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#171717 - 04/20/09 07:39 PM Re: A defense of the Doan [Re: Roarmeister]
yelp Offline

Registered: 06/04/08
Posts: 172
Loc: Colorado
My only complaint with the the magnesium block is the bulk. I ran one through a tile saw leaving just a few mm of magnesium next to the ferro rod and started carrying it much more often, leading me to use it much more often.

Magnesium shavings, in and of themselves, leave quite a bit to be desired as tinder...they do blow away and burn very quickly. Where they really stand out is when they're added to other tinder. And, as somebody has posted before, one can always scrape magnesium shavings / filings on to the sticky side of a piece of duct tape.

If somebody is going to cut down a magnesium block with a water-cooled saw, do so very slowly. You don't want the magnesium to heat up since burning magnesium and water is a death wish.
(posting this as someone that has unintentionally done a bunch of stupid stuff in the past and will again...)

#171727 - 04/20/09 08:49 PM Re: A defense of the Doan [Re: yelp]
SwampDonkey Offline

Registered: 07/08/07
Posts: 1268
Loc: Northeastern Ontario, Canada
Hey Yelp,

I did the same thing as you and cut a Mag block down to a smaller size with a hacksaw. I then held the shortened magnesium block on my knee and filed the edges smooth, this left a very small pile of magnesium on the top of my pants.

"I wonder if that would light if I struck a spark", D@mn that stuff is hot! I burnt a hole through a good pair of pants and got a 1/2 inch blister on my skin. Not the stupidest thing I have ever done, but getting there.


Edited by SwampDonkey (04/21/09 12:19 AM)
Edit Reason: Spellling, as usual.

#171739 - 04/20/09 10:43 PM Re: A defense of the Doan [Re: dougwalkabout]
ironraven Offline
Cranky Geek
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 09/08/05
Posts: 4642
Loc: Vermont
According to the anecdotal data, the Doan uses a better glue on the ferro rod. Based on my own observation, I would say that they aren't quite the same chemically- the oxidation layer is thicker and a lighter grey on the Coghlans, and it seems to be a little softer.

When a man dare not speak without malice for fear of giving insult, that is when truth starts to die. Truth is the truest freedom.

#171780 - 04/21/09 04:05 PM Re: A defense of the Doan [Re: ironraven]
sodak Offline

Registered: 03/20/05
Posts: 410
Lately I've been making small self contained starters consisting of one PJCB sealed in a piece of duct tape. Sometimes it takes 2 pieces in a cross to cover a large PJCB. When you need it, you cut an X in it, and pull out (and fluff) the cotton ball. If you sprinkled a little mag on it before lighting.... Hmmm... I could do the same thing before closing up the duct tape. Something else to try!

#171782 - 04/21/09 05:13 PM Re: A defense of the Doan [Re: erehwon]
raptor Offline

Registered: 04/05/08
Posts: 288
Loc: Europe
I find my Coghaln&#8217;s mag. block to be a good choice. Not ideal, but very good. I would say its valuable advantage is that you donīt carry tinder and rod separately.

Another advantage is that once the spark hits the magnesium shavings you get a flame. This becomes important during freezing temperatures. Last year in winter it took me suprisingly long to light very fine pieces of birch bark using Strike Force because the tinder was very cold. I believe If I had used a bit of magnesium shavings I could have had a fire in no time. Magnesium just reacts immediatelly.

When it comes to long burning tinder, magnesium (from the Coghlan&#8217;s block) is not good at all but like I said it is an excellent accelerator and I use it as that (ferrocerium rod -> spark -> magnesium shavings as accelerator -> tinder -> kindling -> gathered wood (even wet).

The wind can be a problem. The cotton balls, Tinder-Quik etc. can be pierced with a piece of twig and pinned down to the ground and so on. So I agree that in windy conditions you could be better off with something different than mag. shavings but itīs doable.

