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Calliopenjo
06-29-2010, 01:36 AM
Hi there everyone,

I found a website that explains how this is done. Sounds easy and given my character's present predicament, it fit the best.

Here's the situation: My MC is in 17th century Massachusetts. The MC finds that they ended up in a shack with a fire place. Needing warmth and light, the idea of building a fire comes to light. However, without matches or a lighter, and snow all around, fire from ice comes to mind. There was a metal bucket left by the fireplace and used that to hold enough snow to melt. Once that's done, take the melted snow back outside to freeze once again to make a lens. But, I need a container to put the melted snow into to freeze into the rough shape of a lens.

Does anybody have any suggestions? I'm open to any.

Drachen Jager
06-29-2010, 02:32 AM
That's pretty damn well educated for 17th century! More realistic to build a firebow, tricky but you could always say he saw some Indians making fire that way once and he remembered the trick.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FWP5qyDmwhA

Mac H.
06-29-2010, 02:45 AM
So they put a bucket of snow next to the fire to melt it ?

Then they already have a fire!

Handmaking a lens while freezing to death seems pretty implausible. The reason magnifiers were expensive is that they took a **LOT** of time , effort and skill to make.

In the 17th century people having a magnifying glass wasn't unknown - although they were expensive.

Perhaps one of the other ways to make fire would be better !

Good luck !

Mac

Calliopenjo
06-29-2010, 02:54 AM
Thank you for your input and I apologize for not being clear.

The MC needs to build a fire. The MC gets the bucket of snow and brings it inside hoping that difference in temp is enough to melt the snow, thinking that once the water freezes again, it could be chipped away to form a lens to magnify the sun and light a fire. But, one thing I forgot was time. Thank you for the reminder.

So it's back to putting two sticks together and blow.

DeleyanLee
06-29-2010, 02:54 AM
I thought flint and tinder was the standard for the 17th century.

Chase
06-29-2010, 03:11 AM
I thought flint and tinder was the standard for the 17th century.

You're correct. Well, almost, and Meatloaf used to sing, "Two out of three ain't bad."

Flint, steel, and tinder kindled spark into flame back in the 1600s.

Chris P
06-29-2010, 03:29 AM
The ice idea is clever! Very MacGuyver. If an animal skin was suspended like a drum head the water would freeze to a parabola on the bottom side at least. However, the dissolved oxygen in the water will make the ice cloudy. Also, physicists, help me out: would ice have the right refractive index to concentrate light enough to start a fire?

RainyDayNinja
06-29-2010, 04:49 AM
IIRC, Mythbusters tested the fire-from-ice idea, and without specialized equipment, they weren't able to make the ice clear enough (it got clouded with bubbles). And seriously, who goes straight to making a lens from ice without trying a firebow or something like that? I second referencing an old Indian trick like that.

Calliopenjo
06-29-2010, 05:49 AM
Thanks guys. You helped a lot. :Hug2:

RJK
06-30-2010, 07:58 PM
I'm not an expert, but if I were living in the 17th century, I'd carry a flint/steel sparker with me, especially out in the boonies. It would be no different than today's outdoors man carrying a Bic lighter.

Here's a picture (http://www.strikeforcesupplies.co.uk/stockpics/14002.jpg) of a modern one.

dirtsider
06-30-2010, 11:59 PM
I agree - they'd either have a small flint-steel-kindling kit with them or might have learned how to use a firebow or something similar. Go to www.smoke-fire.com. It's a website that specializes in gear for colonial re-enactors, including flint and steel kits. (Or just flint, steel, and the kindling/batting they would've had.) They also have stuff for Western expansion as well.

Medievalist
07-01-2010, 12:20 AM
A seventeenth century gentleman wouldn't travel without flint and steel, and the probability of a shelter with a fire place and no flint /steel is astronomically slim.

I note that knives were made of steel and of iron, and that flint is fairly easy to find in Massachusetts. Chert is still mined in MA today. If you have a garden, or do any digging at all, you'll find local flint.

PeterL
07-01-2010, 12:35 AM
The buckle by the fireplace probably would have been the steel for starting fires. A lot of native stone in Massachusetts will make enough sparks to start a fir. I have started fires in just that way.

veinglory
07-01-2010, 01:46 AM
Indeed, matches haven't been invented yet and lighters are rare. An ice lens simply will not work, not clear enough, not smooth enough. I would suggest going with the tried and true, a flint, his pistol, or the friction method.

Calliopenjo
07-01-2010, 01:48 AM
Thanks guys. :Hug2:

Medievalist
07-01-2010, 04:36 AM
Our house, started in 1772 (so well after your era), had a giant chunck of flint in the hearth itself. You'd light your tender in the shovel, then move it to the dogs.

Hallen
07-01-2010, 05:12 AM
Our house, started in 1772 (so well after your era), had a giant chunck of flint in the hearth itself. You'd light your tender in the shovel, then move it to the dogs.

Those poor dogs. :D

What? Somebody already beat me to the Mythbuster answer.

Nivarion
07-01-2010, 07:20 AM
I'm not an expert, but if I were living in the 17th century, I'd carry a flint/steel sparker with me, especially out in the boonies. It would be no different than today's outdoors man carrying a Bic lighter.

Here's a picture (http://www.strikeforcesupplies.co.uk/stockpics/14002.jpg) of a modern one.

Thats actually not a flint at all. Its hardened magnesium, and is an order of magnitude more reliable.

I carry one thats a bar of hardened and a brick of soft. You scrape out some of the soft with a knife and then strike the hard into it, burns really really hot.

As for fire starting with a flint, I've found it very hard to start them without a charcloth. You can do it, its just hard. A charcloth would be something I think they'd carry with a flint and steel. (at least I know I would.)

You take a piece of fabric (muslin works best) and set it on fire, then choke it out. One little spark and this stuff goes back up quick.

GeorgeK
07-01-2010, 03:39 PM
I used to do a lot of camping, and trust me, it's much easier to keep a fire burning than to start one from scratch

protect the fire took on a whole new meaning one day

maryland
07-01-2010, 08:55 PM
Slightly off-topic, but a glass paperweight set an entire house on fire here in England this year. Left on a window-ledge on top of a sheaf of papers (doing its job!) it heated up in the sunlight and the house was gutted, burnt to the rafters.
Not much help on a wintry day, but something to consider...