In the mid-eighties, I only took a gas stove for emergencies, assuming that we would always be able to get a campfire going except in the foulest of weather. Nowadays of course, having a wood fire is a luxury or as some would say an environmental disaster, that few of us experience on a regular basis.
|WWII match holder and compass|
Over the years, the type of fire starter has diversified so that new alternatives to the waterproof match have appeared.
I could never get the waterproof match to work especially in the wet and always found that I wore out of the "striker" surface before I finished my last match. So it was not long before I migrated to a cigarette lighter, initially a gold one belonging to my aunt which had the benefit of an adjustable flame with renewable flint and the ability to refill. However I always managed to misplace it!
Disposable cigarette lighters were readily available and cheap so I usually took a couple of these with me. Over time I accumulated quite a few of these but they often seemed to stop working from one walk to the next, either the flint wore out or the gas seemed to escape.
I never found them very effective on a cold morning, especially if they had been left out over night next to your stove and got wet. I always burnt my thumb when lighting my MSR Whisperlite although some of my younger bushwalking friends taught me how to manipulate the flame on a disposable lighter so you could get a jet about 4 cm long. This certainly helped. One tip that I have been told for keeping your lighter dry is to put it on a string around your neck.
When air safety regulations were introduced which prevented you from carrying disposable lighters on board a flight, I changed over to "fire steels". By then I was using a MSR Whisperlite, and the sparks were all that was needed to light the Shellite primer (white gas).
Some tips I've learnt to help start a fire using a steel are
- keep the steel in contact with the tinder *
- pull the the steel up at the same time as you push the striker down.*
- use Vaseline** on cotton wool balls as fire starters (waterproof)
- tampons make great "tinder"
** Vaseline® Petroleum Jelly is a mixture of mineral oils, paraffin and microcrystalline waxes
|Light My Fire Firesteel|
Some interesting facts about the flints (ferrocerium alloy) in cigarette and gas lighters and in firesteels can be read at
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