Most popular/successful Fire lighting in the UK

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Silverclaws2

Tenderfoot
Dec 30, 2019
72
39
52
Devon
Hi, can the more experienced hands here please tell me what they in their experience and practice consider to be the most useful/successful non lighter or match fire lighting method under UK (mostly damp) conditions ?
 
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Broch

Full Member
Jan 18, 2009
3,807
2,984
Mid Wales
+1 for ferro rod but I rarely need the addition of Vaseline TBH. In fact, I find a ferro rod easier and more reliable than matches especially in windy damp conditions as long as you've got something good to catch the sparks.

Don't go thinking this is primitive though :), this is a 21st century firelighting technique; John's steel (iron) and flint is iron age, pyrites and flint would be Mesolithic/Neolitic :)
 

Broch

Full Member
Jan 18, 2009
3,807
2,984
Mid Wales
Good point. I was once stuck in a forest unexpectedly when it was pouring with rain and dark and had very little to light a fire with. I couldn't afford for the few matches I had to be wasted; I used a spray of insect repellent to coat the wet kindling with and it went up like - well, a house on fire :)
 
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C_Claycomb

Mod
Mod
Oct 6, 2003
5,838
911
Bedfordshire
There really are not all that many ways to make fire when you get down to it. You can use sparks or friction. Either one can be used with chemical accelerant/fuel to make flame or with natural material to create an ember. Embers are great in windy conditions as the very wind that would snuff a flame can feed an ember. The ember can be used to dry out damp tinder (

While I love fat wood (resin impregnated pine), it isn't easy to find in the UK. Some may have no trouble, but suitable situations do not appear everywhere. Therefore the most useful for a beginner is something more readily available. The use of vaseline makes it easier, so easy most 11 year-olds can get a fire going with minimal instruction, the main challenge being getting the sparks to fall on the cotton (quite a lot hold the scraper backwards, which doesn't help!).

This thread has some good stuff in it. :)

Chris
 
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Hi, can the more experienced hands here please tell me what they in their experience and practice consider to be the most useful/successful non lighter or match fire lighting method under UK (mostly damp) conditions ?
The most sustainable method is flint, steel & tinderbox fire lighting Silverclaws.
 

punkrockcaveman

Full Member
Jan 28, 2017
544
363
yorks
I'd have to agree with Ferro rod for modern day fire lighting, you only have to watch History channels 'alone' I haven't seen a contestant that hasn't had a ferro rod. I think it has a lot to do with dependability in all weather conditions tbh.

But I am an advocate of the above from Le Loup, charred punkwood and flint and steel combo works great, better than charcloth IMO. I've used this method loads over the last few weeks and it's great. Just not in the rain yet!
 
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Silverclaws2

Tenderfoot
Dec 30, 2019
72
39
52
Devon
.........While I love fat wood (resin impregnated pine), it isn't easy to find in the UK.

Chris
In my scouting days, we used to dry out a piece of softwood and dunk it in a bucket of paraffin for a while, usually over night to make some useful all weather fire lighters to wonder given as you said what fatwood is, folk could make their own using paraffin or somewhat similar.
 

Silverclaws2

Tenderfoot
Dec 30, 2019
72
39
52
Devon
I'd have to agree with Ferro rod for modern day fire lighting, you only have to watch History channels 'alone' I haven't seen a contestant that hasn't had a ferro rod. I think it has a lot to do with dependability in all weather conditions tbh.

But I am an advocate of the above from Le Loup, charred punkwood and flint and steel combo works great, better than charcloth IMO. I've used this method loads over the last few weeks and it's great. Just not in the rain yet!
Yeah, my question specifically mentioned UK conditions as in usually damp to some degree or other, because ideally 'we' need to be fully capable on soggy days of which I guess is the real rest of improvised fire lighting.

As it is I have both old (flint and steel) and new (ferrocerium) methods , it's just I have not used these skills for a hell of a long time and I now find myself in the position of having to teach a newbie to it all. To have at least in the last hour discerned my pupil needs a softer ferrocerium rod than the one I have for advice on ferro rods to be my next question.

But thanks for the reply, thanks to all of you.
 

Robson Valley

Full Member
Nov 24, 2014
8,676
1,629
McBride, BC
The ratio of surface area to volume has a lot to do with how fast you can get any sort of tinder
up to ignition temperatures.

You have birch (Betula sp.). Not the same species that we have but birch and birch bark, nonetheless.
The suberin wax in shredded birch bark prevents the corky bark from getting even damp.
Superlative tinder which will take a ferro spark very nicely. My best time is 30 seconds.

Collect yuor best tinder and prepare it. Not a terrible way to pass the time.
Sandwich baggies of the stuff all throughout your kit.
 

