat up with the blow torch until the solder melts. Place some pressure onto the copper tube so the 2 pieces stick firm

5. Once it has cooled, sand of file the edges so they form one piece with the plug.

6. Polish with some fine grit sandpaper

Step 6: Adding a Cap to the Bottom of the Container


1. Add some flux in the inside of a ¾” cap

2. Place the ¾ tube with the soldered nut into the cap

3. Sit it somewhere that won’t get damaged from heat, hit it with the blow torch and add some solder

Step 7: Making a Loop Tand Polishing


1. Grab the small brass bolt and with a file or a sander remove 4 corners and round it off

2. Place in a vice and cut it in half, keeping the rounded section

3. Smooth off the cut ends again with a file or sander

4. Place on top of the bottom of the lighter, add some flux and solder it to the bottom cap.

5. If you do have any solder leakage which I did, use a small, fine file and remove the solder where it has leaked.

6. Smooth out any scratches you may have made with the files with some 600 grit wet and dry sandpaper.

7. Lastly, polish the whole thing with a metal polish.

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