Mar 23, 2012 at 9:48 am #1287695
I recently posted on my blog (http://cesarandthewoods.blogspot.se/) my last chapter breaking down my 3 season gear list, this time the focus on the little things and kits. One thing I elaborated on a bit was my firestarters, which I call wax rolls, and I make myself. They are my favorite method to start fires, and I often have campfires while I am out. Only weigh about 5g each and one of the most effective and practical firestarters I have used.
What firestarters do you bring with you/use? Or do you not take any? Either way, why or why not?Mar 23, 2012 at 10:39 am #1858225
@pugslieLocale: SLO County
Plain cotton balls for a basic firestarter. If needs require more burn time, I add either petroleum jelly, alcohol (denatured, HEET, or even rubbing), white gas, or even cooking oils.Mar 23, 2012 at 10:50 am #1858226
@dwambaughLocale: Pacific Northwest
My favorite quick and dirty is a chunk of Esbit with a dab of alcohol gel head cleaner. One spark and it's going.
My CYA combo is a spy capsule jammed full of Tinder Quick tabs and a firesteel.
I always carry a mini Bic, a firesteel with the spy capsule, and REI/UCO storm matches in a K&D match safe.Mar 23, 2012 at 10:50 am #1858227
@jrozesLocale: Pacific Wonderland
I usually just carry a small lighter and some cottonballs impregnated with petroleum jelly. Cheap, lightweight and functional. In addition to that, my emergency kit has a Spark-Lite and some Tinder Quick.
When weight isn't as much of a concern, I love using my GobSpark ferro rod. It throws a torrent of long-burning sparks and is easy to use with frozen hands.Mar 23, 2012 at 11:00 am #1858233
@socalpackerLocale: Southern California
Disposable lighter and cotton balls soaked in petroleum jelly.Mar 23, 2012 at 11:11 am #1858241
@valsharLocale: San Francisco Bay Area
Like everyone else here, cottonball with petroleum jelly, mini bic, and fire steel.
However, one thing that I find that can dramatically increase the burn time of my cottonball is to have a small square of aluminum foil, which I use to create a small fire bowl with a small opening at the top that I shape around the cottonball.
Few years back I tested this in my garage and I recalled getting something like either 4 or 6 minutes of burn time with a good 2" flame.
Very light weight and adds alot to the performance to help you in those "oh crap!" moments when you need a fire to save your butt from the cold.
-TonyMar 23, 2012 at 11:16 am #1858246
@davidinkenaiLocale: North Woods. Far North.
A folded sheet of wax paper. Then I use a little or a lot, loosy or tightly wrapped depending on the situation.
Or little squares (3 cm x 3 cm) squares of corrugated cardboard, dipped in wax. Leave a little corner undipped, and it will light a little quicker.
If you have kids around the house, repurpose the discarded crayon drawings – homemade waxpaper!
Or if you have trail instructions, permits, section maps, etc, that you won't need for the whole trip – multipurpose them by dipping them in wax or using crayons on the backside. It will be more waterproof AND make a good firestarter.Mar 23, 2012 at 11:22 am #1858250
Yeah, I used to use cotton ball soaked in p.jelly, but too gooey and messy. I should test how long my wax rolls burn for. I am pretty sure they are the cheapest firestarter. Esbit is perhaps the most effective, but at much higher price. I guess it depends how many campfires you make a year.
Oh, and I should have added that I always take both a pack of matches and a mini Bic. I used to take my LMF spark stick all the time, but got lazy and like matches best for being quick and easy, though spark sticks are the most reliable for starting a fire.
Tampons work well, though they burn up too fast, so you have to use a few of them. I guess if you are female, it makes them multi-use. I have heard that you can use them for first aid too, but seems like gauze would be more effective.Mar 23, 2012 at 12:03 pm #1858269
@davidinkenaiLocale: North Woods. Far North.
Have you tried writing in crayon on the shafts of a book of paper matches? They put out a little more heat that way and because they last longer, they don't singe your fingers quite so soon.
For first aid, tampons can be used in either nostril for nosebleeds or if there is bleeding from either of two, lower orifices. The pull strings are handy for gently removing them later, but make for some odd looks from passerbys.
They don't work as well as firestarters afterwards.Mar 23, 2012 at 12:55 pm #1858292
@cohikerLocale: San Isabel NF
A small-ish square of dryer lint impregnated with a melted tea light. (melted in the oven and poured on the lint)
This produces a long burn, but not a big flame. petroleum jelly I think has a higher BTU value, and makes a bigger (hotter?) flame, but is messy.Mar 23, 2012 at 1:05 pm #1858300
@redmonkLocale: Greater California Ecosystem
I carry dry cotton and smear a little chapstick on it when i need to start a fire.Mar 23, 2012 at 2:05 pm #1858333
…Mar 23, 2012 at 2:13 pm #1858339
@qiwizLocale: UL gear @ QiWiz.net
Unroll a cotton ball and cut in half. Put a pea-sized bit of petroleum jelly on one end of each half and roll back up into a half-sized cotton ball with PJ inside. Two fire starters from each cotton ball, not messy (since the vaseline is contained inside), and quite light. If your twigs are thicker than they should be, or damper than they should be, (and you are too lazy to find better twigs) just use two.Mar 23, 2012 at 2:16 pm #1858342
@b-g-2-2Locale: Silicon Valley
I do the same as Robert, but I use candle wax inside the cotton.
