Feb 12, 2014 at 6:01 am #1313209
@ryanLocale: Northern Rockies
Companion forum thread to:Feb 12, 2014 at 7:18 am #2072576
You could use wax, like parafin, and do the same thing, less messy when cold.Feb 12, 2014 at 7:29 am #2072581
…Feb 12, 2014 at 7:55 am #2072591
On a Survivorman forum, Les suggested using duck tape as a fire starter. Double use. Great idea.
-=Dan=-Feb 12, 2014 at 7:56 am #2072594
@sparticusLocale: Atlantic Canada
I find cotton pads work even better (the kind used to remove makeup). If you grab the edge, you can put them apart. You then apply the Vaseline to exposed inside and then push them back together. Fluff the surface before lighting and the take a spark very easily. The advantage of the cotton pad / Vaseline “Wagon Wheel” is that they make much less of a mess as compared with normal cotton balls soaked in Vaseline.Feb 12, 2014 at 8:42 am #2072605
NM.Feb 12, 2014 at 9:29 am #2072618
Wow. Really? Vaseline cotton balls? What's the next article going to be? Wrapping our Nalgene bottles with Duct Tape or Dutch oven cooking on thru-hikes? Somebody phoned this one in….Feb 12, 2014 at 9:35 am #2072622
@sharaldsLocale: Gallatin Range
Yeah, I agree, Craig. That whole putting things into a backpack and going for a hike in the woods idea is just so stale and old yet BPL writes articles about it every week and people post in the forums about it everyday. When are they going to come up with something new? *wink wink* *har har*
Yes, the Vaseline soaked cotton ball is an age old technique but it's one that has saved my freezing cold and wet tuchus many, many times when I've needed to light a fire with frozen and hardly-working fingers. I'd say it's a lesson well worth teaching to those who may not know it and as a good reminder to those who may be rusty on the subject.Feb 12, 2014 at 9:40 am #2072626
Nice, thanks. And good video. Most of the boy scouts use dryer lint, but I'll show them your video and suggest they try this as well. (I keep Coghlan's Tinder in my kit; it's a cotton/wax product.)Feb 12, 2014 at 9:42 am #2072629
I agree that it's good advice for new hikers, but seriously…we paid to read this article? It should/could have been just a post, not an article. Nothing wrong with it, just that it's old news and not deserving of anything more than a blip once a year in the Philosophy & Technique or MYOG sections. Maybe I just expect too much.
Just my opinion.
MFeb 12, 2014 at 9:47 am #2072634
@justin_bakerLocale: Santa Rosa, CA
The best container I've found for vaseline cotton balls is a pill bottle or an old film canister. You can really shove them down into a hard sided container and fit a bunch of them.Feb 12, 2014 at 9:51 am #2072635
I take the vaseline-soaked balls and roll them in sawdust. I makes them less sticky to handle and gives them a little longer burn time.Feb 12, 2014 at 10:09 am #2072640
@dwambaughLocale: Pacific Northwest
I pack Tinder Quick tabs into an aluminum "spy capsule" and that goes on a lanyard with my firesteel.
+1 on a pill bottle or film can for PJCB's.
Other fire starting aids: Esbit fuel tabs and alcohol jel hand cleaner. A dab of hand cleaner takes the barest spark to light. The ultimate is a road flare or the shorter Orion fire starting flare— best for emergencies rather than regular use.Feb 12, 2014 at 10:21 am #2072645
@johnnyh88Locale: The SouthWest
Any experience on how these compare to Esbit tabs? Half an Esbit tab burns for several minutes and is what I have always used.Feb 12, 2014 at 10:33 am #2072650
– you can heat up the vaseline in the microwave … Its easier and safer
– dont soak the entire ball … Youll need to leave some fluff for it to catch a spark if yr using a firesteel
As to the "BPLness" of the article … a test of various fire starters under conditions with different ignition methods would be ideal
And reflect the scientific approach of BPL
;)Feb 12, 2014 at 10:43 am #2072655
does anyone but me roll theirs in magnesium filings ?Feb 12, 2014 at 11:44 am #2072665
"Any experience on how these compare to Esbit tabs? Half an Esbit tab burns for several minutes and is what I have always used."
I think they're fairly comparable. It's been over a year but the burn time for a p-ball for me was about nine minutes.
