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Mike & Jess

Home Made (DIY) fire starters

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As with most outdoors people, I pride myself in believing in a jam, I could get a fire going while in the bush.

With the nice Cold and rainy weather we've been having, I've started testing out various homemade fire starters and stuff I might have while I'm out in the bush and caught in a jam.

 

One of my favorite homemade starters is coiled corrugated cardboard coated in candle wax (home made Bunsen burner). They are fairly small, and fairly slow (hot) burning, will generally get a fire going with no left over unburnables.

 

If caught in a jam in the bush, scavenging my first aid kit (always have one), I'll use cotton balls and hand sanitizer. They work, but can be tough to use if it's raining or really wet out.

 

Any other suggestions for DIY fire starters, both prepared at home for a backpack camping trip or if caught in a jam?

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1) collect your dryer lint in a ziploc bag

 

2) melt extra candle wax (in a double boiler arrangement) then pour the candle wax into cupcake liners partially filled with wood flakes / chips (same stuff you would line a hamster cage with) or small scraps of shredded newspapers.

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As with most outdoors people, I pride myself in believing in a jam, I could get a fire going while in the bush.

With the nice Cold and rainy weather we've been having, I've started testing out various homemade fire starters and stuff I might have while I'm out in the bush and caught in a jam.

 

One of my favorite homemade starters is coiled corrugated cardboard coated in candle wax (home made Bunsen burner). They are fairly small, and fairly slow (hot) burning, will generally get a fire going with no left over unburnables.

 

If caught in a jam in the bush, scavenging my first aid kit (always have one), I'll use cotton balls and hand sanitizer. They work, but can be tough to use if it's raining or really wet out.

 

Any other suggestions for DIY fire starters, both prepared at home for a backpack camping trip or if caught in a jam?

 

Getting a fire going is always a good discussion. Check out Starting Fires if you haven't already.

As for DIY fire starters, I could quip that I always start them myself, but I won't. :rolleyes:

And no I'm not doing those 'interpretations' any more... at least during the fall. Still not sure what that guy was burning in there, but several of us were seeing things, I just got the down wind side. :blink:

 

When you talk of coiled corrugated paper coated in wax, I think I got the picture in my mind. Are yours done in a container, I've done large 'candles' made by putting it into a small tuna can in a coil and then pouring in hot wax. Just have to pry up the middle a bit to light. Packaging with a few waterproofed matches and a striker can help. Mostly use those for camping / survival. Good Idea! Some of them burn long enough to warm up water as well. OK on the cotton balls and alcohol spray, one can also add a bit of Petroleum Jelly to it as well for when you get ignition. Makes it hotter and longer burning. Most of the long fibrous things burn quite quickly and are at best tinder without help. I also like to keep F/A supplies for F/A if possible, not that I wouldn't if the situation called for it. I carry clean lint from the trap of a clothes Dryer, which ignites quite well and can use the PJ or other fuel additives as well plus it is cheap and easy to find. Your place or the laundromat. Gets additional use out of those clothes you are slowly destroying in the process of cleaning them. Of course it's a moot point if you can't get it to ignite in the first place. Making that first ignition can be the hard part. Matches and lighters sometimes don't like the conditions, wet can soak matches and ruin some striking surfaces quickly, even strike anywhere matches don't seem to be quite that anymore. Try and see what works for yours, fine garnet paper will even light those 'weatherproof' ones when the small provided strip falls apart, but it still has to stay dry. If it is sunny but wet (after a rain) even those darn things can be set off using a magnifier lens that won't normally be hot enough to start anything burning. I've done it with my reading glasses, but more often the little magnifier on my compass, even the bottom of a shiny pop can can be made to do it and you don't have to open the can either. Point is you have to get some serious heat going to light up in the first place. Lighters often fail because of the fuel choice, lighter fluid types can evaporate dry or get used up, butane lighters don't like serious cold since it slows the vapourizing process, warm them up first on your body. Flints on both types fail when they get wet (lubricated) making sparks almost or completely absent. You can dry flints of all sorts by warming up til they dry off. This goes for flint and steel as well... wet is not useful. Save time and dry out well while building the fire site.

 

Another non DIY thing is the fire site itself. I always see newbies pile up the firewood in the area of the fire then light the tinder adding small kindling a bit at a time hoping it will get bigger. Important to make sure all heat generated by the initial fire warms up something (ideally several things) just a bit bigger. If one waits for the fire to grow, the firewood pieces don't get warmed up in time. It has to be a cascade right from the beginning.

 

Sparks can come from many sources, rocks and steel, flint isn't the only material. Use a small battery and wire, even steel wool can heat up that way to incandescent.

 

I'm looking forward to seeing inventive ways to make a spark to ignition point and reliable tinders. One thing I do use is 'tree beard' or whatever it's known as locally. That stuff will burn most of the time really well, but being alive, it is green and moist while alive and so far I haven't been able to light with a flint/steel while it is green. Once really dry it works fine... that's where the dryer lint comes in handy to get it going.

 

Doug 7rxc

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1) collect your dryer lint in a ziploc bag

 

2) melt extra candle wax (in a double boiler arrangement) then pour the candle wax into cupcake liners partially filled with wood flakes / chips (same stuff you would line a hamster cage with) or small scraps of shredded newspapers.

Your #2 idea I believe I have heard it called a "Magic Muffin". Not sure if it is the correct name, but that is what I have heard it called.

I have yet to try them. They would pack really nice in my pack as they are small, and probably work much better then a tea light as it would generate more heat then a wick.

