Oct 18, 2007 at 4:30 pm #1225487Alan GarberMember
I can get the Firesteel to light my lint balls (better not use the firsteel near my bellybutton ) and the Tinder quick very easily.
What do people use that is around naturally in case all I have is the firesteel and I need to start a fire………
I do all my backpacking in New England and Eastern Canada……..
I practice starting my wood stove with it……
Finally do people use the firsteel to start alcohol stoves and Esbit?
ThanksOct 18, 2007 at 6:11 pm #1405973Michael DavisMember
@mad777Locale: South Florida
I just got back from a backpacking trip through the Whites in New England and used the Firesteel for the first time. Too bad there aren't any active volcanoes in the area because I wanted to throw the Firesteel into one!
I used a typical pepsi-can alcohol stove and sometimes it would light on a couple of tries and other times it refused. What really irked me was that out of frustation, I would hold the Firesteel closer and closer to the stove, hoping that a spark would flare it up but, I would simply end up knocking the stove over and spilling out the alcohol!
I will stick with my Bic and leave the Firesteel to those that are more coordinated than I.Oct 18, 2007 at 6:30 pm #1405976Dale WambaughBPL Member
@dwambaughLocale: Pacific Northwest
Don't try too hard! A slower stroke on the firesteel can work better than a fast one. I don't use the stock scraper, but the base of the blade on a Swiss Army knife instead. Any tool with a good right angle edge will work. A broken hacksaw blade section works very well. Also, getting through the coating on the firesteel makes a difference. One you get the combination of speed and scaper worked out, it will throw sparks like a furnace.Oct 18, 2007 at 6:34 pm #1405977Jason SmithBPL Member
I use the firesteel to light my alcohol stove all the time. After having used it a bit I can light it most of the time, first try. I have not used it middle of winter yet with cold alcohol so we will see how well it goes.
P.S My girlfriend hates it though, compared to a`bicOct 18, 2007 at 8:46 pm #1405984Robert CBPL Member
I always bring one of those magnesium/flint strikers and a film canister full of tinder on backpacking trips. In cold weather, I have no interest in bringing a lighter of any kind, and I don't like matches for a variety of reasons. The last backpacking trip I brought a lighter, I woke up cold in the morning, I wanted to get some warm food going so I tried the lighter to light my stove. From a combination of my fingers being very cold and the lighter fuel being cold, I couldn't get the dang thing to even light. I set a bit of tinder on a rock, struck a spark to it with my flint–it lit–I tossed the flaming tinder into my stove and poof! done deal (and remember the alcohol was as cold as the lighter fuel).
Tinder is a bit tricky because not a lot of natural materials will easily light with a spark. Some grasses make florets that are full of very fine hairs which will catch a spark, and cottonwood tree fruit is hairy enough to catch a spark, but these kinds of materials can't be relied upon when hiking (even if I actively try to look for them along the trail). I use cotton balls (from Walgreens or anywhere) that I've rubbed in vaseline, and I store them in a film canister. If you want to make some, make sure to pull the cotton out of its "ball" form to saturate most every fiber. You only need a tiny pinch of this material to start a fire, as the vaseline makes the cotton burn a pretty long time. Dryer lint is mostly cotton fiber, and will work equally well as the storebought cotton balls.
That said, I have heard that if you do a thorough job scraping the magnesium stuff onto, say, fine broken up grasses, which wouldn't ordinarily light with a spark, the magnesium will cause them to light. But, greasy cotton isn't very heavy to carry, and throwing a spark onto a magnesium shaving is kind of tricky in practice. So personally, I'll probably upgrade to a Firesteel, which is lighter in weight than the flint and magnesium striker.
In warm weather, if there's not a lot of wind, a bic lighter (if it has enough fuel) will probably perform better for just lighting a stove, but I'm completely convinced that a flint and some tinder is best for all around stove lighting in any condition and campfire lighting in any condition. A bic lighter is quite lightweight, and a flint plus a bit of tinder is heavier than just the lighter, but performance makes the difference for me and warrants that I carry the extra ounce so I don't get a headache from f****ing with a lighter for five minutes and tearing up my finger tips, or hypothermia from being unable to get a fire started with a cold or out-of-fuel lighter.Oct 19, 2007 at 5:39 am #1405998Jaiden .Member
I was car camping a few weeks ago and started a fire with a magnesium bar and flint to see how hard it was. I highly recommend that everyone give this a shot.
