When a Zippo Is Not Enough, These Fire Starting Materials Could Be a Lifesaver
ReadyNutrition Readers, this piece is a reiteration of fire-starting basics in terms of materials to stockpile for yourselves, for your winter-fires or for a grid-down/collapse event. You can place these materials in your home, in your “Bug-Out” bag, your vehicle, and in your work locations. Sometimes the Zippo lighter is not enough, and you need a little more material in order to “kick start” your fires. Let’s cover some of them as well as simple procedures to keep them waterproof.
- Storm-proof matches – There are several types of stormproof and windproof matches. The company I recommend for them are UCO windproof and waterproof matches. You can purchase these at Cabela’s or you can visit the site at UCO gear.
These guys deliver, and they come within a case that keeps them waterproof (even though they can be submerged under water and then struck on virtually any surface). At $5 to $7 they’re a good investment. Strike anywhere matches can be waterproofed, however, they are hygroscopic, meaning they absorb moisture/humidity/water with time.
2. Zippo lighter – Along with matches, you’ll need a good lighter. Everyone is familiar with the Zippo, that works on white gas/Coleman fuel, as well as gasoline. They are good to have a backup when the times are tough, and butane is in short supply. The drawbacks lie in the fact that they leak, meaning the lighter doesn’t stay closed and loses/evaporates its fuel. Also, you need flints and wicks with them.
For disposables, I really like the ones made by Djeep, a French firm. They are short, rectangular, and stubby, and they both take a beating and are dependable. It can’t hurt to pick up a few dozen of them. The “El-Cheapo” lighters made in Vietnam are unreliable and will not work when the time comes. If you can’t get hold of Djeeps, stick with your Bics, as there is usually better quality control over them than in the “off” brands.
3. Fire logs – As far as fire-starting materials are concerned, I have recommended in previous articles that you refrain from buying some commercial fire-starters as in Coughlans or another name-brand. Buy a fire log in your local grocery store. The fire logs are made of sawdust and paraffin and wrapped up after they are compressed in paper that can also be burnt. You slice off a section of the fire log, wrap it in paper (try wax paper) and stick the “slice” in a Ziploc bag. Voila! You just made a piece that is larger than those paltry “sticks” they sell for $7 or more. Remember to cap off the end of the fire log with a plastic bag and then rubber-band it secure.
4. Magnesium bar with flint rod – There are plenty of metal matches and fire-starting strikers out on the market. A good metal match is a plus as well, and many of these come in self-contained plastic tubules that prevent the match from getting wet. They also usually come with a tool to help you strike off sparks. My preference is the magnesium bar with the flint rod attached to the back of the long edge in a groove. You shave off shavings of the magnesium bar with a knife and then strike sparks onto the shavings using the flint rod. Waterproof these with the Ziploc bag or a small Tupperware container.
5. DIY firestarters – Lint from the lint-guard of your dryer can be blended with some paraffin to make the fire-starting material. Here’s an easy DIY article to make these. You can also add sawdust, or use it on its own. Another thing: a small syringe can be a lifesaver if you don’t have any of these materials around. You can use this syringe to take a small amount of gasoline, oil, alcohol, or other combustible material to inundate either wood shavings, leaves, or other material to make a fire. There are plenty of small tricks that you can do. A small 9 Volt battery (rectangular, with male and female terminals) can be placed to touch plain (“unsoaped”) steel wool to produce a flame.
Prep all these materials by making them waterproof or water-resistant whether or not they are already made as such. The reason being is that protective casings also protect them from spills or contamination by other chemicals or situations. Preventative measures are always much easier than trying to start at a “deficit” of needing the materials when the “suck” factor (weather, dangerous surroundings, etc.) is high. Fight that good fight each day, and prep as if there’s no tomorrow. There probably is, but if it arrives and everything goes down the tubes, you won’t have any more time to prepare. JJ out!
Jeremiah Johnson is the Nom de plume of a retired Green Beret of the United States Army Special Forces (Airborne). Mr. Johnson was a Special Forces Medic, EMT and ACLS-certified, with comprehensive training in wilderness survival, rescue, and patient-extraction. He is a Certified Master Herbalist and a graduate of the Global College of Natural Medicine of Santa Ana, CA. A graduate of the U.S. Army’s survival course of SERE school (Survival Evasion Resistance Escape), Mr. Johnson also successfully completed the Montana Master Food Preserver Course for home-canning, smoking, and dehydrating foods.
Mr. Johnson dries and tinctures a wide variety of medicinal herbs taken by wild crafting and cultivation, in addition to preserving and canning his own food. An expert in land navigation, survival, mountaineering, and parachuting as trained by the United States Army, Mr. Johnson is an ardent advocate for preparedness, self-sufficiency, and long-term disaster sustainability for families. He and his wife survived Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. Cross-trained as a Special Forces Engineer, he is an expert in supply, logistics, transport, and long-term storage of perishable materials, having incorporated many of these techniques plus some unique innovations in his own homestead.
Mr. Johnson brings practical, tested experience firmly rooted in formal education to his writings and to our team. He and his wife live in a cabin in the mountains of Western Montana with their three cats.
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