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11/13/2015 3:49 pm  #18

Re: "Firestarter" Alternatives

I found the ZIP fire starters to be the handiest things ever invented. They are extremely light weight, each block is in its own cellophane, does not smell, nor crumble,light with cellophane on, stays good for years. Burning time about 1 minute. clean burn. Available at Canadian tire in the BBQ isle, 48 blocks 2"x1" for $7.00 or so. (maybe too late for this season as most seasonal isles have become xmas isles)
Been using them for years.



11/13/2015 5:33 pm  #19

Re: "Firestarter" Alternatives

My Self Reliance wrote:

That's funny John. I do chuckle at all of the alternative fire starters on the market, most of which are no more traditional or reliable than a lighter and matches. If my plane goes down in the middle of nowhere, I'm more likely to have and need those than a ferro rod and a pocket full of Vaseline. If I'm not found before they run out, I'm probably screwed anyway. That being said, a bow drill and bark shavings will likely save me in that case.

Okay, but most of this thread seems to be about combustibles that can be easily ignited to get a fire going (ie alternatives to bark/tinder), not tools for lighting them (ie alternatives to cigarette lighters/matches).

I do agree with John that birch bark is usually the only fire starter you need, but in case you end up somewhere where it's not available, it doesn't hurt to have some form of homemade or store-bought fire starter in your pocket.


11/13/2015 6:27 pm  #20

Re: "Firestarter" Alternatives

Hey Dan, agreed.  Still no comments on the Esbit tabs.  Im surprised


11/13/2015 7:41 pm  #21

Re: "Firestarter" Alternatives

I don't use Esbit because it stinks and I would have to go out and buy Esbit. That said burn time for weight it's as good as it gets. I use Vaseline soaked cotton balls but they take up space and are messy. To counter this I seal them in drinking straws.


11/13/2015 11:41 pm  #22

Re: "Firestarter" Alternatives

Yeah, I've used that one myself. I like the IntenseAngler's videos. He does have some neat ideas.


11/14/2015 7:29 am  #23

Re: "Firestarter" Alternatives

John I agree - I've never found starting a fire very much of a chore - heck I don't even mind collecting wood, give you a chance to look and listen around the forest.

When I need to start a fire, I use this algorithm..
1. Lighter + Birch Bark
if no Birch..
2. Lighter + Dry pine needles
if no pine needles..
3. Lighter + a bunch of tiny tiny twigs in a thick bundle, light and go - even works when they're wet - they just need to be really,really small.

I've never brought any fire starter item on a trip, but I suppose it couldn't hurt - just in case.


12/15/2015 4:10 pm  #24

Re: "Firestarter" Alternatives

Love the Vaseline & cotton balls for simplicity and success with a sparker. I live far from where I camp and of course do not transport local wood. Sometimes I arrive late and am unsure of local wood options when car camping so I often pre-purchase kiln dried wood. Down here in NY Walmart also sells kiln dried kindling which is kind of handy. Even without the kindling the kiln dried stuff is ready to go - a couple of weekends ago in the Adirondacks in a steady drizzle my 14 year old daughter got a rip roaring campfire started with sparker, cotton balls, wally-wood and a handy tourist brochure we picked up for the purpose on the way in.


12/17/2015 8:46 pm  #25

Re: "Firestarter" Alternatives

Don't waste your time trying to use the firestarters the Park was handing out this year.  Useless.

Most campsites have tons of fire starter laying on the ground.  One can always tell where people have been chopping wood.  Wood chips all over the place.

Dry pine needles are also abundant.

Usually lots and lots of dry twigs, too. 

We use Chinette plates, and save them for "campfire day".  Roll each one into a tube, place on top of pine needles and twigs, use the lighter. 

Mind you, we only have fires to burn the garbage and not as a survival tool or for cooking.


Take everything as it comes; the wave passes, deal with the next one.

Tom Thomson, 1877-1917

1/20/2016 11:17 am  #26

Re: "Firestarter" Alternatives

I guess I need to start with this is an embarrassing story....many years ago I took my dad on our one and only camping trip together.  He was late 50's I was early 20's.  Our second day was our second day of constant rain.  I thought I had the fire situation all set by virtue of bic lighters.  Multiple bic lighters.  I discovered that those become completely and totally useless when your saturated, wrinkled hands get the flint wet, and as a result, we were without fire that night.  (I'm giving you a short version because I no longer recall all the details).  It was a lousy night after a lot of paddling and portaging.  As a paranoid response, I now carry everything in the world with me - except lighters.  Fire starter sticks, a ton of laundry lint, a zillion matches in fireproof containers stored in multiple places on multiple packs, flint and steel.  I look back at that evening and wonder how in the world I was unable to get a fire going by one method or another.  I think it was a combination of being very tired, and feeling too much imagined pressure of getting it attended to "now", a little immaturity, and probably some inexperience.  But I'll tell you this much - never again will I be unable to start a fire.  The Park may tell me I can't have a fire, and that's fine, but I'll always be able to make one.  


2/26/2016 4:54 pm  #27

Re: "Firestarter" Alternatives

CanoeClaire wrote:

I collect dryer lint and bring a small ziploc baggy with me. It's probably not as efficient or effective as cotton balls and wax but it's perfect when you're too lazy to actually melt the wax or apply the vaseline. I just keep a container on the top of my dryer and instead of throwing out the lint, I save it. 

Thanks for reminding me to save my dryer lint. This is an excellent idea. 


2/26/2016 5:00 pm  #28

Re: "Firestarter" Alternatives

RobW wrote:

We make these up using egg cartons, old candles and dryer lint or wood shavings.


This video is amazing. My son is gathering our egg cartoons and lint and candle wax left over. 
Does anyone know if old crayons burn well, because we have a lot too. 


2/28/2016 4:56 pm  #29

Re: "Firestarter" Alternatives

I use a fire steel with my knife combined with birch bark to get my tinder lit. Just a quick reminder, you cannot cut, damage etc, any living thing in the park, so if you're going to use any materials like birch bark, harvest them from fallen trees or from stuff that has fallen off the tree.


3/02/2016 10:28 pm  #30

Re: "Firestarter" Alternatives

MartinG wrote:

... I use Vaseline soaked cotton balls but they take up space and are messy....

I've been wrapping the cotton ball in gauze to keep them neater


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