 

As with most outdoors people, I pride myself in believing in a jam, I could get a fire going while in the bush.

With the nice Cold and rainy weather we've been having, I've started testing out various homemade fire starters and stuff I might have while I'm out in the bush and caught in a jam.

 

One of my favorite homemade starters is coiled corrugated cardboard coated in candle wax (home made Bunsen burner). They are fairly small, and fairly slow (hot) burning, will generally get a fire going with no left over unburnables.

 

If caught in a jam in the bush, scavenging my first aid kit (always have one), I'll use cotton balls and hand sanitizer. They work, but can be tough to use if it's raining or really wet out.

 

Any other suggestions for DIY fire starters, both prepared at home for a backpack camping trip or if caught in a jam?

 

Getting a fire going is always a good discussion. Check out Starting Fires if you haven't already.

As for DIY fire starters, I could quip that I always start them myself, but I won't. :rolleyes:

And no I'm not doing those 'interpretations' any more... at least during the fall. Still not sure what that guy was burning in there, but several of us were seeing things, I just got the down wind side. :blink:

 

When you talk of coiled corrugated paper coated in wax, I think I got the picture in my mind. Are yours done in a container, I've done large 'candles' made by putting it into a small tuna can in a coil and then pouring in hot wax. Just have to pry up the middle a bit to light. Packaging with a few waterproofed matches and a striker can help. Mostly use those for camping / survival. Good Idea! Some of them burn long enough to warm up water as well. OK on the cotton balls and alcohol spray, one can also add a bit of Petroleum Jelly to it as well for when you get ignition. Makes it hotter and longer burning. Most of the long fibrous things burn quite quickly and are at best tinder without help. I also like to keep F/A supplies for F/A if possible, not that I wouldn't if the situation called for it. I carry clean lint from the trap of a clothes Dryer, which ignites quite well and can use the PJ or other fuel additives as well plus it is cheap and easy to find. Your place or the laundromat. Gets additional use out of those clothes you are slowly destroying in the process of cleaning them. Of course it's a moot point if you can't get it to ignite in the first place. Making that first ignition can be the hard part. Matches and lighters sometimes don't like the conditions, wet can soak matches and ruin some striking surfaces quickly, even strike anywhere matches don't seem to be quite that anymore. Try and see what works for yours, fine garnet paper will even light those 'weatherproof' ones when the small provided strip falls apart, but it still has to stay dry. If it is sunny but wet (after a rain) even those darn things can be set off using a magnifier lens that won't normally be hot enough to start anything burning. I've done it with my reading glasses, but more often the little magnifier on my compass, even the bottom of a shiny pop can can be made to do it and you don't have to open the can either. Point is you have to get some serious heat going to light up in the first place. Lighters often fail because of the fuel choice, lighter fluid types can evaporate dry or get used up, butane lighters don't like serious cold since it slows the vapourizing process, warm them up first on your body. Flints on both types fail when they get wet (lubricated) making sparks almost or completely absent. You can dry flints of all sorts by warming up til they dry off. This goes for flint and steel as well... wet is not useful. Save time and dry out well while building the fire site.

 

Another non DIY thing is the fire site itself. I always see newbies pile up the firewood in the area of the fire then light the tinder adding small kindling a bit at a time hoping it will get bigger. Important to make sure all heat generated by the initial fire warms up something (ideally several things) just a bit bigger. If one waits for the fire to grow, the firewood pieces don't get warmed up in time. It has to be a cascade right from the beginning.

 

Sparks can come from many sources, rocks and steel, flint isn't the only material. Use a small battery and wire, even steel wool can heat up that way to incandescent.

 

I'm looking forward to seeing inventive ways to make a spark to ignition point and reliable tinders. One thing I do use is 'tree beard' or whatever it's known as locally. That stuff will burn most of the time really well, but being alive, it is green and moist while alive and so far I haven't been able to light with a flint/steel while it is green. Once really dry it works fine... that's where the dryer lint comes in handy to get it going.

 

Doug 7rxc

You are correct with the bolded text. Use use to use them to boil water back in the day. I found that if you remove take it out of the can (use a string to keep it all together), it makes a good fire starter and leaves nothing in the fire pit when you are done. The underside also tends to lack a bit of wax in areas, so it lights really easily from the bottom and the wax coated end doesn't get wet from the ground (if it's wet).

 

Below is a quick list I had posted up on the Northern Ontario Geocachers forum under the 'Outdoor Living' section. It needs a bit of clean up and I have a few more to add with comments. I figured I would get some more ideas to add to the list. The more ideas and options known, the better chance someone might have of just having the right things in hand.

 

Hand sanitizer

Most hand sanitizer contains alcohol and will burn fairly easily. One thing to remember with alcohol is it burns cool and like anything that burns' date=' requires air to burn. If using hand sanitizer, apply below the burnable and not too much on it. The flame from the burning alcohol will ignite the burnable if it does not consume all the oxygen.

 

[b']Bug Spray[/b]

Like hair spray, a can of bug spray will burn. Just be careful with the can as it is pressurized. I've been told that most bug sprays are flammable, but I have not tested many.

 

Duct tape

I've never tried this, but I do always carry some in my pack. From what I have been told, it may need a bit of persuasion, but when it burns, it'll burn reasonably slow and allow time for burnable to catch.

 

tea lights (candles)

Tea light candles are small and pack well. They are a bit harder to use as you cannot suffocate the flame. It will burn pretty long, which will make drying burnable a bit easier.

 

Cardboard burner

This requires a small round, shallow can, candle wax and corrugated cardboard.

