Please note: This is another in our continuing series of topics where we dig deep and look at quite a range of details for an individual topic. The blog is detailed and the attached videos are longer than our norm. This is education not entertainment.
Warmth, food prep, and morale are the top three things that will increase in quality with a nice fire in the outdoors. Not to mention, a quality fire might just save your life in a disaster or survival situation. In this piece we wanted to do some testing and review of a few of the most common ignition sources along with, what I like to call fire helpers. Fire helpers are fuel sources made for the sole purpose of making fire. They range in price and usefulness. We see these items in our classes on a regular basis and have never taken the time, until now, to put them head-to-head in testing. We created two videos for you that you can see below. Part 1 details the burn times and ease of igniting, Part 2 will detail the ability of these to work when they are wet.
This topic came to mind recently when the father of an alumni of our school called to thank us for saving his son’s life. It is always humbling to see our students being able to take what we have taught them and utilize it for their own safety and well-being in the outdoors. This young man was on a duck hunting trip in cold weather. He fell out a canoe and was immediately soaked and in danger of going hyopothermic. He put his own good mindset and skills to work so that he came out of the ordeal just fine.
How would you handle yourself in that situation? Getting out of any clothes that do not insulate when wet is my first suggestion. In this piece we are looking directly at firebuilding. Fire building for camping, hiking and other adventure is an integral part of many people’s outdoor time. It works great when the weather is great. The following products can help you when it is not so great outside and you need a little assistance.
In this first video I used both a titanLIGHT from Exotac and some ferrocerium rods from Midwest Woodcraft. My purpose was to see how long each product would burn, get a temperature reading on them and to also see how easy or hard it is to light them with the lighter and the ferro rod. Watch this video and review the chart below for details.
I put this second video together for one purpose only and that was to highlight some ignition sources and fuel sources that had been soaked in water for only a few minutes. This was done to simulate someone falling out of boat, hiking and getting drenched, or some similar situation where their supplies became wet. Please note as I say in the video that the key to each of these is to keep them in their packaging. I take that a step further and keep all of my firemaking supplies in a waterproof container as well.
As for a rundown of all the information presented in the videos, you can reference this chart. Look below the chart for what I carry with me for firestarting. My little setup is simple, inexpensive and has worked for me to make hundreds of fires (which includes resupply). I recently added the Exotac fireSLEEVE to be redundant for keeping my ignition source dry.
|Burn Time (min)||Light w Ferro||Temp||Work wet?||Price forone fire||Notes|
|Instafire||18||Moderate||280||no||0.70||2 fires min w each pkg|
|Trioxane||9||Easy||232||easy||1.00||3 fires per stick|
|Wetfire||7||Easy||220||easy||0.69||1 fire with each cube|
|Fast Fire||13||Easy||222||easy||1.00||2 fires min w each cube|
|Live Fire||14||Moderate||218||moderate||2.00||6 fires with one tin|
|Uber Fire||18||Easy||295||easy||1.00||30 fires per tin|
|Esbit||13||Difficult||165||no||0.74||1 fire with each cube|
|Cotton Rolls||4||Easy||160||no||0.10||1 fire with each roll|
I certainly hope that helps you make good decision on what is best for you to use. Each person’s budget, skill level, and needs are different. You need to find what works for you. As for me this is what I am currently utilizing as my go-to fire making kit (although I will most likely add the Exotact titanLIGHT to it now that I have one):
Craig Caudill is the Founder and Chief Instructor of Nature Reliance School. He specializes in teaching outdoor related topics to include, survival, tracking, nature awareness more for private and public groups, and government agencies. Craig’s first book is Extreme Wilderness Survival from Page Street Publishing, distributed by Macmillan Publishing. Craig’s second book, Ultimate Wilderness Gear, is coming in July 2018 and can be pre-ordered now!
Craig is a also frequent contributor to TV outlets, blog sites, magazines and is a popular online outdoor educator on his YouTube channel. Pick up the books, subscribe to him on youtube, or join Craig and the other NRS Instructors in a class so they can help you be more safe and aware in the outdoors.