Do you know how to start one in the most dire of situations? Many THINK they do, but have you really put your method to the test?
Having started many a camp fires in the BSA back in the day, I thought “what’s the big deal, I can start a fire no problem!”
There is a problem though, it’s the fact that we are always starting fires with dry wood and on dry days for the most part. Even my great grandson can do this without issue!
I recently came across the video below and it made me reconsider if I really had what it took to start a fire in the worst of conditions under stress.
MY DEFAULT SYSTEM
The great grand-kid’s video is striking a piece that has been in the Strike Force for over (2) years now and it lit off just like I made it yesterday.
While (3) attempts at a fire using the petro-cotton would likely be enough to get one going with this setup, the candle makes great sense as show in the video.
Considering the longer burn time and ability to reuse it again and again has made me change my first choice to the candle and lighter method delegating the striker and petro-cotton to backup status.
MAKING THE CANDLE
After a failed first attempt with hinged mini Altoid tins (hinges leak!) I decided to make my own flat candles with double wicks from a Dollar Store 8hr emergency candle and a small tin I found at a health store.
It was as simple as cutting a few sections of the candle for wicks then melting it into the tins on a burner.
A fully enclosed tin was important to me as wax melts when left in your kit (especially in the car) and my hope was that when I need it, it will be inside the tin still, not smeared all inside my pack.
In the photo I have electrical tape holding the lid on temporarily, but it was soon replaced by a wide “Ranger Band” (aka, piece of bike inner tube) that can also be used as fuel.
Melting and reforming is an issue in high heat with candles so I tested one in my GHB which resides in the car for several days of 100F + conditions. There was no leakage outside of the tin, but it did get between the lid and base and require some effort to open.
Correction: Eventually the candles melted in the car and glued the lids together. I found out that beeswax unlike candle wax melts at 140F vs. 99F so the obvious solution was to…
I could test this system under a sprinkle since it’s Summer now, but have decided to wait until this Fall for testing both methods in some fine Oregon rain. Will post the vid here when it’s done.
Takeaway is again… “TEST YOUR GEAR, TEST YOURSELF!”