Wooden fire pistons…use & care

fire piston

Jamri demonstrates one of the fire pistons he made

Our traditional wooden fire pistons sets made by Jamri and his son Zaza is now available for purchase. Please click on Fire Piston to view sets available. I have also uploaded videos of each fire piston test onto Youtube. There are 18 videos in total. I did not combine all the videos into a single video as the editing process is too time consuming. On this post, I will share an old video of Jamri showing how to prep and use the fire piston as well as how to store it away.

Nothing can be more satisfying than starting fire the old way. Being a bushcraft enthusiast myself, I find complete joy and satisfaction starting fire the old way, be it the fire piston or the bow drill. I first discovered the fire piston many years ago during an extended jungle trip in one of Malaysia’s national park. Then, I first saw a wooden fire piston and another made of something of much harder material, one I suspect to be ivory.

Anyhow, what’s interesting is the use and storage of the several fire piston sets that was demonstrated to me. The techniques and ‘post care’ are very similar. This is an important part of owning and using a traditional wooden fire piston. Keeping to this ‘guidelines’ help ensure that the unit is always usable and in good shape.

To start off, please watch the video below which I made of Jamri demonstrating how to prep and use the wooden fire piston (also a bamboo unit). This video was posted 5 years ago.

In summary, to use the wooden fire pistons:

  • Use water (but not too much) to wet the fiber seal. Make sure you do not get water into the recess at the tip of the plunger
  • Prep the moist fiber by pushing it together.
  • Push the plunger into the chamber slowly to lubricate the walls of the inside of the main unit
  • Remove the plunger and re-moist the seal (if necessary).
  • Prep the fiber seal again.
  • Place tinder into the the plunger’s tip where the recess is.

One of the most common mistake I see happen is user was slow in pulling out the plunger after hitting it in. It is of utmost important that the plunger be hit in very fast and pulled out instantly. This is to ensure that the amber does not die off because of the lack of air inside the chamber.

Last but not least, here are some guidelines on how to keep and store the wooden fire piston:

  • Never store the fire piston away with the plunger inside the chamber. The fibers will dry and stick to the walls inside the chamber. Always keep the two separate
  • Make sure not excess tinder is left inside the chamber.
  • Store the entire set in a cool dry place.

I still own and keep my first fire piston from Jamri after all these years. Besides the usual replacing of the terap fibers (see video here), the unit still works very well. Once you get the hang of it, lighting up a fire using a traditional wooden fire piston can be pretty easy.

If you are interested to purchase a traditional wooden fire piston made by Jamri and his son Zaza, please have a look at the sets available here and write to us via the Contact page.

Thank you.


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