I once made the mistake of heating some water with a p-ball. Huge mistake and won't be doing that again. Took a lot of elbow grease to get the residue off of my ti pot.Feb 12, 2014 at 11:51 am #2072669
@b-g-2-2Locale: Silicon Valley
I make some small cotton balls, smaller than a dime, and soak them with candle wax. Then I wind a bit of dry cotton around the outside to make it easier to catch a spark.
–B.G.–Feb 12, 2014 at 11:55 am #2072670
I have used vaseline/cotton balls many times. Even if well soaked in vaseline they can easily light with a spark if teased out. A moderately soaked ball will burn for 3-4 minutes.
Does esbit light with a spark?? (I have enough trouble getting it going with a lighter!)Feb 12, 2014 at 11:56 am #2072671
@justin_bakerLocale: Santa Rosa, CA
Esbit works very good. I use PJ cotton balls as my everyday fire starter and use an esbit if I really need to get the fire going quickly in wet weather.Feb 12, 2014 at 12:00 pm #2072673
This might seem like lame article, yet stimulates more comments : )
Cotton ball doesn't have enough vaseline to get wet wood burning. Okay for drier wood or if you're good at fire building
Better to take one egg's worth of egg carton, fill with 0.25 ounce parafin, line outside with foil to contain melted parafin, put in oven at lowest temperature until it melts and soaks into egg carton, forms a little pool at bottom, let cool, take off aluminum foil. When you use it, tear off a little of the edge to expose fibers to make it easier to light.Feb 12, 2014 at 12:04 pm #2072676
Minutes of burn time isn't as important as number of BTUs (or Joules) of energy. That's what it takes to dry off wet wood and get it burning.
And, like stoves, it's BTUs/ounce that's important. Esbit or wood/cotton/paper or alcohol are half as efficient as vaseline/parafin/white gas/kerosene/…Feb 12, 2014 at 12:10 pm #2072678
@wandering_bobLocale: Oregon, USA
Esbit tablets require a continual flame to be applied for several seconds in order to light them. That means a match (can be hard to do in bad weather and/or high wind) or a BIC-type lighter.
I can not imagine someone being able to ignite one with just a spark. If you are depending on spark ignition in a survival situation, go with the cotton ball system.
Esbits will burn for 13 – 15 minutes each, but the heat output decreases as the tablet is consumed.Feb 12, 2014 at 12:10 pm #2072679
@valsharLocale: San Francisco Bay Area
Yes, this is "old" information, but I think that BPL should update older articles that covers the basics like this and to frequently recycle them for the benefit of new BPL members or novice backpackers.
From a business standpoint, it is a good idea to cater to novice backpackers and to traditional backpackers who are looking to transition to lightweight/UL Backpacking.
Having articles that mostly caters to very experienced backpackers might be a bad business model.
Not saying that BPL should ignore the core body of experienced members.
As A Lifetime Member, BPL really cannot make money from me anymore.
New members should be a focus.
Plus, there is a lot of older articles full of wisdom that could benefit from a dusting off and updating to be current with the times.
Off the top of my head, I think that articles should be 40% on the basics, 20% on intermediate skills, 30% on gear, and 10% on advanced skills.
30% on gear because let's face it….only so much new gear hits the market per year. This can easily translate to a 2-3 reviews on gear per month, if you figure 8 articles per month….2 per week.
10% on advanced skills because maybe we are talking SUL type skills?
Plus, recycling older articles does not have to mean less new stuff….we are seeing about two articles per week that are new. Why not simply add more articles each week by whipping out older articles covering the basics that will be immediately valuable to the novice and give them an incentive to join BPL?
Anyway, off topic, but I am glad to see an article like this.
My two cents to vaseline cotton balls: I carry a small square of aluminum foil which I use to create a bowl for the cotton ball to sit in. By narrowing the top of the bowl, I can restrict air flow and slow down the burn to give me a 5-6 minute burn with a 2 inch high flame or more. A very light weight way to increase burn time.
TonyFeb 12, 2014 at 12:22 pm #2072683
@servingkoLocale: Intermountain West
How many out there typically don't have fires on their trips? I can't remember the last time I had a fire on a backpacking trip…maybe in the mid 1970's.
I carry three forms of firestarting material as an emergency precaution but don't use it. I should take a look at my materials and make sure they are still good.
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