You need to be resonsible how and where you build your fires. Always build them safely or the result will
be a fire you can not contain.
Warm food is good for the morale
1. Butane Cigarette Lighter:OK, OK, not a revolutionary break-through, but it can't be beat and I never leave home
without one. I used to wrap a rubber band around the top of the lighter and underneath the gas valve button to keep it from
discharging in my pocket. Few things are more worthless than an empty lighter! All lighters now have an idiot proof safety
mechanism that requires adults to seek the assistance of a child to operate!
2. Flint and magnesium
This is a really cool product that has been on the market for a few years now and is an item that I always carry! Its
a 3" x 3/4" x 3/8" block of magnesium that has a flint rod molded into the side of the block. It also has a hole in it and
comes set up as a key-chain. I keep mace and a police whistle attached to mine in an outside pocket where its ready-to-hand.
To use, shave magnesium from one side (of course I don't need to tell you to carry a knife) and collect the shavings. Then
with the back of the knife blade, "shave" the flint so that the sparks ignite the magnesium shavings. Have your kindling handy!
This heat is intense! But it doesn't last long, so you've got to get right on it with that kindling. It helps if you pile
the shavings on something flammable
3. Something Flammable:
You can make your own all-weather (water-proof) fire starters at almost no cost. Cut the bottom
off of a cellulose egg carton. Do not use Styrofoam egg crates!! Whittle shavings into all the "egg pockets". Melt paraffin
or anything wax in a double boiler. Candles from second-hand stores work great for this. Pour the melted wax into the carton
until all the pockets are filled. Ensure that all the shavings get a good coating of wax. (its OK if the shavings stick out
so long as they soak up enough was to make them waterproof. Once the wax is cool and hard cut the pockets apart. You now have
twelve emergency fire starters. Place on something flammable so that any melted wax that seeps out while this is burning is
not wasted on the ground. Light one with the magnesium or a lighter then pile on the kindling. There is enough wax contained
here to keep this concoction burning for about three minutes. The shavings and cellulose sucks up the melting wax like a candle
with a really big wick. I carried the same one of these around with me on outings for two years before I needed it, but one
dark and stormy night ...
4. Waxed Paper:
That's right, waxed paper. You've got a roll of it in the back of one of your kitchen drawers where
it was left behind by cling wrap, Tupperware, rubber-maid, zip-lock bags and Aluminum Foil. (the capitalization denotes the
high regard with which outdoors-men should hold Aluminum Foil - don't leave civilization without some - but I digress!) Waxed
paper can be folded up so that it takes up no space. It can be refolded and used as a cup. There are other uses, but the point
here is fire. Fold a piece of this in half then fold back each "half" like making paper dolls. When half way stretched out,
a view of the end should look like the letter M or W. Lay the paper down so that the two "ridges" of the letter M form a valley.
Into this valley place your magnesium shavings and/or other kindling. Set this on fire and break out the vitals, Granny, Jethro's
got an appetite tonight!
5. Fire Paste:
This stuff is commercially available for about four dollars. It comes in a tube like toothpaste, but
smells like Johnson's Paste Wax. It probably tastes like it too, so don't brush your teeth in the dark! Smear Fire Paste on
a stick, roll the stick so that the paste is on the bottom, and light the paste. Next lay the stick on top of half of your
kindling. Then cover with the rest of your kindling. The kindling on the bottom will be ignited as the hot burning paste drips
off the stick. This stuff will make even damp wood dry out and burn.
6. Hexane , & misc. other commercial fire starters.
These are all functional, and some are better than others.
Compact collapsible "stoves" are available for use with the Hex and Triox Tablets. Unless you have a good supply of these
don't try to cook with them, use them to start a "real" fire. The stoves that are available for these are little more than
fixtures to keep the cup or pan off the tablet. One tablet will boil a cup of water, but won't heat a meal. Here's a better
idea: With a stick or knife gouge or cut a trench about an inch wide and about two inches longer than the diameter of the
base of your cup or pan. This will be a miniature fire pit. Light a tablet and place it in the center of the trench. Place
the item to be heated on top of the trench. By adjusting the size of the trench and moving the cup or pan, you control the
draft and thus the burn rate of the tablet. The main problem with the stoves provided for the tablets is that the tablet burns
out of control and typically flames shoot up well past the rim of the container being heated. This is a waste of the little
amount of fuel that you have. A tablet in a fire pit can burn two to three times longer than one on a "stove", and can heat
about twice as much water or food. In a pinch I have snuffed out a tablet in the trench and placed it in a plastic bag for
use a second time!
7. Wood stove:
If you really want a stove to provide your heat consider one by Sierra. My buddy got one. I berated
him soundly. I told him he was getting soft. He did have to go to a larger pack to haul it, but I must admit, if you're going
to wuss-out and go with a stove (stoves are required in areas that do not allow open campfires) this is the one to get. It
has a three speed blower powered by an AA battery. (the same size battery as your Mini-Mag - use that same battery size in
all the gear you buy) The air is forced through an ingenious baffle arrangement between the inner and outer walls of the burning
compartment. This preheats the air for the combustion allowing more of the volatile gasses to be ignited. I was going to build
one, but that baffle design has me stumped and my buddy knows better than to loan his to me. In any case, they're only about
$35.00 and do not require costly fuel or fuel bottles. Just build a fire inside using any of the above methods, allow heat
to build up for a moment or two then turn on the blower. Within minutes you'll have a stove that will boil water in four minutes
and will digest WET fuel without hesitation.
Fuel can be anything organic - twigs, sticks, pine cones, moss, leaves, paper, cardboard, cloth, etc. Use caution when
burning pine cones, this stove is capable of such intense heat that the pitch in the cones can explode from the heat before
the cone "burns down". Be ready for some snap, crackle, and pop!