Ancient Chinese Firestarter

Tue 7 Feb, 2017 12:08 pm
I keep seeing these magic fire-sticks in animated Chinese movies, I was wondering if someone could explain to me how these seem to ignite when they come in contact with the air.
View best answer, chosen by alight15
Tue 7 Feb, 2017 01:46 pm
It's cartoon magic. They're also able to pull out enormous mallets from behind their backs.
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  Selected Answer
Tue 7 Feb, 2017 01:54 pm
I agree with Infra that there's probably a lot of poetic license being taken in these cartoons, but they could be deriving their idea from something like this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fire_piston

It's also possible that the ancient Chinese were carrying around some type of small tube or container with an ember inside it and they would blow on it to perk it up.

Tue 7 Feb, 2017 10:07 pm
Re: rosborne979 (Post: # 6,360,001)
So it was just fancy incense in a tube? though that makes sense, they called it a torch, and why would they throw away the top?

I looked into the second link, of the sulfur match made in china and found it can be chemically lit by breaking a combination of sulfur,Potassium chlorate phosphorus and sulfuric acid and breaking it to start a chemical reaction; not just by rubbing sulfur together them together.
Still seems to be too advanced for them but I'm satisfied thank you.
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Wed 8 Feb, 2017 01:10 am
Since you've helped me get on the right track, I found people used a combination of green and dry strips of bark and a core of an easily combustible material that keeps a constant supply of tinder furnished to similar torches in the west, used to further light larger torches soaked in a flammable substance.
These were apparently replaced with beeswax coated twine which burned slowly.

I also found that strips of Bamboo and River Cane were used extensively in the prehistoric past for cave exploration. That is short bundles of burned, bundled cane were found in caves, apparently what was left of a hand held portion of the torch as it burned down too short to be held.
To make one of these torches they just bind up a bundle of River Cane or Bamboo strips and light them and blow them out, the 'tinder' that lights the embers is the strips of the torch beaten fine enough to catch fire easily. The top (that is seen being thrown away in the images above) kept the air supply low to keep them smoldering till the fire was needed.

This method was also used in making brushes :
Thu 9 Feb, 2017 05:41 am
Glad the links helped.
0 Replies
E Birdy
Thu 25 Aug, 2022 10:28 pm
Chinese Fire Sticks

China saw the invention of the first matches in 577. Northern Qi court ladies needed to start a fire for cooking and heating. They were unable to gather tinder, due to enemy troops blockading their city. So, they used pine tree needles coated with sulfur. They used embers to ignite the coated needles which in turn were used to start a fire.

These were so essential that in 950 AD Tao Gu, a poet and official from the Song court, described the technique for making these sulfur-coated pine needles and called them light-bringing slaves. Later these early matches were commonly known as fire-inch sticks.
Skipping in time. Here is my take on the fire stick that ignites when you blow on it.

1) Collect pine resin, melt it and mix it with sulfur.

2) Collect urine, then let it sit in an open container for a week. Add some finely-powdered charcoal, then boil until a white waxy substance is produced (white phosphorus).

3) QUICKLY, pour the liquid pine resin and sulfur mix into the white phosphorus and charcoal. Mix well.

4) Put into a reed/bamboo tube and cap tightly.

When needed, blowing on it will cause the white phosphorus to burn. This will ignite the charcoal and sulfur. They will ignite the pine tree resin which will burn for quite a while.
Thu 25 Aug, 2022 11:59 pm
@E Birdy,
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