Cut strips of corrugated cardboard the slightly wider than the can is tall. Coil the cardboard inside the can until it is full.

Using candle wax, coat the cardboard with wax.

Allow to cool.

You can either remove from the can (using string to hold together) or leave in the can. I prefer to carry this without the can as it leaves no unburnable materials in the fire.

This works really well as the cardboard will burn reasonably hot. The wax will slow the burn and allow the cardboard to burn much longer. You can make larger or smaller cardboard bundles to suit your backing. Keep in mind, the larger the roll, the hotter and larger the burn area.

 

Lighter fluid

Like the hand sanitizer, this stuff burns cool and will evaporate quickly. Spray the Lighter fluid below the burnable and not on top. If you spray it on the burnable, it'll not heat the burnable enough to catch, and consume all the oxygen your burnable require to burn.

 

Magic Muffins

I've heard about these, but never made them or used them.

To make these, you will need muffin cups (paper), candle wax and wood shavings/chips.

Heat wax until melted. Mix wood chips (2:1 wax to chips) and poor into muffin cups. A wick can be added, but from what I've been told, not required.

Allow to cool and pack.

To light, light paper cup or wick.

NOG thread: http://forum.northernontariogeocachers.com/viewtopic.php?f=12&t=1634

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I used to use paper egg cartons filled with either wadded up newspaper or DRY sawdust, then pour in wax. You cut the cups apart and the somewhat ragged edges are easy to light, and they burn about 10 minutes. The canned cardboard trick sounds good too. I might try that with a small cat food can to save space. Another useful material is Jute twine. It's cheap, and when "unwound" the fibers will even catch a spark from a ferro rod. It burns pretty fast, but can be used as a tinder bundle to start the rest of the fire.

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I used to use paper egg cartons filled with either wadded up newspaper or DRY sawdust, then pour in wax. You cut the cups apart and the somewhat ragged edges are easy to light, and they burn about 10 minutes. The canned cardboard trick sounds good too. I might try that with a small cat food can to save space. Another useful material is Jute twine. It's cheap, and when "unwound" the fibers will even catch a spark from a ferro rod. It burns pretty fast, but can be used as a tinder bundle to start the rest of the fire.

 

I think the egg carton might actually burn longer and even hotter then the muffin cup liners, so that would work probably better as a fire starter. Think I would stick with the wood chips though. Sawdust might not get the heat of wood chips. I haven't tried sawdust mixed with wax, so I can not say anything from experience.

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I'll toss in that my 'canned' corrugated boxboard strips thing I picked up elsewhere, and that the idea for the can was to protect the wax / paper structure for a survival kit we were building at the time. The can used matched the diameter of a larger can that was intended to hold other survival gear. The 'candle' could be turned with the open end against the top of the larger one and duct taped together (could have one on both ends actually). That was a long time ago, and since I made other better SK's since, I just made the 'candle' part.

 

I like the idea of completely consumable for simple firestarters a lot. I have lots of those paper egg containers already. Also was sitting thinking about this as I focused on a wastebasket full of cardboard 'cores' from TP and Paper towel (there are lots of others too). Always like to recycle products or reuse them... so it dawned on me that cutting the cores into shorter lengths (your choice) and then rolling the corrugated strips inside and waxing them you have a pretty good compromise. Same for other fill mixes like paper or chips / strips and/or just paper for the wax to bind up. Lots of ways to do the same thing.

 

Someone mentioned Tea Lites and maybe include votive candles as well... Some are fine as is, but I got really miffed at some of them for producing very small flames IF you could get them to light at all. Made a fix to that. Almost all of them have a little metal tee that holds the wick which is placed before pouring the wax in. I found that if you melt the wax, remove the tee, remove the wick and replace the wick with heavier cotton string ( you can usually pull the wick through and then use a fine pointed tool to open up the metal tube for re crimping if you need to). I just use cotton cord of the type you use for attaching tags to bags etc.

Try to match a decent small candle for size or experiment. Then just stand the tee in the outer shell and gently repour the melted wax. Avoid melting the wax over a flame, you can use a wax pot in boiling water OK. or some other safe melting method.

I found that this made really effective mini candles. Save costs by collecting the useless ones other people discard in frustration and recycle them. With thicker cord than designed for you don't even have to crimp them again. Getting it through sometimes takes thought, similar to threading a needle.

 

Doug 7rxc

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I'll toss in that my 'canned' corrugated boxboard strips thing I picked up elsewhere, and that the idea for the can was to protect the wax / paper structure for a survival kit we were building at the time. The can used matched the diameter of a larger can that was intended to hold other survival gear. The 'candle' could be turned with the open end against the top of the larger one and duct taped together (could have one on both ends actually). That was a long time ago, and since I made other better SK's since, I just made the 'candle' part.

 

I like the idea of completely consumable for simple firestarters a lot. I have lots of those paper egg containers already. Also was sitting thinking about this as I focused on a wastebasket full of cardboard 'cores' from TP and Paper towel (there are lots of others too). Always like to recycle products or reuse them... so it dawned on me that cutting the cores into shorter lengths (your choice) and then rolling the corrugated strips inside and waxing them you have a pretty good compromise. Same for other fill mixes like paper or chips / strips and/or just paper for the wax to bind up. Lots of ways to do the same thing.

 

Doug 7rxc

 

The paper towel or TP rolls would be perfect. It would also keep the size small for easier packing. Never considered it, great idea.

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I save candles (not pillar candles, obviously) that have burned down to not-so-useful, then cut to 1" bits, which I trim and burn a bit to start the wick, so to speak. I carry a big handful in my pack. A few of them will create a long-lasting flame to start a fire over.

