Can you really make a fire with a bottle of water? More specifically: can you concentrate the rays of the sun through the water, in a correctly shaped bottle, so it will act as a magnifying glass to start a fire?
Roadside brush fires are commonly recognized as being started by fluid-filled bottles concentrating the sun’s rays. That’s the reported reason why many bottle manufacturers are paying extra to produce textured bottles.
That sounds quite legitimate, but can a clear plastic water bottle be used to start a fire with consistent results? Let’s see for ourselves.
We have to assemble all of the parts to solve this mystery. First, we’ll need a smooth, clear plastic bottle full of clear water. Next, we’ll need dark colored, or preferably charred tinder, such as a charred cloth, singed cattail fluff, burned cotton balls, or dark, dry bark. Finally, we’ll require an intense sun, time, and patience.
Now it was time to try the experiment. I held the bottle (cap down) close to the tinder on a hot, sunny afternoon. After repeatedly blinding myself with the glistening light from the continuously moving water of the bottle, I realized that the bottle of water needed to be completely motionless.
I positioned two forked sticks to hold the bottle at the correct angle. I also dug a small hole so I could vary the distance from the bottle to control the focal point of the light.
I have to be honest: this was the most exasperating thing I have ever tried. The breeze was continually moving the tinder out of position, the sun was shining one minute and disappearing the next and I never got more than a momentary wisp of smoke.
I was getting close to throwing in the towel and calling this ‘skill’ a fraud, when all of a sudden, a small smoking smudge remained smoking after the 100th time the tinder shifted position. And then it happened, more beautiful than I could have ever imagined – fire from sunlight!
To summarize, this does work! I think this method is definitely promising in a survival situation. But, as the saying goes – I wouldn’t bet the farm on it.
This is just one more helpful reminder to carry a few Bic lighters or a stack of matches with you if you want to be certain of starting your fire. But good luck if you want to try this for yourself!
Have you ever made a water bottle fire? Please tell us how you did it by leaving a comment.