For any outdoor excursionist such as a camper, back packer or a survivalist, a survival fire starter kit is undeniably a very essential component to have. Fire provides perhaps the only means of performing some important survival tasks when one is outdoors such as, purifying drinking water, providing warmth/heat for cooking, deterring animals away amongst other activities.
So whether you are having a family camping trip or have found yourself a little bit stranded with nothing more than just a car emergency kit, fire is definitely a life saver and it’s important that one at least knows how to build a fire starting kit.
Just before we explore the components of a diy fire starter kit, there are some important factors to consider when building one. These include:
Experience and Knowledge
Overall, it’s important to know how to use the kit assembled. If you don’t know how to use something in your kit then it’s not going to be the best fire starter kit for you. Practice will be necessary to gain some experience so you can find out what methods work best for you. Only then will you know what to include in your kit.
It will not be beneficial at all to make a primitive fire kit, such as a hand drill fire kit or a bow drill fire starter kit if one isn’t conversant with how to use them. But, these friction fire kits can be a good addition to your main kit once you do know how to use them properly.
If you have more than one way of starting a fire, the better the chances of success, especially in difficult conditions. So to be on the safe side, it is recommended to have more than one method of starting a fire included in your kit and at least three different items to use as fire starters.
Many of these items are incredibly light and so having a back-up emergency fire starter kit is not ill advised and can actually come in handy if your main edc fire kit is spent or compromised by wetness.
It is also highly advised to have your fire kits stored in different locations e.g. you could choose to have one stored on your back pack whilst keeping the other one on your belt pack just in case of anything.
You have to have something to store your items in. A fire kit pouch or small Maxpedition bag will work just fine. You could also make an altoids fire kit using an altoids tin. Other small tins will work as well and can also be used to make char cloth and boil water in.
Making your Fire Starter Kits Water-Proof
Wet conditions are very definitely annoying as it is difficult to ignite damp wood. Here are some tips on how to start a fire with wet wood. There are however ways to keep your fire making materials from getting wet. You can store the separate items in zip lock bags within your fire kit container, or just store them in a container that is water-proof.
Fire kit contents
The contents of your kit should include things like igniters, tinders and extenders, and kindling.
- Conventional Lighters. Having at least two lighters is recommended. An inexpensive disposable one and a butane-fueled one. The gas fueled one is good for staying lit even in windy or wet conditions.
- Ferrocerium (Ferro-rod). Ferro rods produces a large amount of sparks when scraped against other rough textured surfaces such as other metals. Just as with a magnesium block, ferrocerium burns at immensely high temperatures (3000 degree F) and is also highly effective in igniting damp or wet tinder. Ferro-rods are available in different sizes.
- Magnifying glass. Lenses can be used to start a fire using the sun. It’s a resource that never runs out. As long as the sun is shinning, you can use this one and spare your other options. A fresnel lens is a very thin magnifying glass that can easily fit in your kit or even your wallet.
- Matchsticks. It is advisable to buy waterproof matches or alternatively attempt to waterproof your own. You can also seal standard matches in a container that’s waterproof. Such containers can include film canisters which are greatly suited to keep out moisture.
- Magnesium block fire starter. Numerous superstores or camping stores have these. Other than being incredibly light weight, magnesium comes in handy when the tinder becomes wet or damp. By shaving off some of the magnesium and lighting it, the 5400 degree (F) fire that results is enough to light the damp tinder.
Tinder is a important component of fire creation. It is simply any collection of dry, small and highly combustible materials that quickly catches the first flame and used to ignite the rest of the fuel or kindling. Good examples of tinder include:
- Dry Cotton Balls. It’s good to fluff the cotton a bit first before igniting it. Doing this has the effect of increasing their surface area and hence a higher likelihood of catching a flame. Dry cotton balls previously dipped in alcohol are an excellent alternative as well.
- Cotton Balls Laced with Petroleum Jelly. Whilst also being a good fuel on its own, petroleum jelly also acts as a water proofing substance for the cotton. If fluffed a little, the cotton will ignite just as easily as its dry counterpart.
- Jute Twine. The twine should be fluffed as well such that the small fibers are spread out to increase the surface area.
- Dryer lint. Should burn quite easily since it usually contains some cotton. Adding something like paraffin wax or petroleum jelly can extend the burn time.
- Extremely dry pieces of wood or cattail heads. When mixed up with other very dry plant life such as grass, these are very effective tinder.
- Char Cloth. These are made by charring cotton as well as other natural fibers in a metallic tin. The cloth catches a spark and turns it to a red ember and can be blown further into a flame using other dry tinder.
Other good tinder material that can be used include: fat wood, lip balm, twigs, corn chips (yeah, it seems strange but they can be ignited since they are highly saturated in oil or fat), tree pitch or sap.
Under normal circumstances the types of kindling that one would look for may include: tree limbs, twigs, branches or in the case of an organized campsite, split wood. However there are alternatives available if these are not to be found. Two examples include:
- Pine Cones. These can quickly catch fire over tinder (such as pine needles) and in addition release a pleasant fragrance.
- Using Newspapers. When a number of newspapers are rolled into tight tube, they burn over slowly allowing the bulkier wood pieces to catch fire. The tube should be tied up securely into a knot. This prevents the various layers from moving around when being lit. Thus, having a bunch of old newspapers stashed in your back pack isn’t a bad idea after all.
In conclusion, even if one has water, food and shelter already factored in, an exciting and effective night in the woods under the stars would not be possible without fire. Keeping warm, having hot food as well as hot water and a sense of security is just as important.