 

Cheap, easy and a good way to use up otherwise throw-aways.

 

And potato chips work fairly well, if you can bear to burn them. Oily little vegetable wicks, they are.

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I save candles (not pillar candles, obviously) that have burned down to not-so-useful, then cut to 1" bits, which I trim and burn a bit to start the wick, so to speak. I carry a big handful in my pack. A few of them will create a long-lasting flame to start a fire over.

 

Cheap, easy and a good way to use up otherwise throw-aways.

 

And potato chips work fairly well, if you can bear to burn them. Oily little vegetable wicks, they are.

I've heard people say potato chips. I rarely have any at home, let alone out on the trails. Too hard to pack.

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Lots of great ideas. One of these days I'm going to try the drier lint idea. But I pride myself on natural tinders, and my all-time favorite is birch bark. No need to strip it from a living tree... birch bark is incredibly waterproof, and even the bark from a soggy, rotten tree lying on the ground will burn like gasoline at the least bit of provocation, and it will burn hot enough to get wet kindling dry enough to burn. I've never failed to start a fire when I can find some birch bark.

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Lots of great ideas. One of these days I'm going to try the drier lint idea. But I pride myself on natural tinders, and my all-time favorite is birch bark. No need to strip it from a living tree... birch bark is incredibly waterproof, and even the bark from a soggy, rotten tree lying on the ground will burn like gasoline at the least bit of provocation, and it will burn hot enough to get wet kindling dry enough to burn. I've never failed to start a fire when I can find some birch bark.

Definitely agree that birch bark works great. We do have a lack of them in some areas since a lot of them where killed off a number of years ago with a bug that came through. There are still reasonably easy to find in most areas, but some just don't have any left.

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Lots of great ideas. One of these days I'm going to try the drier lint idea. But I pride myself on natural tinders, and my all-time favorite is birch bark. No need to strip it from a living tree... birch bark is incredibly waterproof, and even the bark from a soggy, rotten tree lying on the ground will burn like gasoline at the least bit of provocation, and it will burn hot enough to get wet kindling dry enough to burn. I've never failed to start a fire when I can find some birch bark.

 

I've used lots of birch bark for starting things up in the past, and will mention that the wood itself is great for kindling when split up finely in progressive sizes. Small pieces make good feathersticks. I must say that there is a gray area between what I consider 'tinder' and what is 'kindling', not much argument about what fuel is. In a general sense I guess the material used for initial ignition is 'tinder', but, I've always used a measure of what can be ignited by a flint/steel combo for 'tinder'. I must admit I've not tried that with shredded BB, not too common out here. The drier lint thing is easy to flash, but burns really quick which is why a little petroleum jelly worked in to a surrounding lay helps get the fire going.

 

I've been thinking about making fire starters of they various types discussed with 'progessive' stages built in to them so one doesn't have to be choosy about how to get them burning in the first place. Just 'hit' the middle section with whatever you want to try and the starter will do the rest of it, stacking fuels is up to you.

 

Doug 7rxc

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Lots of great ideas. One of these days I'm going to try the drier lint idea. But I pride myself on natural tinders, and my all-time favorite is birch bark. No need to strip it from a living tree... birch bark is incredibly waterproof, and even the bark from a soggy, rotten tree lying on the ground will burn like gasoline at the least bit of provocation, and it will burn hot enough to get wet kindling dry enough to burn. I've never failed to start a fire when I can find some birch bark.

 

I've used lots of birch bark for starting things up in the past, and will mention that the wood itself is great for kindling when split up finely in progressive sizes. Small pieces make good feathersticks. I must say that there is a gray area between what I consider 'tinder' and what is 'kindling', not much argument about what fuel is. In a general sense I guess the material used for initial ignition is 'tinder', but, I've always used a measure of what can be ignited by a flint/steel combo for 'tinder'. I must admit I've not tried that with shredded BB, not too common out here. The drier lint thing is easy to flash, but burns really quick which is why a little petroleum jelly worked in to a surrounding lay helps get the fire going.

 

I've been thinking about making fire starters of they various types discussed with 'progessive' stages built in to them so one doesn't have to be choosy about how to get them burning in the first place. Just 'hit' the middle section with whatever you want to try and the starter will do the rest of it, stacking fuels is up to you.

 

Doug 7rxc

I always considered tinder to anything the size (thickness) of grass or pine needles. Much thicker then that is kindling (branches, etc). At least that is my definition of tinder and kindling.

 

As for your testing... Would be very interested in the results.

I've been wanting to try the different DIY firestarters under wet, nasty conditions (the type of weather a good starter would be needed) and see how each one faired out. It would also give me more practice, which honestly, tough fire starting practice is something I need. We have camp fires all the time at home (life in the country), but easy start materials are way too available at home, and there is no pressures of being cold or hungry interfering.

Unfortunately life as been getting in the way of this fun test.

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i just cut up those fire starter logs into small cubes. They are basically wood fiber compressed into a waxy substance. I know a guy who made the egg carton thing. we wound up lighting his egg carton starters with my fire cubes. My method may be "cheating", but i'm all about simplicity and not having to spend more time making something than I will get use out of it.

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i just cut up those fire starter logs into small cubes. They are basically wood fiber compressed into a waxy substance. I know a guy who made the egg carton thing. we wound up lighting his egg carton starters with my fire cubes. My method may be "cheating", but i'm all about simplicity and not having to spend more time making something than I will get use out of it.

