Survivalism & Self Sufficiency Topics > Primitive Skills & Earth Skills

A Question Of Firestarting Priorities ..

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--- Quote from: endurance on January 08, 2013, 11:44:04 AM ---Have you ever made tea light buddy burners?
Amazing fire starters.  And yes, a bic is definitely the way to go.  While I always carry a backup, sometimes you don't have time to mess around.

--- End quote ---

Great link Endurance. I'm a relative noob to the tea lights and I haven't made any buddy burners but you can be sure I will now.


the modified tea lights are an awesome idea....

I've taken canning wax (gulf wax), melted it, dunked cotten balls in that one at a time and layed them out to harden.  It works pretty well, just fray the edges and get it to take a flame from your lighter.    I have also taken 20 yds or so of regular cotton string (like chefs use to tie up poultry) and dunked it in the melted wax.   Pulled it out to dry.  Snipped it into finger length peices and put them into an old multi-vitamin bottle.   They work well too.

I'll second what Archer said:  Be really careful about how and where you're melting wax.  Ounce for ounce it contains more energy than gasoline and while it's not nearly as volatile at room temperature, near its boiling point it can do some serious damage.

@ ash blue:  if you search on youtube for buddy burners, most are made in cat food cans and cut down soup cans.  Those are just bigger than I need for my purposes.

I've also used these tins for making small buddy burners:


They're more durable, larger (even the mid-size holds over two tea lites worth of wax), and you can close them after you use them for a while.  The last one I tested lasted 39 minutes with a 4" flame.  I used a "wick" that was about 3.5" long strip of cardboard from the back of a legal pad of paper.  Not the corrugated stuff.  You can vary the flame length with the overall length of you wick; not the length above the wax, but the length coiled inside the candle.  Shorter wick = longer burn time and shorter flame.  Longer wick = more heat output, shorter burn time. 

I still like having some tea lite ones around because you can just let them burn up inside your fire and not worry about trying to recover them.  That said, wrap them in aluminum foil or they tend to make a mess and get wax all over the inside of your pack as they get bumped around.

I first learned about these in a wilderness survival class.  One of the students used them to stay warm in his snow cave.  He'd get cold, light one up, it would burn for about 20 minutes bringing the inside temperature of his cave from about 25F to about 52F.  He did that several times throughout the night.  He managed to actually get some sleep despite having the most austere shelter of us all and only having a space blanket and his clothes to keep him warm on a night that had a low of -10F.  I think we all learned more from him than the instructor. :o

Great idea with those candles!  Most people don't realize how useful a simple candle can be.  If you wrap yourself in a poncho and have a small candle, you can not only stay warm, but even dry your clothes you are wearing if they are wet.  Just make sure you keep you head out of the poncho and not in the smoke.

The best thing to take with you to start a fire? - Knowledge

You need to be able to find things around you to use.  Moss from a tree good.  If you have some pine sap to rub into it, then it works just a well as a cotton ball and some vaseline.  There are many other natural sources of tinder you can uses, if you know what is in your area. 

To get a heat source, the easiest thing is to use a lighter, it will start hundreds of fires if you have things ready.  If you want to start thousands of fires go with a ferro rod.  I like the 3/8" ones.  You just have to know how to get a good spark.  A slow even push with the end directly in the tinder works much better than flicking the rod a foot over the tinder in the hope that a spark will fall into the tinder.  Have the rod in the tinder and don't move the heat source around until the fire has started.


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