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How to make a fire using your binoculars

Last Updated: 06.12.21


Apart from magnifying distant objects, binoculars can be used for other things too. By projecting on a piece of paper you can safely observe an eclipse with them, and in some emergency situations, they can be used to light a fire. Learn how to do this by following the steps described below.

The principle described works pretty much every time when dry combustible materials are used. Basically, it is all about collecting the solar rays and gathering them to a single point, concentrating them until the temperature is high enough to set easily combustible materials on fire.

If you have a pair of binoculars that has removable lenses, it is enough to take them off and it will not be necessary to break the device itself. However, in a life or death situation, destroying the object (without damaging the objective lenses) will prove to be the only solution to access them. Use a cloth to clear the objective of any fingerprints, dust or dirt, making sure it is as clean as possible.

After you have obtained the lens, make a tinder ball out of dry grass and grind it around to expose the fibers. This also works with very thin branches or tree bark, provided that it has no mold or humidity. Then, take some jute twines and tear them apart, turning them into a big, fluffy ball that contains oxygen and is easily combustible.

Place it inside the timber ball made from dry, dead vegetation and tear apart a small piece of cloth or weaved material, putting it on top of the jute fluff you have previously gathered. Use the lens to direct a beam of sunlight directly onto the char cloth, and blow into the timber ball after it has started to smoke.

Do this gently, in order to supply oxygen to the developing flame without putting it out. Once the fire has erupted, add small, thin and dry branches or leaves, and then, as the flame grows higher and higher, add thicker pieces of wood until you are satisfied with the height and power of the fire.

Before doing this in the wild, make sure you have tested the method at home and are familiar with these steps. Use some inexpensive kids binoculars since even their lens can prove to be powerful enough.

It might not be necessary to disassemble the optical device in order to light the fire. If you have tried to observe an eclipse by projecting on a piece of paper, you will have noticed that the point became hotter and hotter – in fact when doing this, it is recommended to change the sheet of paper often enough so it does not ignite.

If you are in the wild and have some cheap portable binoculars, try to improvise a method to hold them steady. Aim them towards the sun, and, with time, you will heat the combustible enough to make it catch fire; even though some components inside the gadget can be damaged (this is a minimal risk), you do not need to disassemble or destroy it in the process.



Ioana Moldovan

Ioana’s professional experience in the optics field has helped her understand the value of passing her knowledge forward. Her curious personality helps her gather useful information for her readers and her goal is to make technical information fun and accessible to everyone.

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