Not cheating at all, most of those I've see were 'commercially' made by someone... however probably grew out of similar discussions by other campers and grew into a product. That is OK by me.

 

Now the big question is, how did you get them to ignite? Matches? Lighter? Magnifier Lens? Flint and Steel? Bow/drill? Electricity? Maybe spontaneous combustion? Not trying to be difficult here, but as I have said earlier, there is a difference to me between fuel (kindling) and tinder... and means of ignition. I'm truly interested in your chosen methods. That first spark may be all you get. Should not ever be, but it might be! For camping it may not be more than annoying to fail, improvising in some circumstances can be interesting diversion, but in a crunch you need to succeed. That is where firelighting takes place and it is an artform to some of us.

 

Doug 7rxc

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Although this would definitely be cheating and a little off topic because it's not something home made, I wonder how reliable those flares would be at starting fires?

 

At Walmart the other day, on a package of flares it stated they could be used as fire starters, which made me kind of interested. I was curious because I'm interested in how to start fires in the rain, if I suspect hypothermia may be coming in and need something powerful which will dry whatever I'm trying to light. However, I refrained from buying the flare set because it felt heavier than one of their waterproof match stick containers.

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Although this would definitely be cheating and a little off topic because it's not something home made, I wonder how reliable those flares would be at starting fires?

 

At Walmart the other day, on a package of flares it stated they could be used as fire starters, which made me kind of interested. I was curious because I'm interested in how to start fires in the rain, if I suspect hypothermia may be coming in and need something powerful which will dry whatever I'm trying to light. However, I refrained from buying the flare set because it felt heavier than one of their waterproof match stick containers.

I've never tried a flare for fire starting (never used one period to be honest). I could see that they could potentially work, and would be a dual purpose item (safety and fire starter).

Based on a quick read regarding flares, most are now created using nitrate oxidizers which has a lower energy (heat) then the previously used perchlorate oxidizers (disclaimer; I'm not a chemist). I would think that the more violent reaction of the flare chemicals could make keeping tinder together a bit more tough. Still sounds like a possible fire starter.

On a side note to this, my grandfather did show me how to use the cotton and gun powder out of a 12gauge shell to light a fire when I was a kid. Not the safest, but does work can if out hunting in the fall... is an option (one of the last resorts in my opinion though).

 

I would say try a flare in a controlled environment. See how it works and how to use it efficiently. If you know how to use a fire starter kit in a controlled, relaxed environment, it'll be easier to use when conditions are ideal.

 

Slightly off topic:

The following video was a drunken experiment while camp ground camping with some city friends. We had a few extra sparklers and marshmellows left over after the kids went to bed, and thought we would see when you mixed sparklers (similar chemical compond as flares I think) with sugar. Not my voice you hear. I was quietly recording it.

Edited by Mike & Jess

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Been a while since I did the marshmellow on sparkler thing... cool video.

 

As for flares... road flares or marine hand held (even smoke get hot) I'd say okay on.

Not so much for the aerial projection type (pencil flares or marine star shells)... they both have a launcher charge, often a 'report' or bang charge and the flare itself. That could easily bounce back on you if you failed to contain it somehow. It's bad enough when people don't aim them up into clear air space before firing.... and yes they can cause fires even when you don't want one.

 

I've never seen a firelighting cartridge (say one that just comes out the end and burns for a few seconds) but that has crossed my mind a few times as being something possible... for the kit... but then how do you tell them apart. Years back I was taught to always scan smoke grenades on hand to make sure someone didn't try to make smoke with the one marke W.P. that looked identical in construction and colour as white smoke... WP is a combat grenade and you don't want to be around when it goes off...

 

Looks like we are in for fire testing weather soon... and the snow is starting to come down the mountains.

 

Doug 7rxc

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Flares actually burn too hot in the range of 2,900+ Deg F and hotter. It'll burn right through the wood wihtout laying down any coal base to keep a fire self-sustaining. They make the worst fire starting utensils and unless you can fire it in the air for help, the worst things wieght and hazard wise you can carry in your backpack.

 

They're good for dry conditions, but not so good for wet conditions.

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Lots of great ideas. One of these days I'm going to try the drier lint idea. But I pride myself on natural tinders, and my all-time favorite is birch bark. No need to strip it from a living tree... birch bark is incredibly waterproof, and even the bark from a soggy, rotten tree lying on the ground will burn like gasoline at the least bit of provocation, and it will burn hot enough to get wet kindling dry enough to burn. I've never failed to start a fire when I can find some birch bark.

 

I've used lots of birch bark for starting things up in the past, and will mention that the wood itself is great for kindling when split up finely in progressive sizes. Small pieces make good feathersticks. I must say that there is a gray area between what I consider 'tinder' and what is 'kindling', not much argument about what fuel is. In a general sense I guess the material used for initial ignition is 'tinder', but, I've always used a measure of what can be ignited by a flint/steel combo for 'tinder'. I must admit I've not tried that with shredded BB, not too common out here. The drier lint thing is easy to flash, but burns really quick which is why a little petroleum jelly worked in to a surrounding lay helps get the fire going.

 

I've been thinking about making fire starters of they various types discussed with 'progessive' stages built in to them so one doesn't have to be choosy about how to get them burning in the first place. Just 'hit' the middle section with whatever you want to try and the starter will do the rest of it, stacking fuels is up to you.

 

Doug 7rxc

I always considered tinder to anything the size (thickness) of grass or pine needles. Much thicker then that is kindling (branches, etc). At least that is my definition of tinder and kindling.

 

As for your testing... Would be very interested in the results.

