Thursday, October 1, 2009

To Start A Fire

As the host of one popular TV series likes to say, "Fire is life." This is one time when Hollywood got it right. The difference between life and death in a survival situation is largely dependent on the ability to get a fire going and then sustain it.

This is a big topic, and we'll touch on it again and again as we go along. But right now I'll restrict my comments to the issue of choosing a reliable fire starter. I consider a reliable fire starter one that:
  • isn't going to run out of fuel 
  • isn't so delicate that it's going to break down under rough usage (very few or no moving parts)
  • is easy to use 
  • is effective at creating the conditions that lead to a successful fire
I have several fire starters that meet the above criteria. They are striker type devices that create hot sparks to ignite tinder. Of course, the secret to success is in the tinder. Fail there and fire will be impossible. We'll spend time on the subject of tinder during a later post. For now, here are my preferred "flint and steel" fire starters.

Left to right they are:
  • Toollogic SL3 Fire, a combination folding knife, signal whistle, and wet/dry magnesium alloy fire striker. A special notch at the base of the knife blade is for use with the striker. (
  • Swedish Firesteel, used by numerous armies around the world. This is one of the most powerful spark producers I've ever used. (
  • Magnesium block with a striker embedded in one edge, and a small folding knife to serve as a striking steel and shaving device. Shave some magnesium flakes into the tinder to help initiate the fire. (
  • Blastmatch. This unit operates by plunging the protruding striker into the handle (where the steel is embedded) while aiming sparks at the tinder. Works well at creating powerful sparks, but has moving parts. The advantage is one-handed operation, so it can be used even if one arm/hand is injured. ( 

No comments:

Post a Comment