There's nothing like that rush you get when firing up the grill Memorial Day weekend, starting up the ol' fireplace on a cold winters night or striking a match to clear the air of that god awful stench of last nights chimichanga. Fire is crucial to mans well being. I've designed this kit to be versatile, reliable and adaptable. Everything contained therein has its uses, strengths, weaknesses and "also good for"s. Please favorite, follow and don't forget to comment. Cheers
Disclaimer: "Fire bad. Tree pretty." If you practice any fire craft be sure that either you're a responsible adult or that you've got one in your corner. Unfortunately for the world, most things can burn. Safety first.
Step 1: Strike One, Strike Two, Strike Three! You're Lit?
Is there anything more dependable the the plain old common stick match...? Well yeah sure, there's gravity, magnetism and the somber realization that so long as George Lucas lives there will always be Star Wars sequels, prequels and just general tomfoolery. But that's besides the point.
The matches I've chosen for this kit are UCO "storm proof" matches. They're relatively readily available. You can purchase them at most sporting goods stores or stores that have a sporting goods or camping section. They've got an accelerant coating down about two thirds of the match so really they're more like mini flares. That being said they're the most expensive item you'll find in this kit.
I've also included some Coleman "waterproof" matches as well. You've got to be realistic with yourself, your tools and the world at large. The wind will blow. The rain will fall and Axe cop will chop your head off! (Don't understand the reference? Good, keep it that way, trust.) Bottomline, just because you have 80 matches doesn't mean that that'll equate to 80 fires. I expect about a 30% attrition rate, hence a lot of matches.
Sidebar; Yeah, I've splurged a little here. But in the beginning I started out with regular kitchen matches that came out of a ten pack from the dollar store. Use what you've got and upgrade as you go, or don't, whichever is going to work best for you and your life style.
Pro tip: You can take those regular kitchen matches and waterproof them yourself. Here's three ways I know how;
Coat them in Clear nail polish: next time you're enjoying yourself a manny-peddy show some love to your match heads. They may very well show ya some love back on some cold rainy night.
Dip them in turpentine. Why? I have no freaking idea but if memory serves that should do the trick. Only who in the hell has turpentine?
And last and lease in my estimation. Melted wax; I'm not a fan of this method because unless your using a double boiler or have some such contraption to heat up a lot of wax without having an ignition source exposed it's a freaking pain to waterproof a bunch at once and after they're waterproofed if you leave them somewhere warm enough to melt the wax you'll essentially have the survival equivalent of a melted heresy bar.
Step 2: Behind Every Great Fire There's a Great Tinder
Just as "every great journey begins with a single step," so too does every fire begin with a bit of something to burn. While the human torch wouldn't have difficulty getting something going in three feet of snow the rest of us could use a little edge when it comes to getting a fire going in less then ideal conditions
What I've chosen to pack are some cotton balls which though they're in a sealed bag I've gone one better and double bagged them just in case. I don't know where those balls have been!
Cotton balls alone go up pretty quick. But if you use a bit of that Vaseline from the medical kit. Voila! You've mini ball of fiery goodness. Don't go overboard with it though, just a little dab will do ya. These can also be used to make a make shift bandage, field expedient ear plugs or as the final stage in a last ditch "survival straw" water filter. You could also use them as nose plugs if your traipsing through some repugnant place, just might want to discard those two before mistakingly giving yourself booger-ear.
I'm not gonna lie. This idea I got while watching a rather painful YouTube video of a 10yr old displaying his survival kit. I'd totally give him credit if I could remember his YouTube handle. But alas I may have been drinking that night and so have only a vague recollection of the evening. This however I remember.
20ft of jute twine; Not only is this stuff flammable it's also reserve cordage! Hells to the yeah! You can also use it as a wick if you happen to have any oil on hand, epic.
I've also got a few of these little tinder quick tabs. Basically they're cotton balls treated with a waxen compound and bound by a bit of thread. Not too much besides starting fires that these might be good for but if you have any ideas please let me know. I keep them in the empty space in the Exo-tec candle.
Free-cycling alert! Dryer lint makes great tinder and its gotta be dealt with one way or the other.
Step 3: The Butcher, the Baker, the Candlestick Maker.
This here candle is probably what I'm most proud of. I debated purchasing it for a while. But then there it was all new and shiny and only $5.00 (shipped) and I knew I had to have it. I've since fallen even more deeply in like with this little guy. Let me explain why.
Firstly out of all the survival kits I've looked at, perused through and read about no one ever wants to discuss the elephant in the room. Know what it is? It's that in all likelihood, if you're reading this you live somewhere with power lines, sewers, neighbors and buildings! Is it possible to bug out to the wilds, sure. Is it plausible? Not for everybody and that's why I like this candle. Because of all the things it is, it's not a camp fire. You can burn it indoors with little worry as it's self contained. You can burn all three wicks for some extra light or even to boil a small cup of water (results may vary.) You can light one wick and use the constant flame to start a larger fire and when is all and said and done you can use the container to make char-cloth! Versatility yo.
