Jun 10, 2008 at 8:30 am #1229467
Can any of you bushbuddy users (or woodcraft skills people) comment on how well the Light-my-fire firesteel Scout works compared to the much cheaper (& smaller) BSA Hotspark ? Any big difference with either one when trying to light natural tinders (dried grass, scraped bark, etc).
Related question: Does anyone have any tricks for scraping magnesium off the Doan / Coglans block-style fire starter – that don't involve using the file from the multi-tool I don't carry ? I tried shaving the magnesium off a Coglans one with my knife, and it took so long to get a small pile that I concluded that carrying cotton balls was the way to go even though it's 1 more thing to need to pack & keep track of, and they can run out…
Thanks.Jun 10, 2008 at 8:44 am #1437560
@dangLocale: Pacific Northwet
I don't have any experience with the bsa hotspark but have used all three of the firesteels (mini, scout, army model), and various other devices, and generally speaking, I'd say the smaller steels are OK for lighting prepared timber, like cotton balls, tindertabs, etc, but if you are trying to light natural tinder you've collected, the larger steels put out lots more sparks and make it much easier to light the tinder.Jun 10, 2008 at 9:30 am #1437573
@dgpostonLocale: Texas / Colorado
I have been using my Firesteel Scout as my main igniter for my cannister stove. Does the Mini do as good a job? If so, it would be worth the weight reduction, it seems.Jun 10, 2008 at 12:27 pm #1437609
The video in the link below has some nifty ideas on how to light a variety of tinders that would probably make using any type of firesteel successful. If I could get it to work with my firelight mini, anyone can! Of course, it would probably help if you don't have a spouse standing there welcoming you to the Cenozoic era when it finally works.Jun 10, 2008 at 2:33 pm #1437640
I have both. The Scout works much better. It throws more sparks, more distance… plus the Scout is a bit longer and more rigid, so you can get your hands away from tinder, gas, alcohol, etc a little faster. I've heard of people breaking their mini when striking it, but never a Scout.Jun 10, 2008 at 2:41 pm #1437644
Christopher – when you use your firesteel, do you pull the steel up along the striker, or do you do the traditional pushing the striker down on the steel? The main point of that video I referenced in my post above was to pull the steel up while holding the striker still. That technique seemed to cause less stress on the steel for me, but then I've only used the mini and have no experience with the scout.Jun 10, 2008 at 3:47 pm #1437658
@dgpostonLocale: Texas / Colorado
Yes, getting your hand away from that spurt of flames from your cannister is often tricky. (I've burned my hand at least once doing this). However, I've found the firesteel so reliable that I threw away matches and lighter and am just using the firesteel. I suppose I'll have to order the mini and see if I burn my hands. :)
Is anyone else using the firesteel (Scout or mini) to light their cannister stove?
I suppose if I went with the Snowpeak stove with Piezo ignition, I wouldn't the firesteel, eh? (I wonder which system is more efficient in terms of weight and versatility?)Jun 10, 2008 at 3:53 pm #1437661
Speaking from personal experience, the piezo lighter works most of the time. I've been glad for a backup, although it was matches and not the firesteel.Jun 10, 2008 at 4:10 pm #1437663
@mad777Locale: South Florida
Ah-hem, just an observation here that SOME of us find that we are "firesteel challenged." The guilty party shall remain nameless, but I will admit that my wife got a lot of entertainment value at my expense. :)
My advice is to buy your firesteel from REI so you have the option of taking it back!Jun 10, 2008 at 5:23 pm #1437670
@hootyhooLocale: East TN
I have the scout and have only been able to start a fire using cotton balls once. And it was not easy.I have also had a lot of trouble lighting cigars with it. It must be my technique. It works great on alcohol stoves and canister stoves. My backup lighter does all the fire and cigar lighting. But the good thing is that I only light one fire and one cigar a day so the lighter lasts a lot longer in conjunction with the firesteel.Jun 10, 2008 at 5:24 pm #1437671
It depends. If I'm aiming at a small point (tinder, sawdust, etc), I hold the striker still and move the firesteel. My aim is better that way.
If I'm lighting a stove, it's usually the firesteel that's still and I'm moving the striker to throw sparks.