C_Claycomb

Mod
Mod
Oct 6, 2003
5,838
911
Bedfordshire
For ferro rods, the Light My Fire ones seem to be a good hardness. Easy for beginners. The scraper they come with is very good now too. Good enough that one does not need to use the spine of a knife for scraping, if your knife comes with a rounded spine and you like it like that.

I strongly recommend either getting either an orange handled ferro rod, and/or replacing the cord that holds the scraper with orange paracord (or Marlow arborist throw line, also orange)

I have helped out with a school bushcraft event for the past three years and they started out with Mil-Tec ferro rods, which are cheap, but they were horrible to use. The kids had a lot of trouble, they were hard, and the scrapers were rubbish. It was even difficult for some of the instructors too. We get four groups of eight to 12 youngsters, 11 and 14 years old (ish), and aim to have them all get tinder lit, then get a fire going to cook on for the group.

Biggest problems those youngsters have had:
  1. Holding the scraper the wrong way around, or at the wrong angle, even though the LMF scraper has a big thumb divot on once side.
  2. Moving the scraper down the rod rather than moving the rod under the scraper.
  3. Scattering their tinder by over-shooting the end of the rod, as a result of No2
  4. Putting the ferro rod down when fire has been made, then scuffling it under the leaves and twigs next to the fire place.
Chris
 
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C_Claycomb

Mod
Mod
Oct 6, 2003
5,838
911
Bedfordshire
In the UK, the silver birch suffers from idiots stripping bark and scarring the trees. Fallen trees, great, but newbies tend to have seen or read something about taking bark from standing trees and it not hurting the tree :rolleyes3:. Not here.

Also, for long term storage, I have found that birch bark is both bulky, and prone to becoming crushed and dusty as a result if carried for a long time. The fat wood is good in that it is dense and carries both compactly and durably. Other man-made or processed tinders can also be durable for long term carry. Most natural materials I have used are better for collecting for use that day, or maybe that week.
 

Robson Valley

Full Member
Nov 24, 2014
8,676
1,629
McBride, BC
Population density. Between the ears. Of course.

I incorrectly assumed that you peel some off firewood for the asking.
Birch here is such sweet wood that it all decomposes very rapidly in our wet* forests.
This leaves nearly indestructible tubes and shards of bark on the ground.

From what little time I have been able to enjoy in NYorks, I know exactly what I'd be doing.
Cut a handful of the resinous dead twigs in spruce or pine, as close to the main stem as possible.
Bash them to fiber with a couple of rocks. That plus the resin is quite flammable.
*8" rain and landslides since June 25.
 

Silverclaws2

Tenderfoot
Dec 30, 2019
72
39
52
Devon
In the UK, the silver birch suffers from idiots stripping bark and scarring the trees. Fallen trees, great, but newbies tend to have seen or read something about taking bark from standing trees and it not hurting the tree :rolleyes3:. Not here.

Also, for long term storage, I have found that birch bark is both bulky, and prone to becoming crushed and dusty as a result if carried for a long time. The fat wood is good in that it is dense and carries both compactly and durably. Other man-made or processed tinders can also be durable for long term carry. Most natural materials I have used are better for collecting for use that day, or maybe that week.

Alas, not many birch growing wild in my neck of 'the woods', one in a friend's garden of which I tapped for wine last year, but not much that I have seen growing wild, to need to consider other sources of useful tinder, of which I was taught to collect on mooching about, to dry out in one's pockets, for what's in ones pockets plus hair downy feather and pocket fluff to be useful tinder along with dry hawthorn micro twigs gathered from the trunks of live trees and dry fungus, oh and there's a pencil sharpener in my old fire tin.
 
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Yeah, my question specifically mentioned UK conditions as in usually damp to some degree or other, because ideally 'we' need to be fully capable on soggy days of which I guess is the real rest of improvised fire lighting.

As it is I have both old (flint and steel) and new (ferrocerium) methods , it's just I have not used these skills for a hell of a long time and I now find myself in the position of having to teach a newbie to it all. To have at least in the last hour discerned my pupil needs a softer ferrocerium rod than the one I have for advice on ferro rods to be my next question.

But thanks for the reply, thanks to all of you.
The other advantage of using flint, steel & tinderbox, besides it being sustainable, is that you learn far more about plant & fungi tinders, kindling & rocks. I taught my boys how to use flint, steel & tinderbox when they were about 4 years of age, & they still have their fire-bags. There is really no skill involved using modern fire lighting methods.
Keith.
 

Nice65

Full Member
Apr 16, 2009
4,839
1,452
55
W.Sussex
Game as I am for charcloth, fatwood, fine shavings etc, you could do worse than by one of these kits. Even the pencil sharpener for shaving the dowels is magnesium and can be scraped into swarf. Polymath sell on Amazon at £12.99 delivered, there’s a lot of value in the small tinderbox. No connection to the seller, I just like their innovative products. :)


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