–B.G.–Mar 23, 2012 at 3:36 pm #1858379
I usually just pack a water proof container full of dryer lint. Then I pull out a wad about the size of a cotton ball, fluff it, and pile on small twigs, grass, pine needles, sage brush, or whatever I have available.Mar 23, 2012 at 9:08 pm #1858509
nuked pj cotton ballz … put the pj in the microwave till it liquifies, and then dip 2/3s the ball in there … itll burn for 5+ minMar 24, 2012 at 6:21 am #1858587
I went out into my backyard to test out one of my wax rolls, and it burned for 4:40, not bad for 5g. I am skeptical that cotton ball plus p. jelly burns for over 5 minutes. Anyone actually time it? And what is the weight of your average cotton ball w/p. jelly?Mar 24, 2012 at 9:56 am #1858643
@stingray4540Locale: South Bay
I'm assuming this is for starting wood fires? Do none of you have resinous trees where you hike?
Maybe I'm spoiled in California, but all I take is a mini bic. Pine needles and cones make great "fire starters", and if all else fails, a chunck of sap will get any fire going.Mar 24, 2012 at 10:41 am #1858658
The Diamond match company makes a fire starter called Strike-a-Fire. I break off 1" pieces from the long stick and wrap the pieces together in Glad Cling Wrap. Each piece weighs 5 grams. They light easily with a Bic, and they burn dependably for 5 minutes with a fairly robust flame.Mar 24, 2012 at 11:12 am #1858666
I like the tinder quick tabs a lot.Mar 24, 2012 at 11:18 am #1858669
Here in the southern Sierras and transverse ranges, in areas where fires are allowed, there are almost always dried pine or fir needles available to start a fire, even if there's been a bit of rain. I carry a couple of firestraws (cotton with petroleum jelly sealed in a piece of plastic straw) for back-up or emergency use. The sealed straw keeps the cotton dry even if submerged. I open it with a knife, or even teeth! Pull out a bit of cotton, fluff it, and it will light with a mini-Bic or spark. Burn time depends on how much petroleum jelly you've put in the straw.Mar 24, 2012 at 11:29 am #1858678
@kat_pLocale: Pacific Coast
A small piece of pitch ( resin) works great to start a fire. The drawback is how sticky it is and it can be hard to get off your hands or your knife. Trees affected with pitch canker have a large supply of it. Should you accidentally lean against one of these pines and get it on your hair (!!!), the best way to get it off, which works well on your hands too, is with mayonnaise.Mar 24, 2012 at 11:30 am #1858679
"I'm assuming this is for starting wood fires? Do none of you have resinous trees where you hike?"
Yes this is for starting wood fires, sorry, should have noted in the OP. Yes, I have plenty of resinous trees where I hike. But, I also have lots of rain, dew, mist, and water in general where I hike too. When it is dry out, and I have the time/energy, I won't use any brought firestarter, and just stick to birch bark and/or dried pine needles and such. On other occasions of either damp conditions or lack of time/energy, then having a firestarter is a nice alternative. I would say it's about a 50/50 ratio of using my wax rolls vs. just natural stuff.
I am into bushcraft too, so just to challenge myself, I have actually started a fire under difficult conditions. Once without any matches or lighter using a bow drill, which was fairly difficult, and took like 2 hours from start to finish–gathering and prepping all the materials, making the components, trial and error, etc. Last year in early April, after it has been raining for several days, including on the morning I set out, I started a fire using only my knife and a fire striker. Took over an hour, but I got the dang thing going. Feather sticks are big help.
Oh, and I looked on youtube for cotton ball with p. jelly burn times, and got mixed results. Mostly around 2 or 3 minutes, but I was surprised to find one that lasted for a little over 6 minutes. This has to mean that some people soak the cotton balls with more fuel. Makes me wonder how much fuel a cotton ball can absorb.
For cost, over all efficiency, and less mess I will stick to wax rolls.Mar 24, 2012 at 12:50 pm #1858706
@annapurnaMar 24, 2012 at 1:01 pm #1858710
@ Kat: "Should you accidentally lean against one of these pines and get it on your hair (!!!), the best way to get it off, which works well on your hands too, is with mayonnaise."
I like a little mustard in my mayo – it gives me blonde highlights! ;)
Actually, anyliquid or semi-liquid with a good bit of oil in it will get the pitch out. You can use Noxzema (seriously!), olive oil, gasoline (yikes!), etc. Something like gas or kerosene works very well, but introduces other problems, like flammability and stink. Noxzema actually works well, and leaves your skin soft and smooth!
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