Sotol Fire Drill

Sotol Fire Drill

Survivalists! Ready to start a fire?  This short slideshow explains how to make a make a successful fire using a fire drill made from a sotol stalk.  First, select a dry sotol stalk.  Sotol grows all over central and west Texas from about Waco to Mexico.  Cut two sections, each about two feet long, from below the flowering head of the stalk.  Whittle a little off two opposite sides of the larger piece to use as a hearth stick. Make the hearth stick flat on two sides.  Then smooth the remaining piece perfectly round, and gently round the small end.  Make a notch in the hearth stick as a guide for the first drill hole.

Place dry grass under the hearth stick to start the spark. Hold the hearth stick steady by placing a booted foot on it. Set the spindle stick in the notch on the hearth stick. Twist the spindle between your palms under a wisp of smoke appears.  With a gentle, steady breath, blow on the base of the spindle a little bit. Twist the spindle faster and faster between your palms as necessary.  Blow gently on the dry grass and smoke as necessary.  When you achieve ignition, carefully remove the hearth stick and spindle, and gently fold the dry grass over in your palms as you pick it up.  Carry it to the kindling and wood you have already stacked for your fire and place the spark gently amongst the kindling.  Blow gently again as necessary to ignite the kindling.

The process is demonstrated here by Texas State University students from San Marcos, Texas, at a recent archeological research site in the Lower Pecos.  I am grateful to Vickie Munoz, president of the Texas State Experimental Archeology Club, and Peter Shipman  for sharing their expertise with us.

Similar fire drills can be made using yucca stalk instead, and possibly lechugilla, although I haven’t seen one of those yet.  Let me know if you have experience with lechugilla in this way.  I suspect it would work just fine.

This is one way to use a sotol plant, to get you started on the challenge I issued several days ago.  I’m still look forward to your ideas for ways to use this versatile plant.  Please leave your suggestions in the comments section below.

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