As you may already know, there are Lots of ways to start a fire. I have tried many of them over the years, and still practice a variety of methods as much as possible even today. It’s never a bad idea to know a few of the different ways to accomplish this potentially “life-saving” skill. If you are not into the whole “Survival” thing, than it’s still not a bad idea so that you are not the person at the campground using an entire bottle of lighter/charcoal fluid to accomplish this task, and still failing most times. I can’t be the only one who has seen this before? Ten foot flame for thirty seconds or so, and then nothing?
So there are probably as many opinions (probably more) about what is the best fire starting implement, as there are fire starting implements. Here are just a few examples:
There are the ones that you can simply buy at a store (shown above), and of course…there’s always the primitive ways where you make them yourself (ie.. Hand drill, bow drill, fire plow, fire saw, fire piston, flint and steel etc etc..). The store bought items usually offer results consistent with some sort of instant gratification, whereas the latter requires much more labor and skill. Another thing to consider and talk about is the preparation in starting any fire, but let’s discuss that later and stick with the implements here first. ( Video on a bow drill start to finish: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gFBjzqLlAa8&index=18&list=PLLSCwNPpoRJfRMRd7Wp1q-hWAoYyEawgC )
So a bit on fire prep may be a good thing at this point. Let’s skip past specific resources, as they vary with geographic location quite considerably. The process remains much the same however. To start a fire with anything less than instant flame….there is “a process”. There are a couple of steps you need to concern yourself with to be successful. The first is some sort of “bird’s nest”, or “tinder bundle”. Some folks claim there is a difference in the terminology between the two….but I disagree. A bird’s nest is nothing more than tinder (an easily, readily combustible material). That will be what you use in order to get your coal (however you may accomplish that) to a flame. The next thing you need is some sort of kindling, and the size will help tremendously in this step. So this usually takes place with pinky-size twigs or smaller. Once you have a good fire/coal bed going….it will be much easier to get your fuel (substantial size wood that will burn long and hot) to a sustainable point. ( A couple of videos showing the collection/processing of materials: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uC0r5EpwFFc&index=5&list=PLLSCwNPpoRJfRMRd7Wp1q-hWAoYyEawgC https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cdAG2a2GEXg&list=PLLSCwNPpoRJfRMRd7Wp1q-hWAoYyEawgC&index=6 )
Now that we have discussed the process briefly, let’s get back to implements. So with the ever popular ferro rod, you need to know that “the process” is required. You may skip the bird’s nest or tinder bundle if you wish….but you will surely need to process whatever material you will use, in most cases. So this will take at least some time….which will vary based on knowledge and skills, not to mention the resource(s) itself. So the way I view this is, ok the ferro rod works well when wet….but what about the tinder? That is usually the overlooked portion when I see folks talk about this. Something to keep in mind I guess. Open flames will help tremendously in this way. You can also skip the processing portion a great deal with open flame, thus saving time and energy spent. Here is another video where I show/discuss this: ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8EjUZeOK7i4&list=PLLSCwNPpoRJfRMRd7Wp1q-hWAoYyEawgC&index=23 )
I have learned a lot over time, and a lot more about myself. With that said, I always try and be humble and honest, because why not? Who am I fooling otherwise? So having tried many of the fire starting implements, I have gone back to the simple match. I do use a lighter sometimes as well, but I prefer a match….maybe it’s the traditions of the Maine Guide in me, I’m not really sure. At any rate, these methods have been introduced and evolved over time for a reason…..so it’s not ALWAYS a smart decision to go back in time and try and reinvent the wheel, or quickly jump on the band wagon of the next best Survival fire starter. Though I practice many skills, and I think it is wise to do so, I don’t try and sell an idea to conform to popular opinion….that helps nobody. I guess at the end of the day it would be hard to market matches or a lighter. I think either of the two would be nice to have when needed, but the matches are what I enjoy using….and that’s just personal preference.
Without going on and on here, and rambling, it is all up to the user and what they like, or prefer……too each their own I guess. But let’s not help spread bad decision making processes, just to conform to a popular belief, agree with the latest “Expert”, or because we can make some money from it. Let’s pass on the good, practical information that may actually help someone one day!