I've been wanting to try the different DIY firestarters under wet, nasty conditions (the type of weather a good starter would be needed) and see how each one faired out. It would also give me more practice, which honestly, tough fire starting practice is something I need. We have camp fires all the time at home (life in the country), but easy start materials are way too available at home, and there is no pressures of being cold or hungry interfering.

Unfortunately life as been getting in the way of this fun test.

 

I would say that it is tinder if you could start it with nothing more than a spark (even if YOU are using a blowtorch to get it going). If a spark won't get it burning, it ain't tinder.

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Although this would definitely be cheating and a little off topic because it's not something home made, I wonder how reliable those flares would be at starting fires?

 

At Walmart the other day, on a package of flares it stated they could be used as fire starters, which made me kind of interested. I was curious because I'm interested in how to start fires in the rain, if I suspect hypothermia may be coming in and need something powerful which will dry whatever I'm trying to light. However, I refrained from buying the flare set because it felt heavier than one of their waterproof match stick containers.

 

Yeah, and besides that, flares make for lousy throwdown containers.

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Flares actually burn too hot in the range of 2,900+ Deg F and hotter. It'll burn right through the wood wihtout laying down any coal base to keep a fire self-sustaining. They make the worst fire starting utensils and unless you can fire it in the air for help, the worst things wieght and hazard wise you can carry in your backpack.

 

They're good for dry conditions, but not so good for wet conditions.

That is one reason I don't recommend them (road flares). However projection flares bounce which is a hazard.

 

Another thing about road flares is the method of use, anytime I've used one for lighting a fire it was held in hand and used like a big long lasting match held under the kindling (which was usually either slash or dry grass etc. ( fuel burnout or backfiring on a wildfire). That is not the same thing as a camp or survival fire situation as you know. Still a good comment of yours, something to consider.

 

Anyway, today on CNN.com I noticed an article re a sunscreen recall... at first I thought of something similar I said yesterday in the thread on trying to light...

 

Sunscreen Recall

 

Never thought about that as a starter fluid. Think it would require a bit of wick like most, but maybe not since it was happening on bare skin.

 

Doug 7rxc

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Flares actually burn too hot in the range of 2,900+ Deg F and hotter. It'll burn right through the wood wihtout laying down any coal base to keep a fire self-sustaining. They make the worst fire starting utensils and unless you can fire it in the air for help, the worst things wieght and hazard wise you can carry in your backpack.

 

They're good for dry conditions, but not so good for wet conditions.

That is one reason I don't recommend them (road flares). However projection flares bounce which is a hazard.

 

Another thing about road flares is the method of use, anytime I've used one for lighting a fire it was held in hand and used like a big long lasting match held under the kindling (which was usually either slash or dry grass etc. ( fuel burnout or backfiring on a wildfire). That is not the same thing as a camp or survival fire situation as you know. Still a good comment of yours, something to consider.

 

Anyway, today on CNN.com I noticed an article re a sunscreen recall... at first I thought of something similar I said yesterday in the thread on trying to light...

 

Sunscreen Recall

 

Never thought about that as a starter fluid. Think it would require a bit of wick like most, but maybe not since it was happening on bare skin.

 

Doug 7rxc

 

It's not the sunscreen that is flamable; it is the propellent. I suppose you could try for a blowtorch, but it also might blow up in your hand.

 

Have I missed a suggestion to carry a creme brulee torch?

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And potato chips work fairly well, if you can bear to burn them. Oily little vegetable wicks, they are.

I've heard people say potato chips. I rarely have any at home, let alone out on the trails. Too hard to pack.

 

Dorito's work well as kindling. You can just throw a small bag in your pack........and eat them if you get hungry. Talk about dual-purpose. :)

 

For those who have never done this, I advise to test it out. Stack up a few Doritos and light the corner of one on fire, and see how well they burn.

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Flares actually burn too hot in the range of 2,900+ Deg F and hotter. It'll burn right through the wood wihtout laying down any coal base to keep a fire self-sustaining. They make the worst fire starting utensils and unless you can fire it in the air for help, the worst things wieght and hazard wise you can carry in your backpack.

 

They're good for dry conditions, but not so good for wet conditions.

That is one reason I don't recommend them (road flares). However projection flares bounce which is a hazard.

 

Another thing about road flares is the method of use, anytime I've used one for lighting a fire it was held in hand and used like a big long lasting match held under the kindling (which was usually either slash or dry grass etc. ( fuel burnout or backfiring on a wildfire). That is not the same thing as a camp or survival fire situation as you know. Still a good comment of yours, something to consider.

 

Anyway, today on CNN.com I noticed an article re a sunscreen recall... at first I thought of something similar I said yesterday in the thread on trying to light...

 

Sunscreen Recall

 

Never thought about that as a starter fluid. Think it would require a bit of wick like most, but maybe not since it was happening on bare skin.

 

Doug 7rxc

 

It's not the sunscreen that is flamable; it is the propellent. I suppose you could try for a blowtorch, but it also might blow up in your hand.

 

Have I missed a suggestion to carry a creme brulee torch?

 

Bug spray also works. Interestingly enough, the bugs are not bad when we use it to start the fire. Cooked food does taste kind of funny though...

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Hi

I use Cotton wool balls with Petroleum jelly in the middle they burn longer than cotton wool on its own. You can also put it inside tumble dryer fluff. Or if it is raining when you are trying to start a fire a bit of old inner tube from a bike tyre burns well even when wet.

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I watched a survival show last night and he used birch bark, he said it worked well wet or dry because it contained a lot of oil. Of course you have to find a birch tree for the info to do you much good.

