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#184271 - 10/04/09 10:56 PM Re: Fire starters which one is the best? [Re: Stu]
Basecamp Offline

Registered: 11/08/07
Posts: 107
Loc: PNW
Originally Posted By: Stu

No I mean the real metal Spark lite, not some copy of the idea.

Do you have a link or manufacturer?

#184273 - 10/04/09 11:14 PM Re: Fire starters which one is the best? [Re: fasteer]
scafool Offline

Registered: 12/18/08
Posts: 1534
Loc: Muskoka
Y'know Fasteer, I never had much luck with dryer lint either. I found shredded up grasses, or shredded cedar bark, birch bark and the linty stuff from cat tail heads to work good.
The key to all of them is they have to be really dry.
They have to be made really fine too. Think of the centre of a mouse nest in the middle of your tinder to catch the spark.

I usually wear out the spark rod on a Doan's magnesium block (coughlan's is the same thing with a different stamp on it) long before I have even made a serious dent in the magnesium.
The magnesium has to be very fine and in a pile is what I found. I tend to make the pile a bit flat, not a cone.

I also found out you are less likely to hit the tinder with the striker if you hold the striker upright and solid against the tinder and drag the sparker back towards you over it.

The best strikers I have found so far are broken hacksaw blades, fairly fine tooth, like 18 or 24 teeth per inch.
The strikers that come with the Swedish Firesteel sparker rods are pretty good too.

One thing I like having with me to light a fire is a wax candle.
If I have a lighter sometimes I light the candle first and use the candle to light the fire.

My hunting knife and my machete have areas on the spine (back) of the blades that have been given a square edge with a coarse file. It makes an effective scraper and saves the working edge from damage.
May set off to explore without any sense of direction or how to return.

#184277 - 10/04/09 11:54 PM Re: Fire starters which one is the best? [Re: scafool]
Desperado Offline

Registered: 11/01/08
Posts: 1530
Loc: DFW, Texas
Dryer lint needs to be full of German Shepherd Dog hair to work effectively. Then you have motivation to get the fire going to kill the burning hair smell.

Or at least that is how it works around my house....
I do the things that I must, and really regret, are unfortunately necessary.


#184939 - 10/11/09 10:28 PM Re: Fire starters which one is the best? [Re: Desperado]
fasteer Offline

Registered: 09/01/09
Posts: 63
Loc: away
I bought a bag of 100 cotton balls at the local drugstore for a buck. Wow, they ignite easily & go up fast & hot. Most of you knew that.

As I always have WD-40 onhand, I gave a few cotton balls a good shot of WD-40, then left them for a few hours to let the carrier evaporate.
They still ignite easily, but burn much longer.
A lot of them cram into a recycled pill-bottle.
What do you think of this?

#184947 - 10/12/09 12:11 AM Re: Fire starters which one is the best? [Re: fasteer]
NAro Offline

Registered: 03/15/01
Posts: 496
IMHO cotton balls with PJ are still your best bet because they have other uses besides just fire starting. I've used the PJ to protect windburned skin on a long hunting trip in cold high winds. Grubby, but it seemed to help. I've also used it to lube a cracking leather washer in a balky camp stove fuel tank pump. And, of course, to start fires.

#184949 - 10/12/09 12:14 AM Re: Fire starters which one is the best? [Re: fasteer]
Paul810 Offline

Registered: 03/02/03
Posts: 1428
Loc: NJ, USA
As far as tinder goes, I've always had very good luck with cotton balls mixed with Vaseline.

The trick, though, is not to use too much Vaseline. The purpose of the Vaseline is to make the cotton ball burn longer and possibly to increase its water resistance a little, too much Vaseline will inhibit the cotton ball's ability to catch a spark and pretty much just give you a useless gooey mess.

So how much is too much? It's tough to describe without showing/feeling in person. With that said, if the tinder, when you're done making it, can stick to the wall....it has way way too much. What you should have when you're done will look just like normal cotton, but slightly yellowed and only a tiny bit greasy to the touch/squeeze.

#184953 - 10/12/09 12:23 AM Re: Fire starters which one is the best? [Re: fasteer]
Am_Fear_Liath_Mor Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 08/03/07
Posts: 3078

Cotton balls soaked in Colemans White fuel gas stored in an old air tight sealed empty metal boot polish tin takes a spark quite well. So does rubber cement used for bicycle inner tube repairs.

#184954 - 10/12/09 12:39 AM Re: Fire starters which one is the best? [Re: fasteer]
UpstateTom Offline

Registered: 10/05/09
Posts: 165
Loc: Rens. County, NY
I recently went through a fire starting test, too. The normal fire starters I carry camping are waterproof matches and a lighter.

Here's what I found:

Dryer lint, if fluffed up, works with a spark-lite or the flint on a mag block, but it's tough to do. My clothes are almost all cotton, which probably makes the lint light easier than other types.

Magnesium shavings, by themselves, are easy to light but burn too quickly. A combination of magnesium shavings in lint works much better than either one separately. (I'm sure a big enough pile of shavings would burn just about anything. I'll have to experiment more with that.)

As finely as I could shave wood (pine), I could not get it to light with a spark. Same goes for a pile of shavings from the router, which surprised me because they are very fine.

I could not get cotton twine to light from a spark. However, cotton twine with just a drop or two of alcohol or kerosene catches easily from a spark and burns great.

The tinder tabs packaged with the spark-lite work great. Mine are several years old. I opened one up, tore it in half, fluffed it up, and it caught and burned great. These things are a very good value, IMO, and I'll be buying more to stuff into various kits.

One last thing I tried was an alcohol based hand wipe. This caught easily and burned well, but the cloth itself did not burn after the alcohol burned off. I wouldn't depend on this as a carry item because the alcohol could be evaporated from the wipe before it's opened. (DR pointed that out years ago in a review I read.) Good to know that they catch easily, though, that could come in handy.

#184961 - 10/12/09 01:12 AM Re: Fire starters which one is the best? [Re: fasteer]
ironraven Offline
Cranky Geek
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 09/08/05
Posts: 4642
Loc: Vermont
If you EDC -40, give the cotton balls a hit just before use, and add sparks while they are still juicy. Watch your eyebrows. smile

Me, I always have Carmex. White PJ base, with menthol and soothing stuff in it. Or Neosporin, which is white PJ with low order antibiotics. I carry the cotton balls dry, add a dab when needed, and fire it up. Even if the cotton gets a little bit of rain, the PJ burns enough on it's own.

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.

#184967 - 10/12/09 02:13 AM Re: Fire starters which one is the best? [Re: ironraven]
UpstateTom Offline

Registered: 10/05/09
Posts: 165
Loc: Rens. County, NY
If you really want to wreck your eyebrows, try starting a fire with IMR 4064. Lousy fire starter (burns too fast) but it is entertaining.

Good tip on the carmex/neosporin.

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