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#26519 - 04/05/04 04:32 PM Re: Fire-Starting Problem!!
MartinFocazio Offline


Registered: 01/21/03
Posts: 2170
Loc: Bucks County PA
My son and I routinely tromp out into the woods behind my house to have an "adventure". I bring the backpack that I keep that's sort of a hybrid Every Day Kit/Car Kit/Personal Survival Kit/Bugout Bag/Diaper Bag/Equipped Dad Bag.

In that bag, you'll find a wide range of devices that are useful for fire starting.

In the last "adventure" it was raining, it had been raining, and was going to keep raining for hours more. Still, as is our custom, I was going to build a small fire to warm up. We always get one going, in all weather, including heavy rain.

First, and most importantly, is a huge supply of decent tinder and kindling. You need much more than you think. Especially when it's wet out, you're going to need it just to get things going. Next, into the ever-popular plastic ziplock bag or a trash bag or something to keep the rain off, I shave dried sticks I found up high on trees and such with my knife, so they stay dry until ready to light.

Another key to success is a means of protecting your little fire as you get it going. We usually build a fire ring that's fairly deep out of some stones, if that's not an option, I've found that a small fire pit with a bit of a vent trench is a pretty reliable way to keep the small fire started. If it's really raining hard, I build a small lean-to style canopy (tiny, just a few sticks and some greens over the windward side of the fire to keep the bulk of the rain off, this really helps, and once the fire's really going, it burns off.
I also make sure that I'm patient. Sometimes I'll sit for 20 minutes feeding tiny strips of wood into a tiny fire that's just sputtering along until I get enough of a thermal mass to really light stuff bigger than a thin strip of wood. I've found that even with a Trioxane tab, you can't really build a decent fire that will last until you have a solid base of coals to heat and ignite things.

Finally, I always surround my fire with more firewood to dry it out some. This is expecially important in a smaller fire, since you will need a fairly steady supply of small wood to keep it going.

#26520 - 04/05/04 05:40 PM Re: Fire-Starting Problem!!
X-ray Dave Offline

Registered: 11/11/03
Posts: 572
Loc: Nevada
A small candle can be used to dry out the tinder or supply a flame long enough for it catch.

#26521 - 04/05/04 07:18 PM Re: Fire-Starting Problem!!

Ahh, the Solo Storm. Worst lighter I ever tried. I bought one before a backpacking trip based on positive comments on the site. Ouch. Maybe I got a bad batch, maybe they've gone downhill? I couldn't get the damn thing to light, in my house, the first night. I finally get back to the store to return it, and I get a new one. Mind you these are in a locked cabinet that none of the employees at this newish store seem to know how to open, they finally disassembled the case for me and got one out--vowing to never use that case again. <img src="images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

Anyhow, once bitten, twice shy. I get as far as my truck in the parking lot before I try again. This one hardly sparks at all, and the gas valve won't close without fiddling to pull it back up! Yeah, that's safe. I was livid when I took it back, I ended up apologizing profusely to the poor clerk for being in such a bad, loud mood over it since it wasn't really her fault.

So, for $25, I found an Eddie Bauer-branded Colibri at Target. It has a lanyard hole, a fuel level window, and is reasonably water-resistant. It always lights on the second try. Other than that, I bought a $10 "pocket butane torch" that works like a champ. Of course, I still carry a lot of backup.

The moral of the story is, try every piece of technology that you buy for a kit. You want to know it's crap before the store won't take it back, and certainly long before you need it. Just about everything is so cheaply made these days. Especially if it's sold < $50 it seems. Cheap BICs have much simpler technology than piezo ignition Solos and Colibris. Much harder for them to fail.

Oh, and one more plus for the cheap BIC: TSA won't let you on a commercial flight with a refillable lighter.

#26522 - 04/06/04 02:44 AM Re: Fire-Starting Problem!!

Perhaps a piece of clothing along those lines, T-Shirt, shorts, the pockets from your pants, anything that might be dry. One usually has something on them that is dry that they can do without.
Carrying a few alcohol swabs in your fire starting kit could help tremendously and more likely to catch fire easier than some of the other fire starters.
There is creativity in desperation..........sometimes.

Edited by Skater (04/06/04 02:45 AM)

#26523 - 04/06/04 01:27 PM Re: Fire-Starting Problem!!

As a health care worker, alcohol wipes are abundant. In my limited testing, they do light quickly, but burn out quickly, and generate little heat. I piled some magnesium shavings on a wipe, and lit it with my strike force. The wipe died long before the shavings ignited. Other wipes may burn longer, but I am not impressed.

#26524 - 04/06/04 03:12 PM Re: Fire-Starting Problem!!

Have always worked fine for me. When possible, I squeeze some of the alcohol out to help ignite other material such as impregnated cotton; I view them as longer burning matches, easily ignited. Not the end all, but has helped me when needed.

Edited by Skater (04/06/04 03:14 PM)

#26525 - 04/07/04 12:55 AM Re: Fire-Starting Problem!!
aardwolfe Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 08/22/01
Posts: 923
Loc: St. John's, Newfoundland
How many alcohol wipes do you use? Just the one, or do you use multiple packets?

What do you ignite them with? A ferrocerium rod or a match? (Not trying to be insulting, just trying to eliminate the obvious.)

I've tried alcohol wipes a couple of times and I wasn't too impressed either. I get them whenever I teach a First Aid course, we use them for cleaning the mannequins, but I don't know if I've ever managed to ignite one with a FeCe rod.
"The mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be kindled."

#26526 - 04/07/04 02:24 AM Re: Fire-Starting Problem!!

No problem.
I just used a match. I don't try and make it any more difficult than need be. As I said previously, I just consider it to be a longer burning match, used to ignite other combustables. I have only had to use them twice, but I used three each time (this was all I had in my FSK each time) all at once. Not my favorite way of starting a fire, but they did work in a pinch.
But by all means, go with what impresses you.

Edited by Skater (04/07/04 03:04 AM)

#26527 - 04/07/04 02:41 AM Re: Fire-Starting Problem!!

Just did a timed test.
One swab burned for about 50 seconds with what seemed to be close to a 4" flame. For the last 10+ seconds the flame decreased until it went out. Burning time at least 60 seconds.
Becton Dickinson #326895, expiration date of ? none shown.
Listed as Thicker, Softer.
Can't say this is what I used in the past, but they are what I have in my kit now.
I imagine with any excess alcohol squeezed out, the burn time would be less, might also decrease with age.
However, plenty of flame to ignite TP or other combustables to start a fire.
Someplace on this site I have a post about FSK in a Can Keeper, or something to that effect, with a modified version of a FSK.

Edited by Skater (04/07/04 02:48 AM)

#26528 - 04/07/04 04:59 AM Re: Fire-Starting Problem!!

I didn't time my experiment, but I'm pretty sure the burn time was no longer than 30 seconds or so. I will try again, and note the time, manufacturer, etc.

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