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How To Make Fire With Ice


by Leslie Gabriel August 22, 2014

It may seem counter intuitive, but people can make fire from ice. Many of us have enjoyed holding up a magnifying glass as a child to focus the rays of the sun, such as to make a burning point on a piece of paper. This is a great way for kids to experience what it’s like to harness solar power to the point of combustion.

The lens you used as a child to focus sunbeams may have been plastic or glass, but frozen, crystal clear water can also focus sunlight when you form it into the shape of a lens. While modern outdoor adventurers usually have easy access to matches and lighters, it’s fun to discover how you can turn water into a means to generate fire!

Items To Make an Ice Lens ...

  • Warm gloves
  • Sharp knife
  • Clean water
  • Heat source to boil water
  • Container for freezing water
  • Freezer

Basics of Making An Ice Lens ...

  • Obtain fresh water and boil it for 10 minutes to get rid of the dissolved gases. You need to remove bubbles because they tend to scatter light and will not let the ice work as a lens.
  • Pour the water into a container, such as a bowl or one half of a tennis ball. Place this container inside a second one, such as one bowl inside another, to help slow down the freezing process (gentler freezing keeps the lens from cracking). Place the containers in a freezer.
  • After your clear ice has frozen, remove it from the freezer while wearing gloves. Use your knife (kids, get permission from a parent or guardian first!) to scrape and shave the ice into a convex (rounded) lens shape. You can also scrape the ice against concrete or a rock in a pinch.
  • Every once in a while, hold the lens so it catches light from the sun to see when it starts focusing.
  • “If it doesn't work, try again when the sun is at its highest in the sky,” noted PBS in its instructions for making ice lenses.
  • At this point, you can aim the focused light to ignite bits of kindling, such as tiny strips of paper, wood or straw and then build a fire with wood!

If you decide to make an ice lens of your own, we’d love to hear about it!. Please send in your success stories, giving details about how long it took to make your lens and any advice you might have for our readers.

Here is cool video that shows you how to do it.

 




Leslie Gabriel
Leslie Gabriel

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