Fire is extremely important if you are hiking or camping, especially if you find yourself in need of heat, light or the protection fire can offer.
Making a fire can be extremely difficult or downright child’s play, depending on what you have available and the urgency your need.
If you think about it, making a fire is a science project because a fire, any fire, needs the same four basic ingredients to start:
Throughout the years, I have tried many ways to start fires; some were a little unconventional, such as using a can of soda and candy bar, while other methods were extremely simple, such as using a lighter or striking a match.
Like many of you, some of my fire-building attempts have failed miserably, while other tactics were effortless. The truth is that, for those who regularly venture off the beaten path, we never know when we will need to build a fire. Speaking from experience, even the best lighters sometimes fail, and matches, even waterproof types, may not strike.
Making my share of mistakes taught me to err on the side of caution and always carry in my daypack or hunting pack more than one fire-starting option.
Being prepared with a few lightweight, grab-and-go fire-starting options that are easily contained and organized within a capsule is not overly difficult. The key is to keep it simple and basic and have several options just in case your usual go-to methods fail.
In my fire-starter kit there are, on average, five different items to generate a spark and several other items that make good tinder. And if there is any available space inside the container, I stuff it full of anything I may need to help with the fire-building process.
An added bonus for me is that everything is packed together in a plastic container, such as a large prescription bottle or a plastic can like those that hold grated parmesan cheese. Since the overall weight is minimal, that little homemade fire-starting kit will go just about anywhere I go.
- Slender, lightweight refillable lighter
- Waterproof matches. If I cannot fit the entire box inside my kit, I tear off the striker strip and place the strip only inside the kit.
- Flexible plastic magnifying sheet. A magnifying glass is bulky, so I carry a lightweight, flexible, unbreakable-plastic magnifying sheet, such as the type used to read fine print. It easily rolls up, can be trimmed to fit inside a container and works just as well as glass to focus a beam of sunlight on to tinder.
- Magnesium stick
- 9-volt battery
- Cotton balls covered with Vaseline
- Pieces of wax and lint-covered cardboard. I make my own by covering scraps of cardboard with lint from my dryer and then pouring candle wax over the pieces small enough to fit into my container.
- Scraps of steel wool to use with the 9-volt battery. Be sure to keep the 9-volt battery and steel wool separated until you are ready to start a fire.
- Wax paper or tissue
Share your favorite ways to keep fire-starting materials handy in the comment section.