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#189267 - 11/26/09 11:24 PM Fire Starting Kit and Methods
TomSwango Offline
Journeyman

Registered: 10/26/02
Posts: 67
From reviewing numerous "fire starting" kit on the various bushcraft forums, it appears that most of them contain an assortment of different tinder items such as, tinder quick tabs, cotton balls, strips of rubber, pieces of fat wood, esbit tabs, char cloth, etc. While I understand why one may want to have more than one way to get a spark such as a spark light, bic lighter, or flint and steel, I do not understand why one would need the various types of tinder.

Specifically, what does a char cloth, rubber, esbit tabs etc. do that tinder quick or cotton balls do not? Isn't there one or two items that would work 100% of the time under all conditions and if so what should it be.

Am I missing something or are all of the different tinders just more toys to play with?




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#189280 - 11/27/09 02:25 AM Re: Fire Starting Kit and Methods [Re: TomSwango]
dweste Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 02/16/08
Posts: 2463
Loc: Central California
A worthwhile question. Ask what each type of fire starter / tinder can do other than start fire. Ask what unique fire-starting characteristics of each type are. Then decide for yourself what mix, if any, makes sense in your situation.

Play with every kind you can get your hands on!

Edit: About once a year the Sacramento Tracker Group gets together with every kind of spark and fire starter and every knid of tinder we can get our hands on to play / experiment. Maybe you can get some friends together to do the same [or join us if you are in the area].

Get real world introductions to what all this stuff looks like, how it acts and works. Form your own information base and make informed decisions based on direct personal experience.


Edited by dweste (11/27/09 03:12 AM)

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#189281 - 11/27/09 02:27 AM Re: Fire Starting Kit and Methods [Re: TomSwango]
hikermor Offline
Geezer in Chief
Geezer

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 7144
Loc: southern Cal
One that has never failed me is Boy Scout Firestarter - white gas. But be sure not to use too much.

If you are in a situation where you can't gather good tinder or such tinder is soaked from rain, it is a good idea to have a stock laid by to get your fire ignited. As you can see, there are many different kinds. Next to BSF, I have always liked Utah Juniper bark. It is certainly worthwhile knowing about some that are not real obvious, like rubber and steel wool, just two of the many types with which I have no personal experience.
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#189286 - 11/27/09 03:00 AM Re: Fire Starting Kit and Methods [Re: TomSwango]
raptor Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 04/05/08
Posts: 284
Loc: Europe
I think there is no absolutely perfect tinder. Some tinder catches spark easily but doesn´t burn for a long time or is not so waterproof, some can deteoriate but is otherwise great, some cannot be stored near food, ...
It pays to carry several kinds of tinder. Even if you practice making a fire a lot and test your tinder you still never really know what could go wrong (e.g. some waterproof tinder turns out not to be so waterproof or your tinder deteoriates). Backups and variety is the name of the game. At least for me.

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#189291 - 11/27/09 03:31 AM Re: Fire Starting Kit and Methods [Re: raptor]
fasteer Offline
Journeyman

Registered: 09/01/09
Posts: 63
Loc: away
For us off-road motorcyclists; a gasoline soaked rag almost always works.
I also like cotton balls sprayed with WD-40.
Agree with raptor, redundancy is good.

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#189299 - 11/27/09 11:43 AM Re: Fire Starting Kit and Methods [Re: TomSwango]
kevingg Offline
Addict

Registered: 10/21/05
Posts: 442
Loc: NH
char cloth will catch a weak spark from say a traditional flint and steel or a flint spark off the back of a carbon knife - none of the others will


esbit/tinderquick and cottonballs (with petroleum jelly) will so similar things but have different burn times allowing the use to select based on conditions (wet and rainy and need fire fast then use the firestarter w/ longest burn time)

rubber I assume is for generating black smoke for signalling

tinder quick will have a short burn time, esbit will burn over 10 minutes very intensely and can start fire under worst conditions w/ minimal preparation

other tinders: jute twine and un-used tampon (the cotton torpedo inside)

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#189304 - 11/27/09 01:28 PM Re: Fire Starting Kit and Methods [Re: kevingg]
JBMat Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 03/03/09
Posts: 745
Loc: NC
I use rubber, either rubber bands or a piece of inner tube, to create a longer lasting flame to dry slightly wet tinder/kindling. You really can't light it without a lighter, but once it catches stand back. If it is placed in the center of a pile of twigs, it dries the twigs above with heat while the twigs below catch the "drippings" and eventually also catch on fire.

I always carry cotton balls/petroleum jelly in a film canister.

And the trick birthday candles, the kind that can't be blown out, are a good one time use firestarter also.


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#189323 - 11/27/09 07:58 PM Re: Fire Starting Kit and Methods [Re: TomSwango]
Leigh_Ratcliffe Offline
Veteran

Registered: 03/31/06
Posts: 1355
Loc: United Kingdom.
Firelighting kits have to do two things:
1) Supply a flame. This is where cotton wool balls, tinder-Quick and maya wood come in to their own. They catch easy from a spark or flame but burn quickly.

2) Provide tinder. Esbit cubes, ranger bands etc fall into this category.
Most neophyte students of survival can be pardoned for thinking that there will always be tinder and kindling availible for a classic fire lay. Unfortunatly real life is not that convenient.

A good analogy is that the fire lighting kit is a toolbox. With different tools for each part of the job.


Edited by Leigh_Ratcliffe (11/27/09 08:03 PM)
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#189325 - 11/27/09 08:15 PM Re: Fire Starting Kit and Methods [Re: TomSwango]
ironraven Offline
Cranky Geek
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 09/08/05
Posts: 4642
Loc: Vermont
*keeping a straight face* There are no toys in our survival and camping gear. This is all real world, serious, life saving material.

*grins* A lot of is there are toys in the box. But there are reasons for the difference. If I've got a flame, but everything is the box is wet for some reason, birch bark. Steel wool under those circumstances will catch a spark, and heat enough for char cloth to dry and catch if it is only a little damp. If the char cloth is dry, it will take a spark on it's own, and it will prime things like cotton balls, which in turn are enhanced with some pj. Magnesium flake burns freaky hot but also freaky fast- use that with found tinder that isn't quite dry enough to take a spark.

If I need something to fill the gap between tinder and kindling, then esbits, triox, candles and big blobs of pj come into play. I can also use any of these to warm water over. Rubber burns and burns very well, but not as hot as some of the others, so you combine it with less than optimal tinder to get your kindling lit.

Just like a tackle box, a lot of what is there is just because it is cool, but when you need that one right lure or fly, you need it. Just like when you need that one right fire starter.

Of course, the easy way is a bundle of three highway flares or a thermite grenade. With those, you can get anything burning.
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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.

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#189330 - 11/27/09 08:59 PM Re: Fire Starting Kit and Methods [Re: Leigh_Ratcliffe]
Leigh_Ratcliffe Offline
Veteran

Registered: 03/31/06
Posts: 1355
Loc: United Kingdom.
Originally Posted By: Leigh_Ratcliffe
Firelighting kits have to do two things:
1) Supply a flame. This is where cotton wool balls, tinder-Quick and maya wood come in to their own. They catch easy from a spark or flame but burn quickly.

2) Provide tinder. Esbit cubes, ranger bands etc fall into this category.
Most neophyte students of survival can be pardoned for thinking that there will always be tinder and kindling availible for a classic fire lay. Unfortunatly real life is not that convenient.

A good analogy is that the fire lighting kit is a toolbox. With different tools for each part of the job.


Addendum to my last: If you want a thorough understanding of why you should always have a decent fire lighting kit on you just watch any episode of Survivorman.
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