Posted by: jakinnan | May 15, 2012

Starting a Fire With a Pop Can and Chocolate

Ok, let’s get to it… The can…. The key to this is the bottom of the coke can (by the way, any pop can will do), which is ideal for reflecting and concentrating the sun’s light and energy. In its present condition it is not shiny enough to concentrate the sun’s rays enough to ignite tinder. It needs polishing. The chocolate does an excellent job of this. So, simply break off a piece of chocolate and use it to polish up the can bottom! P.S. Any type of chocolate will do. Probably the purer it is, the better. How can you tell when it’s polished enough? What you are looking for is a “mirror” finish. An object placed near the bottom of the can should produce a clear (although distorted) image. A note from A. Robinson, via email: “DO NOT eat the chocolate after you have used it to polish the can! It will pick up aluminum from the can, which is toxic. Polishing the bottom of the can. Note: For polishing the can, one needs to use the wrapper (or something else) in the process. Just rubbing chocolate on the bottom of the can won’t do too much. The process is to smear some chocolate on the bottom, then use the wrapper (or whatever) as a “cloth” to do the polishing. Every now and then, one needs to add a bit more of the “abrasive.” Note that other polishing agents will work as well, such as toothpaste, powder cleansers, etc. How to actually make fire… On a sunny day (yes, you do need sunlight!), Hold a piece of suitable tinder, such as a fragment of tinder fungus, at the focal point of the can bottom — about 1 – 1.25″ away from the center of the “bowl”.  It is important to orient the bottom of the can towards the sun. If the bottom of the can is “off-axis” from the sun, then the the light gathering will be less optimal. To make sure that you are finding the optimal focal point, try using some black newspaper. Take a small strip, and move it towards the focal point. As you move the paper in and out, you should be able to see the light converge to a small point. At this time, the newspaper should start to smoke. Wearing sunglasses is suggested. It protects the eyes and also reduces the intensity of the light so that it is easier to identify the sharpest focus. Holding the small piece of tinder fungus is easier with a long thin stick with a small split in the end, such as is shown in this photo. Other materials can be used as tinder.  After a very short time (only a few seconds in the bright sun), the tinder fungus will be smouldering. Then transfer it to a tinder bundle and blow it into flame (if you’re using a large enough piece of tinder fungus). If you’re using a very small piece, then transfer the ember to a larger piece by holding the two pieces together and blowing on them. Alternatively, you could use a small bundle of very volatile tinder. And that’s all there is to it!





  1. Great survival tip! And cheap, which gets big brownie points!

    • Thank you for your comment. I hope it comes in handy. God Bless You!

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