Fire Piston

Fire piston, photo from http://www.survivalschool.com/products/fire_starting/Fire_Pistons.htmI happened across such a clever and handy device that everyone should have one. It’s a fire piston. Originating in South East Asia this device works on the same principal as a diesel engine (possibly the where Rudolph Diesel got the idea). A solid piston is rammed home in a tight fitting tube with a bit of dry tinder in the bottom of it. As the gas (air) is compressed with a sharp blow from your hand, it undergoes rapid compression and gets hot. All those air molecules throw off quite a bit of energy when they are all crammed into a tiny space. It gets so hot that it will make the tinder ignite. Pretty darn amazing isn’t it?
If you want to buy or build one there are loads of resources on the ‘Net (just ask Google) but you can read the Wikipedia article if you want from more science about the fire piston.