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I've heard good things about the blast match. We see so many match containers why not use matches or the good old BIC lighter? Or even a fresnal lens? NEVER rely on a ZIPPO because the fuel WILL evaporate, or leak out and make a mess of your pack. Now for tinder-gauze and other materials from a first aid kit. You're outdoors you should have hand sanitizer. Mix that with the gauze or cotton balls. Could also use vaseline. Use Hexamine tablets(fuel tabs for camp/survival stoves) If nothing you can burn them by themselves. I have tinder quick( see HERE) But have never used them or know anyone who has.

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I've heard good things about the blast match. We see so many match containers why not use matches or the good old BIC lighter? Or even a fresnal lens? NEVER rely on a ZIPPO because the fuel WILL evaporate, or leak out and make a mess of your pack. Now for tinder-gauze and other materials from a first aid kit. You're outdoors you should have hand sanitizer. Mix that with the gauze or cotton balls. Could also use vaseline. Use Hexamine tablets(fuel tabs for camp/survival stoves) If nothing you can burn them by themselves. I have tinder quick( see HERE) But have never used them or know anyone who has.

That TinderQuik claims to be lightable with flint/steel (they sell a device for that purpose) so it seems to fit on the requirements I have... that of not having matches etc. (not that I would of course).

 

As for limits on many sources of ignition... lighter fuel does tend to evaporate (why you check it and carry spare), Butane doesn't like to evaporate at all in really cold weather, these days strike anywhere matches seem not to strike anywhere very well, the hexamine / esbit type fuel pellets seem to be rare locally. I haven't found a local source yet, and I don't know if they will light from a spark either... but they do make useful fuel source initially. All this also fails the basic DIY criteria as well, but I'm not nit picking here... since it doesn't mention initial ignition sources and techniques either, so who is counting. It's all useful information.

 

After iginition takes place, BBark is good if you have it available as stated several times, and usually indicates the presence of Birch wood which also burns quite well for initial fuel loading to warm up bigger fuels.

 

Still trying to ignite some petroleum jelly, stuff I have seems to extinguish flames... cheap brand...

 

Doug 7rxc

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I've heard good things about the blast match. We see so many match containers why not use matches or the good old BIC lighter? Or even a fresnal lens? NEVER rely on a ZIPPO because the fuel WILL evaporate, or leak out and make a mess of your pack. Now for tinder-gauze and other materials from a first aid kit. You're outdoors you should have hand sanitizer. Mix that with the gauze or cotton balls. Could also use vaseline. Use Hexamine tablets(fuel tabs for camp/survival stoves) If nothing you can burn them by themselves. I have tinder quick( see HERE) But have never used them or know anyone who has.

That TinderQuik claims to be lightable with flint/steel (they sell a device for that purpose) so it seems to fit on the requirements I have... that of not having matches etc. (not that I would of course).

 

As for limits on many sources of ignition... lighter fuel does tend to evaporate (why you check it and carry spare), Butane doesn't like to evaporate at all in really cold weather, these days strike anywhere matches seem not to strike anywhere very well, the hexamine / esbit type fuel pellets seem to be rare locally. I haven't found a local source yet, and I don't know if they will light from a spark either... but they do make useful fuel source initially. All this also fails the basic DIY criteria as well, but I'm not nit picking here... since it doesn't mention initial ignition sources and techniques either, so who is counting. It's all useful information.

 

After iginition takes place, BBark is good if you have it available as stated several times, and usually indicates the presence of Birch wood which also burns quite well for initial fuel loading to warm up bigger fuels.

 

Still trying to ignite some petroleum jelly, stuff I have seems to extinguish flames... cheap brand...

 

Doug 7rxc

I don't think petroleum jelly really is petroleum or much of it these days.

 

Birch barn has always been the first item to search for when starting a fire in my area. If you can combined that with cedar bark, you should have a decent coal base by the time the birch has burned off. I've actually boiled water off birch and cedar bark before the fire was truely going (cold morning, and we wanted coffee asap).

I've also been in areas or situations where birch and cedar where impossible to locate. In one case, I had to rely on pine needles/dead ferns and drift wood shavings.

 

As for lighting... BIC (name brand) lighters all the way. I do always carry strike anywhere (with a striker) in a waterproof package, but normally have 2 BIC lighters handy.

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All this also fails the basic DIY criteria as well, but I'm not nit picking here... since it doesn't mention initial ignition sources and techniques either, so who is counting. It's all useful information.

 

After iginition takes place, BBark is good if you have it available as stated several times, and usually indicates the presence of Birch wood which also burns quite well for initial fuel loading to warm up bigger fuels.

 

Still trying to ignite some petroleum jelly, stuff I have seems to extinguish flames... cheap brand...

 

Doug 7rxc

You're right. I didn't see the part of the description that says "or in a jam in the field" In which case most of what I said wouldn't be of much use. It's worth mentioning to learn how to use a bow/drill to make fire. It's not reliable and take a lot of work but it could save your life one day.

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All this also fails the basic DIY criteria as well, but I'm not nit picking here... since it doesn't mention initial ignition sources and techniques either, so who is counting. It's all useful information.

 

After iginition takes place, BBark is good if you have it available as stated several times, and usually indicates the presence of Birch wood which also burns quite well for initial fuel loading to warm up bigger fuels.

 

Still trying to ignite some petroleum jelly, stuff I have seems to extinguish flames... cheap brand...

 

Doug 7rxc

You're right. I didn't see the part of the description that says "or in a jam in the field" In which case most of what I said wouldn't be of much use. It's worth mentioning to learn how to use a bow/drill to make fire. It's not reliable and take a lot of work but it could save your life one day.