In winter I would take Strike Force as my nr. 1 firestarter (it has quite long burning tinder cube inside) though. Sometimes you donīt have time for scraping magnesium and making sure it wonīt blow away (for example when you fall through the ice and need fire immediately).

Originally Posted By: erehwesle
The true story is I was up on Lions Head Mt. Washington &#8230; I must have spent 20 minutes shaving magnesium into a coffee filter (see no wind problem!) to light up what wood we had (scraped up chopsticks and flotsam for tinder) and I'm convinced it saved our .

Good story, thanks for sharing it. Itīs good to hear that having the mag. block saved the day. However I think if you had had for example Strike Force with you, its tinder cube inside the handle would have solved the problem in less than one minute smile. Thatīs why I like it so much. It pays to carry one at least in the backpack. I reccomend checking it out. Or check out their tinder (named WetFire) - you could carry at least the tinder cube in addition to mag. block. Like I said for me the mag. is mainly an accelerator rather than regular tinder. But itīs just my personal preference.

#171786 - 04/21/09 06:26 PM Re: A defense of the Doan [Re: raptor]
Tom_L Offline

Registered: 03/19/07
Posts: 690
Magnesium fire starters are just fine but you have to understand the magnesium is really no substitute for proper tinder. All it does is make sure the tinder ignites reliably (even if it's slightly wet and not prepared perfectly).

Yes, the shavings have to be sheltered from the wind, just like any other tinder. If you need something more convenient, get a Zippo or a windproof butane lighter. I carry the magnesium block only for backup and in that regard, it's every bit as good and probably better than a plain ferro rod.

#171834 - 04/22/09 10:25 PM Re: A defense of the Doan [Re: Tom_L]
ironraven Offline
Cranky Geek
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 09/08/05
Posts: 4642
Loc: Vermont
Originally Posted By: Tom_L
magnesium is really no substitute for proper tinder.

And I think that is what a lot of the "mag blocks are poo" camp misses. Nothing that short lived is tinder, just an ignition source. Maybe a secondary ignition source, but still.


When a man dare not speak without malice for fear of giving insult, that is when truth starts to die. Truth is the truest freedom.

#171856 - 04/23/09 03:54 AM Re: A defense of the Doan [Re: ironraven]
GregGates Offline

Registered: 10/05/08
Posts: 5
I like the Doan but what I do is pre-shave a ton of it and pack it into a watertight matches container. Inside the cap I put 2 tinder-tabs. Should I need to break out the magnesium it's likely cold or wet and in those situations I don't want to be fumbling around with shaving on the spot.

#171862 - 04/23/09 09:09 AM Re: A defense of the Doan [Re: Roarmeister]
scafool Offline

Registered: 12/18/08
Posts: 1534
Loc: Muskoka
I agree with Roarmeister almost totally, and when he says:

Originally Posted By: Roarmeister
it provides a convenient holder for the ferrocium rod and that's about it....

That is exactly what I like about the magnesium block too.
I have never actually had to depend on the magnesium shavings to get the fire going and have only bothered doing it to see how well it worked.
Whether that testifies to my superior skills as a woodsman I don't know.
I like bic lighters and candle stubs for fire lighting an awful lot too.
May set off to explore without any sense of direction or how to return.

#171882 - 04/23/09 02:24 PM Re: A defense of the Doan [Re: GregGates]
billvann Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 05/10/01
Posts: 780
Loc: NE Illinois, USA (42:19:08N 08...
A potential problem with pre-shaving the magnesium is that you are increasing the surface area that can oxidize (the white coating). If the container is seals and/or kept dry this will me minimized. But you may want to replenish periodically to make sure you have good shavings when you need them.

I considered pre-shaving onto Vaseline coated cotton balls. Has anyone done that?

BTW, it's not just an accelerant, magnesium burns super hot, much hotter than any other tinder you would carry. That's why it's effective in igniting your kindling. Magnesium ignites at
473 °C, 883 °F. and burns at 2200 °C, 4000 °F

Willie Vannerson
McHenry, IL

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