Survivalism & Self Sufficiency Topics > Primitive Skills & Earth Skills

A Question Of Firestarting Priorities ..

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For probably close to 20 years I carried a magnesium firestarter and nothing else.  I learned to start a fire in under five minutes with it and that was normal.  In the last five or so years I've gotten lazy and recently when I tried to start a fire with magnesium, it took at least 20 minutes (not enough patience, scraped too little material, would get a brief flare up, but not enough to ignite my marginal tinder).  For that reason, I think there's some value in making yourself doing it the hard way most of the time, but you're really working against human nature.  Given the choice, we'll always take the path of least resistance.

After my 20 minute experience, I opted to change what I carry.  I now carry a ferro rod and keychain aluminum pill bottle with one vasoline-impregnated cotton ball.  I get a much more reliable first-strike fire, but honestly, I think it's a poor choice.  I should at least carry a small magnesium rod as opposed to just a ferro rod.  I'd still have the same ferro rod, but have another good way to get a fire started, even after my cotton balls are gone.

This I'm seeing as very true about human nature.. We will try and take the easiest path..

Nothing wrong with that, but we also have to think about what we may use for making this fire.. Would we use something that we could replenish or will we use what we can NOT replenish  ?? Some folks are looking at this as a factor of calorie burning.. Well in your gear you have a number of ways to get a fire going that would be just as easy on the calorie burn as another, and are replenishable..

The trick has always been for me just what to carry when I want to travel light and minimalistic.  When I know I'll have no plan-B, magnesium is always my default.  For instance, I do some trail running and while I rarely get more than 3-4 miles away from the closest road, there's a chance I could turn and ankle or otherwise have to hunker down for the night.  When you run, everything bounces, so I travel with minimal kit.  My standard running kit is a disposable poncho, magnesium firestarter, CRKT neck knife, 7' of reflective parachute cord, a tiny Black Diamond headlamp, and a 10 oz. water bottle.  Anything more and I get chafing from the bounce of my hip pack.  There's a lot of things I'd like to add, but I know I can make it through the night (during the summer) with those items if I had to.  I don't have room for redundancies, so there's no place for a lighter than might leak out all it's gas if the lever gets stuck down, there's no place for matches that might get wet or I might run out of them if faced with wet tinder; whatever I carry just has to work.

I hear ya Tux

Fact of the matter, I cannot recall the last time I started a campfire, charcoals for the grill, or anything with a lighter.  I am still a smoker and I do light my cigarettes with a lighter 99% of the time, but I often use flint and steel to light them as well.

Because I am a smoker I always have a lighter or two with me, but I keep a ferro rod as part of my EDC on my keys.

Give hat flint and steels is my favorite method and I had it one me, I would likely go with that.  But that is now a part of my EDC, so next in line would be my ferro rod or steel wool and a battery.

I also carry a credit card sized fresnel lens in my wallet as part of my ECD, but don't use it or even think of it often.

I have made friction fire, but don't own the skill, so I would not likely even try. I only have about a 70% success rate when I have a proven kit, and no higher than 30% when I am gathering materials.

And then there is always that lighter.  IMHO, the disposable lighter is the most reliable and effective fire making tool ever devised by man.  The average lighter with be able to start between 1000 to 3000 fires. If it runs out of fuel, it can still be used for the ferro rod it contains.  It is not the first thing I reach for, but it is my ultimate back up.

I'd start with the most difficult for me and then work to the easiest for me, so I'd start with friction. I'm out of practice.



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