Scouts. Campfires. Bacon. Need we say more?
It doesn't matter how good you are at building a campfire, it's often good to have a helping hand at the start.
Here's how I made some useful bacon firelighters.
Step 1: What You Need
OK, confession time, these firelighters are not actually made of bacon (though they could be - more on that later). They're actually based on a paper substrate.
All the materials you really need to make some useful fire-lighters is some paper and some wax (a chunk of candle is perfect). If you want to make your firelighters look like actual bacon, you'll need to print out an appropriate image. Google is your friend here, and led me to this bacon wallpaper (which I have also added to this step, just in case).
All you need to do is print it out.
Tool-wise, you will need a wax-safe surface, such as an old baking tray, and some way to melt the wax. You could use an oven on low heat, or a bowl over a saucepan of water. I used a foil tray that used to contain a pie, and my heat gun.
Step 2: Melt and Pour
I stood my foil tray on a piece of scrap timber , and then blasted away with the heat gun.
If you use this method, be very careful - most heat-guns blow air that is hotter than the ignition temperature of wax, and if you see "steam", that is actually vapourised wax, which is highly flammable. Take care, move the gun away from the wax occasionally, and avoid having ignition sources in your work-space.
Once the wax is melted, lay the printed sheet of bacon face-down in the tray, then pour on the wax.
You need as much of the paper soaked in wax as you can - pour widely, and tip the wax around before it cools. I used the heat gun to "chase" the molten wax around the paper.
Step 3: Peel and Cut
As soon as you have poured the wax, you can peel the paper out of the tray - even if the wax is molten as you peel, it will cool and set very quickly.
All you need to do now is cut the paper into strips. If you didn't add a bacon print, or are not so bothered about authenticity, just cut the whole sheet into strips. If you want the essential baconosityness to last, cut out the rashers around their edges - the trimmings can always be used when you're camping alone.
Step 4: That's It, You're Done!
All you need to do now is light it!
I mentioned earlier that your bacon firelighters could be made of real bacon.
These things work because there is another fuel soaked into the paper, and the paper acts as a wick. Wax is good because it burns reliably, doesn't go off and is waterproof.
You could use any easily-melted hydrocarbon, including cooking fats or bacon grease - just have your paper in its tray ready beside you as you fry your breakfast, then pour the hot grease over the paper.
The firelighters will work, but they will be smelly in your pack (an issue if you are hiking in areas with big-toothed wildlife), and could go off if you don't use them quickly.
Runner Up in the
Fire Challenge 2017