Monday, March 23, 2009

Quest for Fire

As I mentioned in previous posts, I am taking safety very serious and trying to plan for any eventuality, given that I am travelling in a very populated area I don’t think I have to worry about most of this stuff however, I would much rather know what to do in a situation should it occur.

I know how to start a campfire many different ways, I did grow up in north country after all but somehow I don’t think throw a bunch of gasoline on some wood and throw in a match is going to cut it if I happen to be stuck somewhere and need to create one quickly.

Recommendation is to bring at least 2 methods of creating a fire, I am bringing 3 and debated on a 4th but think that’s a little too over cautious.
· Bic Lighter
· Waterproof Matches
· Swedish FireSteel

The waterproof matches I stored in a waterproof matchbox, looks like lipstick container with an O-Ring to seal out water. I also put a striker inside as these matches are not self starting.

Swedish FireSteel has a huge cool factor. Plastic key with a metal rod (ferrocerium) that when you strike it, showers a blast of sparks around 3000-5000 Degrees Celsius. Enough to light a fire even in bad conditions and also works wet.

Also considered a Magnesium stick which essentially does the same thing, you scrape off little shavings (Magnesium isn’t combustible in solid form) and then light it with the provided striker flint. Even though the Magnesium stick is cheaper, $5 vs. $15 both are reasonable.

I read that the magnesium shavings are prone to the wind blowing them away and does take a little extra setup for scraping the shavings so went with the FireSteel as it seemed like less of a pain.

Essentially I’m lazy and if you need to start a fire you have to find Tinder to light it with, really don’t want to go scavenging around if I don’t have to, found a great little way to make your own that is cheap and will do the trick really well.

Take cotton balls (must be 100% cotton) then cover them liberally with Vaseline and then store them in a zip lock bag. If you light a cotton ball without Vaseline it goes up like paper, fast like in seconds and not very hot, not something you want to start a fire with. Vaseline is petroleum based so it burns nicely.

To use, split open a cotton ball to expose the part that doesn’t have Vaseline on it, light it with match or FireSteel and voila, burns for around a minute and very hot, plenty enough time to get the fire going. You can split the cotton ball in half and light 2 fires with one cotton ball. Added bonus is the longer you let the Vaseline set in the more waterproof it becomes.

I tried it out last night a few times with my FireSteel just to know how to use the thing and it works perfectly, first strike almost every time and no more than two. Don’t try this indoors kids nor without parental supervision, this thing throws a lot of hot sparks.

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