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Cell Phone Survival Tricks

I came across an article on the website Art of Manliness by Creek Stewart that absolutely intrigued me. Creek Stewart is the instructor at Willow Haven Outdoors School of Survival, Preparedness & Bush craft and let me tell you this guy knows his stuff. As a student constantly seeking new ideas and methods of surviving if the need were to present itself, I am enthralled by his articles.

This particular article discusses how broken cell phones can be put to use in a survival situation. I never really considered the possibilities of what could be done with a cell phone except using useful apps until the battery goes dead. Of course you wouldn't want to bust up a perfectly good phone but if yours is broken or you find or "salvage" one off somebody, Creek shares some really cool ideas of how it could be put to good use.

Signal Mirror

It's always a good idea to have some type of mirror handy. A mirror has been vital to many rescues on land and water. Creek explains that behind most screens in a phone is a mirror like metal that can be used for signaling, who knew? I've never actually seen a cell phone's insides before Creek discussed the idea. He goes on to explain the classic way of sighting your target using your fingers in a "v" shape with your target in between them. The sun must also reflect through your fingers or you will not have light to bounce at your target.

A good tip for the ladies: I usually save all my empty makeup kits and stuff them in all my survival kits. Not only does it have a mirror but it is a good area to mix up make shift camouflage face makeup in a pinch. Guys you may want to steal a few from the ladies.


I have seen the method that Creek uses to create a compass before. In this method you use a magnet to magnetize a wire and then float it in a still pool of water on a leaf, piece of paper or small wood chip and it will point north. Creek explains that most of the speakers in phones contain a magnet that can be used to accomplish this. He also finds wire in the phone to accomplish the task. Creek explains that you have to find "ferrous" wire and copper won't work. Sorry for being a novice but I had no idea what ferrous meant. For those of you with me it means that it contains iron.

An interesting tip I picked up in the past is this same process of magnetizing a wire can also be done with silk. I really don't know why it works but it does so your silk shirt may do more than just make you look good.

Cutting Edges

Creek explains that the microchip boards make a very good cutting edge. He lashed them to a stick for a type of ax and formed one into a arrowhead that could be attached to a spear or arrow. Very ingenious! They looked pretty strong as well.

Fire Starter

This was very intriguing. Everyone knows that the positive and negative terminals of a battery can be connected with a wire and steel wool in between to start a fire but did you ever consider that a battery in a phone can do the same thing? Creek did. He explains that he had to strip off the protective battery coating to get to the battery terminals. I didn't even know those batteries had a covering. Just never paid that much attention to it. Also he makes a valid point by pointing out that steel wool is not something that you generally have on hand so he just connected the points together with the wire salvaged from the phone. It created a very hot wire for a very limited time.

Fishing Lures

This one is pretty obvious. There are lots of little metal parts in a phone that can be turned into effective fishing lures and Creek made some pretty cool ones.

Thanks to Creek Stewart for sharing your wonderful knowledge with those of us who are interested enough to study it just in case the day comes when we need it. You should check this article out: There are also some great pictures there of all the items that he presents.

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