Practical Fire Starting

Dear Fellow Survivalist;

I must confess, I have to laugh at myself from time to time. Like everyone else in the survival community, I tend to collect methods for doing things, such as starting fires. For some, this is almost a point of pride; being able to say that they know X number of ways of starting a fire.

While that knofire-startingwledge is useful, I’ll have to say that many of the more rustic bush craft methods are not things we want to depend on in a survival situation. Granted, if we don’t have any other choice, it’s nice to know, and that’s why we should study those methods. But at the same time, we should do everything within our power to ensure that we’re not put in a position where we need to use them.

C’mon now, who really wants to try starting a fire with a bow drill, when they just fell into a river and hypothermia is just about to set in? That’s a recipe for disaster, if you ask me. You and I would be much better off in such a situation if we could just flick our Bic and have a fire going.

Some of the other common survival fire starters are just about as bad. Have you ever really tried to start a fire with a Ferro Rod or a Metal Match? While both are workable solutions, they are both difficult ones to work with. If all you’ve got is a spark, it’s going to take a lot of skill to start a fire.

Of all the possible fire starting methodologies that exist, I have to say that nothing beats the butane lighter, that infamous Bic. I say this because of a combination of its ease of use and the large number of fires you can light from one disposable lighter. Nothing else will give you so much, in such a small package, especially not waterproof matches.

I take that a step farther and have invested in a windproof refillable butane lighter. These use a piezoelectric striker, which is constantly trying to re-ignite the flame, as long as the butane is flowing. That way, even if the wind manages to blow the flame out, it restarts immediately. Being refillable, all I need to do to extend the life is carry a can of butane with me to recharge the lighter when it runs out.

Of course, my primary fire starter can break or get lost, so I carry a secondary (or two). My favorite secondary fire starter is a BlastMatch. There’s a similar product on the market, called the Little Sparkie, which is a bit more compact, making it great for survival kits. If you’ve got to use a sparker to start a fire, these are a whole lot more effective than either a Ferro Rod or a Metal Match. They send a shower of sparks into the tinder, not just a few. Chances of starting a fire with these are much better than with your typical Ferro Rod.

Then there’s the whole question of fire accelerants and commercial tinder. There are a variety of these around, marketed under a variety of names. Basically, they’re all good. For that matter, the various ones you can make at home are good too.

But most people don’t carry enough of these along with them. Oh, they might have one or two in a survival kit or as many as ten in their bug out bag, but that’s it. But they’re going to need a lot more than ten fires to survive. I sure hope they can get it going with dry grass or something. But for me, I’ll carry as many along as I can; that means about 50 in my bug out bag.

Do you see what I’m doing here? I’m trying to simplify my survival planning. You’ve got to realize that in many survival situations, your capabilities will be greatly diminished. Whether that will be due to injury, hypothermia or starvation, you won’t be in your top form. Therefore, you need simple methods that will work every time, with or without you remembering the one secret to make that fire starting method work.

Rather than depending on difficult methods to provide my basic needs, I’m looking for simplicity. At the same time, I’m looking for things that will help ensure my survival needs are met. That way, if I ever find myself in a situation where I actually do have to use them, I’m not depending on my skills. Ultimately, that will increase my chances of survival.

At the same time, I’m going to continue studying various methods for starting a fire. While I may not want to use them, and I’m doing everything I can to make sure I’m not caught without a good fire starting method at hand, things happen. If I find myself in a situation where I don’t have my survival gear on hand, I still want to survive.

So, what other ways can you simplify your survival needs? Look at your kit and ask yourself the question, “Is this easy to work with?” If it isn’t, I’d like to suggest that you look for something easier. Make survival easier for yourself and you’re more likely to survive.

In the mean time, keep your powder dry and your survival equipment close at hand.

Dr. Rich


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