Did he who shall remain nameless remove the coating before using it? He who shall remain nameless needs to rub off the outer black stuff to get down to the good stuff. It takes a few scrapes to get a new one to work. Also, the striker plate only works correctly in one direction. Make sure he who shall remain nameless doesn't have it reversed.
ChrisJun 10, 2008 at 6:10 pm #1437683
@dondoLocale: Colorado Rockies
>>Is anyone else using the firesteel (Scout or mini) to light their cannister stove?
David, I've been using the firesteel mini to light my canister stove. Like you, I've found the firesteel to be much more reliable than bic lighters or matches in all weather conditions. It's also more reliable that the piezo igniters I've used. I haven't used the Snowpeak but the piezo weight on another stove I have is 0.4 oz. My firesteel mini weighs 0.5 oz. and is, of course, multi-use.Jun 10, 2008 at 6:10 pm #1437684
@aroth87Locale: Missouri Ozarks
I hang my head in shame with the group who just can't use the Firesteel. I had the darndest time trying to get a cotton ball to light. I keep the Firesteel (Mini in my case), on a lanyard as an absolute last resort. I prefer my Mini Bic or some matches though. Maybe I just need more practice.
AdamJun 10, 2008 at 6:16 pm #1437685
"I suppose if I went with the Snowpeak stove with Piezo ignition, I wouldn't the firesteel, eh?"
Above 8000' piezos become more and more useless.
The decreasing air density acts more and more like an insulator than a conductor.
My Snowpeak piezo, at 7500', was almost reliable.
Above 9000' – forget it.Jun 10, 2008 at 6:21 pm #1437687
"I hang my head in shame with the group who just can't use the Firesteel. I had the darndest time trying to get a cotton ball to light."
I've had good success with the tinder provided by BPL. However, I learned to open and fray the tinder to create lots of single fibers across a larger area.
When initially learning I got a good flame the first time and was pretty proud, until I tried to replicate it. Nothing happened. Lots of spark. No flame. Cursing. No flame. New tinder, not charred, lots of fuzz – FLAME. Old tinder, lots of new fuzzing. FLAME.Jun 10, 2008 at 6:24 pm #1437689
@mad777Locale: South Florida
thanks for the encouragement. Maybe I'll give it another try, someday while I'm home with nothing else to do, perhaps during the NBA playoffs! If it works, then I will have set my couch on fire! Oops! :)Jun 10, 2008 at 6:45 pm #1437692
If cotton balls aren't handy, try dryer lint. Denim, cotton socks, etc.Jun 11, 2008 at 5:07 pm #1437877
Has anyone tried the BSA hotspark ? It's rod is about 1/2 the length as the LMF scout, and it's diameter is about midway between the Scout and Mini, but it's handle is like the longer one that is on the mini. The BSA one is comparatively inexpensive, so I might order a few for some scouts to use – but only if they work well enough to use on natural tinder.
Also, has anyone had sucess getting magnesium shavings off the bar-style firestarters without a file ? Does the Doan's magnesium shave any easier than Coglan's ?
ps: Firesteels are pretty easy once you get the paint off, and learn to scrape at the correct angle. They throw even more sparks once they are worn down about 1/3 of the way and have developed a flat spot. My kids press hard and move the striker while holding the flint bar in place. Even my 7 year old can light a cotton ball with the narrow 1/8" bar on the side of the Coglan's magnesium block. Using a knife blade is easier than the striker and throws more sparks, but dulls the knife pretty quickly. Caution: Dryer lint only works if it's mostly cotton (Test each batch before taking it on campouts).Jun 11, 2008 at 6:31 pm #1437896
@tkkncLocale: Desert Rat in the Southwest
I have used the BSA hotspark. I am able to get natural tinder to light. I can also get wet wax paper to light. Soak some wax paper in water for 5 or ten minutes, then shake off the water, the hit it with the sparker until it flames up.Jun 11, 2008 at 6:43 pm #1437902
How well does the BSA Hotspark throw in comparison to the Light-my-Fire Scout model firesteel ? ie: Throws 75% as many sparks, etc.
Thanks.Jun 12, 2008 at 7:25 pm #1438089
@tkkncLocale: Desert Rat in the Southwest
Here is a picture of the BSA and the Scout Sparker compared.
I just ran a test between the two and the amount of spark they throw is more dependant on the technique than the sparker.
