Making a Fire Piston – SCOPES-DF

Lesson Details

Age Ranges

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CITC Fab Lab
CITC Fab Lab
Informal educator
We are Cook Inlet Tribal Council’s Fabrication Lab. We are based out of Anchorage Alaska serving Alaska Native and American Indian students based in the Anchorage school district. We teach design, building, and fabrication with a cultural emphasis. Our different… Read More


This lesson is on how to make a unique fire making tool called a Fire Piston. It ignites a small piece of tinder by rapid compression/depression of air inside of a cylinder. When used correctly, it can produce an ember in under a second. It can be a useful tool and a fun way to demonstrate a few scientific principals.

What You'll Need

⦁ 6in piece of 1/2in Aluminum tubing  

⦁ 7in piece of 3/8in Aluminum Solid Rod

⦁ Resin

⦁ Small O-ring

⦁ Mold making materials


The Instructions

Making the fire piston

Here is the full layout for the process

⦁ Cut a 6 inch section out of the tubing AND rod. A drill and a hacksaw make for fun and fast cutting.

⦁ Score the end of the solid rod about ½ inch from the tip. This is where the O-Ring will go. The same drill/hacksaw technique works really well to evenly score the rod. Score it deep enough so that the rod and O-Ring will just barely fit in the 1/2in tubing. Lightly sand one end of the tubing so it does not cut the O-Ring while you are testing it.