Monday, December 26, 2011

Fire Starters

It's one of those Ten Essentials things. The ability to start a fire. A life saving skill in the cold, and one that can be difficult in the worst of conditions - when everything's wet. So when I ran across Jermm's blog post "DIY Fire Starter Wafers," I had to give it a try.

Folks have been using wax-impregnated stuff as emergency firestarters for years. Lately a few vaseline-soaked cotton balls stored in a pill bottle is a common solution (tho it sounds like a potential mess). Alcohol-based hand sanitizers such as Purell can be brought to task, and there are all kinds of commercial firestarters available. What Jermm did was to saturate those flat, cotton cosmetic pads with molten candle wax. When dried, they harden into very packable flat discs.

I got a pack of cotton discs, and a box of paraffin from the grocery store, put a disposable foil baking pan on a burner set to the lowest setting and put a half a bar of paraffin in to melt. I placed each pad in the molten wax till it was soaked thru, and placed them on a piece of wax paper to dry. I got nine out of the half bar.

I figure that could be a lifetime supply. I mean how many emergency fires does one have to start in their life? I'm thinking I'll carry two on my hike.

Following Jermm's directions, I tore a disk to expose the cotton fibers, making it easier to light. In a fair breeze, it lit quickly and stayed lit. A stiff breeze just served to stoke the flame. Jermm clocked his burn time for a whole disc at 4.25 minutes.  I did no such analysis ...  They'll burn long enough to start a fire if you do a good job gathering kindling.

To satisfy my inner gram-weenie, I put em on my scale.  Each weighed 1/4 oz, and two in a snack-sized baggie came out to 5/8 oz.

 I am the god of hellfire! - Arthur Brown