A note on char-cloth: For those of you unfamiliar with the concept you take a natural plant based material (Think cotton, thank you Wikipedia) and essentially bake it until the off gassing stops. Typically done in a small tin with a hole just large enough to allow the material contained therein to off gas (I.e. Smoke) but not large enough to allow oxygen to get in thereby causing combustion. It's a delicate dance but this is how it was done back in the day and it's a skill that allows one fire to beget another by creating a material that's begging to be burnt. One small spark and that's all it takes. Of course you still need to know what to do from there. But now you know and knowing is half the battle!
I keep the tinder quick tabes in here and have pre drilled and sanded down a hole in the rim of the candle base to allow me to make char-cloth in "the field" should it ever prove necessary to do as such. It's a lot easier to make a small precise hole in metal when you've got a drill and electricity, think about it. Along the outside of the tin I've wrapped a little over a foot of electrical tape to ensure that it stays water tight and that if I leave it somewhere hot and the candle turns to soup the rest of my kit won't become modern art.
Step 4: 100% Guarantee or Your Money Back!
Those of you who might have noticed I haven't yet mentioned the lighters or the wet fire tinder cubes depicted in the kit and listed in my main instructable and there's a reason for that. I forgot...
Actually the reason I've saved them for last is because these are my plan cappa (that's plan C. for those of y'all who don't know.) I figure in everyday life I can be bothered with tinder and *squaw wood.
Knowledge alert! Did you know that there are multiple sizes of wood involved in making a proper fire?
Tinder; your base and the material easiest to light. Ah, a child is born.
Kindling: Small stuff, think pencil size. This is what you'll use to initially feed the beast.
*Squaw wood: So named for the native American women whom used to collect it. About fingers width and a bit bigger. You've got a right growing boy there (or girl, or transgendered individual. Who am I to judge the sex of your fire?)*
Fuel wood. Here's where you start thinking logs and marshmallows. Just do the world a favor and never let your new born leave the nest. Create a proper fire lay before lighting any fires and make sure that any coals left behind are stone cold sober... I mean out! Before leaving the area.
I now return you to our regularly scheduled programming...
Lighters and accelerates are for when I've just taken a bath down some white water of have come down with a raging case of dysentery, yikes!
When your hands are shaking and your body is numb, them's not the time to be fooling around with match boxes and ferro rods.
I keep these in my kit as my perceived method of "guaranteed" fire. I threw guaranteed in quotes because even Rambo would freeze to death in a blizzard if he had to wait for his lighter to dry. Nothing in life is fool proof, remember that.
No modds here to speak of really. I did secure the trigger mechanism of each lighter with a zip tie to ensure that there's no accidental discharge. Besides that, nodda. These fair pretty well as is, how is, where is. That's how they've ended up where they are, in my kit!
Freecycle tip; once the lighter runs out of fuel, don't toss it! You've still got a decent little flint and steel there and once that stops sparking you can carefully crush it (oxymoron much?) and use the plastic to make a rudimentary fish hook or a finger or toe splint. One of the greatest attributes of plastic is also one of its greatest evils, it lasts forever! Use it up till ya cant use it no more.
Step 5: Sorry Son You Didn't Make the Cut...
Here I'd just like to take a second and tell you a bit about the items that didn't do it for me. Not that they wouldn't start a fire. I just chose to go another way.
Signal flares: Talk about your guaranteed fire these little puppies light up like the forth and stay lit come hell or high water. But... They're heavy, they're bulky and they're a one shot deal. I know, I know so are matches, right? Wrong for the weight and space of two 5 minute flares i get two lighters and 80 matches. I like them odds. I kept the flares and relegated them to our car kit.
Strike anywhere matches: Aside from them being in-freaking-possible to find I don't see the point. I've got the matches in a box anyway, why not have the piece of mind knowing for certain that nothings going to go giving me the vapers? I know that the volatility is negligible and that people have been toting these matches in their pockets since they were called Lucifers. Still not my cup of tea.
Tea lights: Hey, wait a second, aren't these just ramped down versions of my exo-tac candle? Well, yes and no. Tea lights have their uses but I think they lend themselves better to bugging in then bugging out. They give off enough light to get around but not so much as to be truly useful(the wicks are generally too thin.) You can kinda-sorta cook with them if you get enough of them close together & you've got sufficient time to starve to death. They are self-contained so you can use them indoors with relative ease so there's that. My biggest problem with them is that they've got to lids! I designed this pack so it can be stored just about anywhere for pretty much forever and I don't want freaking tea light smegma all over my gear if they should happen to melt. Thank you very much.
Ferro rod: Or for those not yet down with the lingo a ferrocerium fire starter. Basically this is the cat's meow when it comes to having a long-term portable reliable fire starting method even our forefathers wouldn't snicker at. The problem? Finesse, you have to know how to use it. I own one, wrapped it with paracord and everything (possibly another instructable?) More importantly I've practiced with it, I know I can use it. But my fiancée, not so much. I designed this pack so that even if something happens to me someone else can take the reins with little or no training. Pretty cool huh?
Thanks for taking the time in reading all this drivel. Be sure to check out my full kit here: https://www.instructables.com/id/Desaster-Prepared...
I really appreciate it. Follow, favorite, comment! Cheers