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Using a lens to start a fire is an easy matchless method. Any boy who has melted green plastic army men with a magnifying glass will know how to do this. If you have by chance never melted green plastic army men, here’s how to do it.

To create a fire, all you need is some sort of lens to focus sunlight on a specific spot.

A magnifying glass, eyeglasses, or binocular lenses all work. If you add some water to the lens, you can intensify the beam. Angle the lens towards the sun to focus the beam into as small an area as possible. Put your tinder nest under this spot and you’ll soon have yourself a fire.

The only drawback to the lens based method is that it only works when you have sun. If it’s nighttime or overcast, you won’t have any luck.

In addition to the typical lens method, there are three odd, but effective, lens-based methods to start a fire as well which we’ll discuss here.

By filling a balloon or condom with water, you can transform these ordinary objects into fire creating lenses.

Fill the condom or balloon with water and tie off the end. You’ll want to make it as spherical as possible. Don’t make the inflated balloon or condom too big or it will distort the sunlight’s focal point. Squeeze the balloon to find a shape that gives you a sharp circle of light. Try squeezing the condom in the middle to form two smaller lenses.

Condoms and balloons both have a shorter focal length than an ordinary lens. Hold them 1 to 2 inches from your tinder.

Fire from ice isn’t just some dumb cliché used for high school prom themes. You can make fire from a piece of ice. All you need to do is form the ice into a lens shape and then use it as you would when starting a fire with any other lens. This method can be particularly handy for wintertime camping.

Get clear water. For this to work, the ice must be clear. If it’s cloudy or has other impurities, it’s not going to work. The best way to get a clear ice block is to fill up a bowl, cup, or a container made of foil with clear lake or pond water or melted snow. Let it freeze until it forms ice. Your block should be about 2 inches thick for this to work.

Form your lens. Use your knife to shape the ice into a lens. Remember a lens shape is thicker in the middle and narrower near the edges.

Polish your lens. After you get the rough shape of a lens, finish the shaping of it by polishing it with your hands. The heat from your hands will melt the ice enough so you get a nice smooth surface.

Start a fire. Angle your ice lens towards the sun just as you would any other lens.

Focus the light on your tinder nest and watch as you make a once stupid cliché come to life.

Remember, we’re all in this together,

Derek Paulson

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