Firestarting with a Fire Plough

In my opinion, fire ploughs are probably one of the easiest and most reliable methods of starting a fire — in those situations where you might be stuck without modern fire-starting tools.

A fire plough is a pretty basic fire-starting method, one that is really just a modified version of rubbing two sticks together to generate heat through friction. By moving the top stick back and forth through the grove in the bottom piece of wood, you generate heat which will eventually ignite a small coal or ember.

fire plough instructions

How to use a Fire Plough: Follow these steps.

First, you want to make sure you have a good tinder bundle prepared for the coal. The tinder bundle really is the key to successfully starting the fire once you’ve produced an ember.

Tinder Bundle

Dry grass, wood shavings, bark fibers, cattails, and punkwood all make great tinder. Once you have your materials, you want to fluff them up and create as much surface area as possible for the ember to ignite. Your bundle should resemble a birds nest, and should be loose so oxygen can help ignite the flame.

Making the Fire Plough

Groove in bottom board of the Fire Plough

  1. Place the tinder bundle or something to catch your embers at the end of the board.
  2. Run a stick back and forth to form a long grove into the middle of some softwood,
  3. Continually plough or rub the tip of the stick at about a 35-45 degree angle, back and forth down the length of the board. The friction will push down some heated dusty particles from the board, which will eventually start to ignite embers as the temperature increases.
  4. Once you have a coal or ember, transfer your it into the tinder bundle that you have waiting.
  5. Blow into your Tinder Bundle until you get a flame.

1 Comment

  1. DAMION SHARP
    November 8, 2012 at 8:09 am

    I am so keen to learn this technique but always seem to struggle. For some reason, i can only get smoke BUT THAT’S IT! Do I have to push the kindling off the end of the wood and onto the tinder?

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