I found that I couldn't shave enough of the magnesium to make a "pile" but only more of a dusting. I could get the shavings to light, but they would burn so quickly that nothing around them got hot enough to light. I tried nice crumbly dry leaves, dry rotten wood and thin dry cardboard (from a beer bottle 6 pack) and none of it would light. If the magnesium caught, it would burn a hole through the tinder or just burn out in a millisecond.
Eventually, I grabbed a couple of sheets of toilet paper and put that so the flames would catch some of the leaves. In under a minute this was a conflagration after having spent the better part of an hour (and hundreds of strokes with my knife each one risking a slip and injury) It also dulled my knife horribly.
Morals of the story: Tinder is everything. Magnesium burns hot but very fast and will probably take more than an hour's practice to get right. The sparks are pretty easy, but it's good to practice this too. I will be very careful not to rely on magnesium alone and be sure my vaseline cotton balls are included on every trip. (be sure they're real cotton and not synthetic)Oct 19, 2007 at 7:21 am #1406003Damien TougasBPL Member
I can't remember where I saw this, but one way to light an alcohol stove with a firesteel is to use an intermediate item such as a small twig. Find a twig that is not too thick and a couple of inches long. Using a knife slice up the end of the twig a little (kind of like a feather) so that it will more easily soak up alcohol. Dip the feathered end of the twig in your alcohol. Hold the twig and the steel together such that the end of the steel is touching the feathered part. Strike your steel. The sparks from the steel should ignite the alcohol on the end of the twig and voila, you now have something that resembles a long match.
Just be careful that you don't overdo it with the alcohol and get it on your hands from the twig when lighting ;-)Oct 19, 2007 at 3:48 pm #1406057Jason KlassBPL Member
To answer your question about natural tinder, we have very dry moss here in Colorado that works very well (I don't know if you have it where you are). You might also be able to use dry grasses or leaves with the firesteel.Oct 19, 2007 at 5:03 pm #1406067Brian ULMember
@maynard76Locale: New England
We got a few things going on here.
First, to light your alcohol stove with the fire steel or to light anything for that matter-
you need to hold your "striker" in place and move the firesteel -away- that is hold it real close to what you are trying to throw a spark on and pull the firesteel backward away from your alcohol stove keeping the striker in place. A common mistake for newbies is to push the striker forward and keep the firesteel in place -wrong! as you can see you will just push or knock over what you are tring to light!
– magnesium sticks as one of my teachers said, is a great way to quickly dull your knife. If you want to use magnesium take a cheap knife and make a pile of shavings at home and carry the ready to use shavings with you- not the "stick"
– Natural tinder for firesteel, can be hard to find. First it should be clear that natural tinder will form a "coal" and NOT a flame! Yes you will create a flame using the "coal" but I know of nothing ( unless your darn lucky )that will burst into flames from a mere spark ( mabey if you can find cotton or cotton like plant material like milkweed – at the right time of year!).
-In the "boreal forest" which includes northern New England and Canada the Tinder fungus is the traditional natural tinder source. It grows on Birch trees, preferbly live birch trees. Also bone-dry punky (old n'rotted) wood crushed into fine powder. It is recomended that you harvest and prepare these things beforehand and carry them as it is a real pain to go searching for them when you really need them. There are other natural tinders of coarse but these are the 2 most common and well known.Oct 21, 2007 at 2:13 pm #1406177Scott RidgewayMember
The spine of a Swiss Army Knife saw blade makes a great striker. Using the cutting edge of a knife blade is a sure way to ruin a knife.
You can use a sharp knife blade to scrape up fresh lint from your pant legs if you happen to be wearing cotton jeans…which you shouldn't be. I'm not sure if it will work with synthetics. If you can carry the fire steel, though, you can carry enough suitable tinder.Oct 21, 2007 at 9:57 pm #1406236Paul TreeMember
isn't this a case for petroleum-jelly soaked steel wool or something? A pile of mint flavored waxed dental floss? Hair?Oct 22, 2007 at 11:33 am #1406279Terry GBPL Member
@delvxeLocale: Pacific Northwest
Thanks for the tips! Holding the striker still makes perfect sense. I was also about to toss my firesteel in Michael's Volcano, but you may have bought it a reprieve.
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