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#86163 - 02/20/07 08:45 PM Re: The mess that is PJ and cotton balls [Re: OldBaldGuy]
obmeyer Offline

Registered: 05/01/06
Posts: 31
Loc: Fairfax County VA
Or pull out your Leatherman and pull a cotton ball out.

#86197 - 02/21/07 01:27 AM Re: The mess that is PJ and cotton balls [Re: PSM]
Old_Scout Offline

Registered: 11/03/06
Posts: 95
Loc: Delaware
Have used the "foil ravioli" trick - and it works great - with a twist. I use Bag Balm (BB) instead of PJ. It's mostly PJ but also antiseptic (used by dairy farmers for udder chafing - no kidding!). That gets multiple use out of the mess - always a goal in my kits. BB is great on scratches, itches, rough skin, chapped lips - you name it - and burns like a champ!
See 'Ya Down the Trail,
Mike McGrath

"Be Prepared" "For what?" "Why, any old thing!" B-P

#86200 - 02/21/07 01:37 AM Re: The mess that is PJ and cotton balls [Re: obmeyer]
OldBaldGuy Offline

Registered: 09/30/01
Posts: 5695
Loc: Former AFB in CA, recouping fr...
And get my Leatherman all greasy, are you insane?

That would be waayyyy to simple...

#86212 - 02/21/07 03:07 AM Re: The mess that is PJ and cotton balls [Re: OldBaldGuy]
Seeker890 Offline

Registered: 06/19/06
Posts: 93
Loc: Central Ohio
Really, that is good advice. A 35mm film canister is a fairly wide open top container. Why limit yourself on the amount of cotton you can carry? Pack it in. If you are so far gone that you cannot dig a piece of cotton out of that 1 1/2 inch diameter opening with a finger, stick, knife tip, leatherman pliers, etc, how do you expect to light a match or strike a hot spark rod? If you can create a spark, you can dig cotton out of a 1 1/2 inch hole. Worst case, you take your knife (it is sharp isn't it?) and split the container lengthwise. It is just thin plastic. Any leftover can go into a pocket. I have mine packed full and have never worried about it.
The Seeker

#86216 - 02/21/07 03:13 AM Re: The mess that is PJ and cotton balls [Re: kd7fqd]
OldBaldGuy Offline

Registered: 09/30/01
Posts: 5695
Loc: Former AFB in CA, recouping fr...
I tried that one time, and the balls were so saturated there were no "dry" fibers left, and the PJ soaked stuff didn't want to light all that easily. Must have done something wrong. Again...

#86227 - 02/21/07 05:02 AM Re: The mess that is PJ and cotton balls [Re: OldBaldGuy]
obmeyer Offline

Registered: 05/01/06
Posts: 31
Loc: Fairfax County VA

#86247 - 02/21/07 01:55 PM Re: The mess that is PJ and cotton balls [Re: Seeker890]
thseng Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 03/24/06
Posts: 900
Loc: NW NJ
I pack them in tight. It is easy to get one out by poking a twig in there and twisting it around a few times to snag the fibers. This allows you to light it and then move it under your kindling setup without ever touching it. Fire lollipop.
- Tom S.

"Never trust and engineer who doesn't carry a pocketknife."

#86250 - 02/21/07 03:49 PM Re: The mess that is PJ and cotton balls [Re: thseng]
Stretch Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 11/27/06
Posts: 707
Loc: Alamogordo, NM
What I do now is, since my hands are already messy, roll them up in strips of wax paper. I seal the end with a little hot glue but you could use tape or whatever. Then, when you need one, you never have to touch the cotton or vaseline. Just take one out, unsheath your favorite knife (probably a sharpened prybar smile )and hack or baton your way through that thin layer of wax paper to expose the cotton. Once it starts, the wax paper will burn right along with it. Try a couple saturated with parrafin oil if you have it...less messy and adequately effective.

#86258 - 02/21/07 05:08 PM Re: The mess that is PJ and cotton balls [Re: Malpaso]
Brome_McCreary Offline

Registered: 12/07/04
Posts: 17
Loc: Albany, Oregon
I go about this a little differently.
I think I make a fare amount of this kind of firestarter as I build and maintain preparedness kits for all our fleet vehicles at work as well as some friends (excluding my personal and family use), so I have had of opportunity to practice and come up with methods that work better for me. I have found that I have better luck getting the PJ/cotton ball ignited in all conditions (and only with a spark from a dead lighter) if I don’t have it completely covered with PJ. For this reason I put the PJ in the center of the ball, so there is plenty of cotton to catch the spark and act as a wick to the PJ.

Cotton balls are actually not balls, but rolls of cotton. They are made the same way cotton candy “balls”are; basically by rolling up the fiber around a central core.
I un roll the “ball” so it looks like a strip of cotton fiber about 1 inch wide and maybe 6-8 inches long.
I then take a small dollop of PJ, roughly about ¼-3/8 inch in diameter or the equivalent, with a small spatula (I made mine from a ½” strip cut off of one of those faux credit cards I seem to get in the mail all the time) and spread it in the center of one end of the strip of cotton.
Then I simple roll it up and tuck it in a container of choice (film canister, PP bottle, mini zipper bag, etc).

Several years ago I revisited my very early days of fire starting and updated a technique I used to use.
When I was a child in southern Oregon I used to collect pine or fire pitch from scars and wrap Old Man Beard lichen around it. I would carry these wrapped in a piece of denim in my pocket (so the pitch wouldn’t get all over my pocket). This worked very well and I used this for many years.
Years later I read about cotton ball sand PJ and used them thereafter.
A couple of years ago I thought I would try my pitch again, but with cotton balls. It works great (plus I love the smell!). So I now stock most kits with a mixture of PJ balls and pitch balls.

I keep a large mason jar about ¾ full of pitch that I melt in a pot of boiling water. I collect the pitch I find when I am out and about. It is very sticky stuff, but once molten can be worked very much like PJ.

I have tried in the past a mixture or 10% paraffin and 90% PJ melted in a jar in an oven. I then dip the cotton balls in this, leaving a bout 1/3 or ¼ of the ball unsaturated. Once dried to room temp, they were more solid and the PJ didn’t get everywhere like it usually does. These burned well, much like a candle, but I still prefer my pitch balls.

I also like the Fuji film canisters. I find the tops seem to stay on better. I get them by the bag-full free from my local film developing center. I prefer the clearish ones, so I can quickly see how full they are. I also pack my balls in tight, and haven’t (yet?) had any problem retrieving them when I am cold. I have used a small twig to pry them out if need be, but I do think it is a good point to think about how this stuff will work when you may be cold and wet… I have also just squeezed the side of the film canister and they fall out on their own. I have also used the squeeze technique to remove the lid (as well as my teeth).

Anyway, just some other experiences on the subject.


PS: Love the new look of the Forum!!!
Do What You Love, Love What You Do

"...and my heart soars."

#86273 - 02/21/07 07:23 PM Re: The mess that is PJ and cotton balls [Re: Stretch]
Susan Offline

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 5163
Loc: W. WA
Stretch, you don't even have to bother opening your little waxed paper raviolis, just set them on fire. Waxed paper itself ignites beautifully.


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