I never tried or learned how to do this. I can't say I have ever personally witnessed anyone be successful with it either.

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9 volt battery and a ball of steel wool. Just make SURE you keep the battery in a separate pocket of your pack!

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9 volt battery and a ball of steel wool. Just make SURE you keep the battery in a separate pocket of your pack!

I don't no about yourself, but I don't normally carry steel wool in my pocket.

 

That being said, I don't think I carry anything that uses a 9V battery either. If I had steel wool... I could rig something up with the extra AA batteries I would have on me.

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In a pinch, a 15 minute fuse (road flare) will start even wet wood burning. They stinkwhile burning, but in an emergency, who cares?

 

I carried one for years, but never had a need to use one in an emergency, but would replace my "carry fuse" every year or two and, of course, properly dispose of the old one by starting a camp fire with it in a fire ring at base camp or on the beach. :D

 

These days, I carry strike anywhere matches, a lighter, and a magnesium and striker block (Harbor Freight, $1.99), and some charred linen in a tin mint box.

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Someone finally mentioned an endless match. A block of magnesium with a strip of flint along the side. About 2 x 1 x 1/2 inch. I am flabberghasted each time I watch Survivor, and they hack away at the flint trying to create a spark, when if they scraped off some magneesium shavings, they could almost set fire to water.

 

As for tinder, why not carry a simple household candle, and slice off a piece as needed. Good natural tinders over here are coconut husks, dry kangaroo poo, spinifex grass.

 

Another natural chemical reaction that starts a fire is mixing Glycerine and Condys chrystals.

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In a pinch, a 15 minute fuse (road flare) will start even wet wood burning. They stinkwhile burning, but in an emergency, who cares?

I use to carry a flare, until I 'used' it when the conditions were less than ideal. It worked not much more that a strong match. I thought I could throw it the bottom of a pile of semi-damp kindling and I would be set...the experience I had was; sure the flare lit, but it barely got the fire going by the end of 10 minutes and that was with me helping it along- it just didn't seem build enough heat (however stated in an earlier post I must have it backwards). I learned something that day, I thought it was a failsafe though I had never actually tested it. The prep is everything in any firemaking- espescially in an emergency situation. If I would have spent some time and made a proper tinder pile, sure the flare would have worked.

 

Just wanted to add my two cents and my experience that I had with a road flare.

 

But to get back towards topic, I too have had great luck with the cotton balls and a bit petrolium jelly...not as a firestarter, but tinder :laughing:

 

I normally carry two ways to start a fire on me when in the woods; a 'Light My Fire' firesteel with either drier lint or pj infused cotton balls together in one spot, and a bic lighter with some 'fatwood' sealed tegether in another.

Edited by Pontoffel Pock

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I use cotton balls soaked with petroleum jelly, or even better, cotton balls soaked with fire starter paste. You can fit a bunch in a film canister.

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I am surprised no one mentions char-cloth. I made some in my backyard using an empty quart sized paint container (bought it new from Home Depot) I punched a hole in the lid using a 10d nail. I cut up some old T-Shirts into 2 inch squares stuffed them inside the paint can sealed the lid and put in on a fire I built in my backyard firepit. I watch until the smoke stopped coming out of the chimney. After that the I took the can off the fire coals with tongs. popped the lid and inside was char cloth. I have a blast match and the char cloth lights right away using that. This video (thats not me) is a descent how to:

Next I am going to try to make a fire piston so that way I have multiple way to ignite the char cloth. The char cloth works well for me and I use it to start fire all the time.

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One thing I've found to work really well is to use Crisco shortening.

 

This video demonstrates it. But instead of folding it like a square, i shape the tissue, cotton ball, or cardboard into a cup shape and put a blob of crisco in the center of the cup, then light the tips of the napkin all around. This gives a very large burning area and lasts a very long time.

 

Or you can save your used tealight candle holder or tuna fish can. Line the inner side walls with napkin and over the top.. Then fill the center with crisco. Light it up and you'll have a big flame since the un-criscoed part of the napkin will act as a huge wick.

 

Edited by djklmnop

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Went out back after explaining to my other 2/3rds I needed some Crisco for an experiment...

Visions of Loretta Lynn idolizing the stuff, smeared some on a Bounty and lit that critter up.

It worked pretty good with a steady, hot heat !

I could see it'd be a unique back-up for car camping or backyard.

 

Thanks for the fun idea djklmnop !

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Be aware that candles and food products in your pack will give off a scent that can attract unwelcome nighttime visitors.

 

We usually remember to bag and hang our food (or use bear cans) but often forget the scented or food items we weren't going to eat.

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As a few others have mentioned - petroleum jelly and cotton balls. Use them all the time.

 

I am firm believer in a small fanny pack (or bigger) if a person is doing off trail / through the woods stuff. Geocaching equipment and a few basic survival items.

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Lots of great ideas. One of these days I'm going to try the drier lint idea. But I pride myself on natural tinders, and my all-time favorite is birch bark. No need to strip it from a living tree... birch bark is incredibly waterproof, and even the bark from a soggy, rotten tree lying on the ground will burn like gasoline at the least bit of provocation, and it will burn hot enough to get wet kindling dry enough to burn. I've never failed to start a fire when I can find some birch bark.

That was brought up on one of those Alaska shows, it was said that birch bark contains a lot of oil.

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A cotton ball and Vaseline work wonders. You can easily pack some cotton balls, small travel Vaseline and waterproof strike anywhere matches.

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