Thursday, September 18, 2014


One of the most important things to have while in the back country, is the ability to make fire.  Fire is a multifaceted element and could be crucial in the event of a survival situation.  For obvious reasons, it has the ability to keep you warm.  Other reasons include the ability to sterilize water, dry wet clothes, and cook food, among others.  Whether I am out on an easy hike with the dogs, on a mountain bike ride, or cruising around on the four wheeler, one rule and habit that I have developed, is to have a very minimum of one method to start a matter what the season.  Even in the summer, temperatures here in the high desert can fluctuate as much as 50 degrees.  Although I have several different 'fire kits', this one is the largest and most complete and it stays in the car.  Easily thrown into any pack or bag in the event that I don't have any other methods with me. 

Wax coated jute twine.  I made these myself.   
See how to make these from my prior blog post:

"Esbit (which stands for Erich Schumms Brennstoff im Tablettenform)" or "hexamine" tablets.  A fuel source invented in in Germany in the 1930's.  They are readily used with an Esbit type stove by campers, the military, and if necessary, emergency applications.  Although they can be lit in the tablet form, they light much easier if broken into slightly smaller pieces.  Depending on the brand, one tablet generally burns about 8-10 minutes.  Take care to avoid breathing excess amounts of the smoke...these are chemicals.

A firestarter I found in the store made of a wax and sawdust mixture.  They are packaged in slender tube shapes and can be easily broken off. 

Petroleum jelly infused cotton facial pads kept in a small Ziplock bag.  These are fantastic, easily lit fire starting tinder, and will burn more slowly than just the cotton.

"Strike Anywhere" matches with a small piece of fine sandpaper duct taped to the lid of a simple plastic container.

Quite a few years ago I learned of a very good fire starting method for uncooperative weather.  You'll need a sturdy piece of aluminum foil, measuring about 14"x12", a votive candle, and a fire maker...usually a lighter or matches.  With the foil, make a small 'cave' shape large enough for both of your hands to fit into and fold the outer edges over (see picture below).  Place the votive candle inside and light your candle.  The 'cave' will protect your fire from the elements - rain, snow, and/or windThe votive candle will burn far longer than any match.  This method will allow you the ability to at least start a small starter fire inside the 'cave' before you can grow your more prominent fire.  If a fire cannot be built for any reason, i.e., a snow cave, the foil and the candle alone will still produce a surprising amount of heat.  Some heat is always better than no heat.
The foil 'cave'

My favorite

Everything shown above fits into this cheap Dollar Store 
zippered neoprene bag.  
It measures about 6" x 3" x 1" and has held up surprisingly well.

Fire is an extremely powerful element.  No matter the season, there is always a risk of some sort with fire.  Please give it the utmost respect and caution when using it.  And as respectful of nature and its surroundings.

"Some women are lost in the fire.  Some women are built from it."  --Michelle K.