If I got a good strike on either steel, the sparks were comparable. If the strike was poor, the sparks were not very strong. I prefer to use a knife blade. The knife blade does not work well as well on the scout steel as on the BSA steel. I use a twisting motion as I pull the sparker away from the tinder.
If you push the blades down the steel you just tend to hit your tinder putting out the sparks/flame. I carry the BSA sparker.Jun 12, 2008 at 10:03 pm #1438108
Before my BSA hotspark, I had an SOS firestarter (ferrocerium rod embedded in a block of pitchwood). It worked great, and I got addicted to it, practicing going from spark to flame for any reason at all, even before brushing my teeth in the morning (at home!). Finally grew out of that phase (well, sorta….).
The problem I encountered was that I started off using full strokes along the sparking rod, and this caused a little bit of a gouge to develop in the middle of the rod, eventually causing my striker to 'snag' before it got to the bottom of the rod where my tinder was, making my firestarting attempts a little more problematic. This wasn’t a flaw of the product, just in my initial technique in using it. So this bit of advice is – don't start your sparking strokes from the top of the sparking rod. Start pretty close to the bottom of the rod, and press down with a short, slow & firm stroke. The sparks will be plenty, it will limit your tendency to ‘smother’ your sparks/tinder, the sparks will land much more accurately on your tinder, and you won't ruin your firstarter’s rod by gouging it in the middle.
Also, I'd recommend replacing the striker included with most firestarters with a short bit of hacksaw blade. I never cared for the striker that the BSA Hotspark came with, and that tiny bit of chopped-off hacksaw blade I swapped it out with gives a better shower of sparks. I'd really avoid using a knife blade as a scraper (hacksaw blades are cheaper and lighter). You can also drill holes in your hacksaw blade if you're that desperate to save grams.
And of course, there’s the cost savings. I bought 4 of the BSA hotsparks for $10, so I’ve always got one with me.Jun 18, 2008 at 7:57 am #1438891
@andybaileyLocale: The Great Plains
Hey guys, I guess I don't know why you have had trouble lighting cotton balls with a firesteel? I have never had trouble lighting cotton balls with my firesteel! You guys do know that the firesteel comes coated with paint and that it won't throw decent sparks until that coating is scraped off, right?Jun 18, 2008 at 7:36 pm #1439008
@guffabbottLocale: Southeast U.S.
Having used firesteels of one type or other for many years, I humbly offer the following tips to those who feel “firesteel challenged” – It’s All in the Tinder:
– Whatever fibrous tinder you choose, make sure the end you are trying to ignite is frayed a bit so it can easily ignite – and add an accelerant (wax, Vaseline,etc.) if you can.
– The best method for using the firesteel is to hold the striker still and pull the firesteel back toward yourself. That way you won't knock your tinder across the ground.
– I concur with Jim Ford in his previous post — a piece of hacksaw blade is the best striker — lightweight and effective.
– The Tinder-Quik tabs (sold on this website) are excellent.
– Dryer lint works well, too. My patient bride collects it for me, and I add some beads of wax from a candle-making set and mix them together. That improves dryer lint performance immensely.
– Another very cheap and effective tinder (and my personal favorite) is using 1/4 ball of cotton with petrolatum jelly (Vaseline) worked in. I have a small Nalgene container (2 oz., I believe) that hold LOTS of the little Vaseline cotton balls.
– I tested another type of tinder about a week ago, and it worked great! Instead of Vaseline, I worked a small amount of Chapstick into 1/4 ball of cotton. It worked exactly like the Vaseline cotton balls. (This was good news for me, as I always have Burt’s Bees Lip Balm in my pocket).
– Although it is probably the heaviest (and most expensive) firesteel on the market, my absolute favorite is the BlastMatch made by Ultimate Survival. It is an integral unit designed to be used in one hand. It takes a bit of practice to ignite the tinder without knocking it around, but once you’ve got it down, it’s amazing. The Blast Match creates an enormous shower of concentrated sparks – far more than any other firesteel I have ever used.
– When all else fails, Wet Fire Tinder (also from Ultimate Survival) will light nearly anything. Just crumble a bit off of one corner, ignite the crumbs with your firesteel, and then use those flaming crumbs to ignite the cube of tinder.
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