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durulz

Need to contact Admin...
Jun 9, 2008
1,755
0
Elsewhere
Here's a dilemma I often find myself in. Wonder what you all think.
Now, I love the whole bushcraft thing (a term that still forces a wry smle on my face). I like the idea of practising self-sufficient skills that mean I can look after myself if left high and dry in an environment (temperate, preferably).
But here's a thing: fire.
At my core, if I am to be honest, I feel the only felicitous thing to do is to be able to make a fire from what you find available to you. But I can't do that. God knows I have tried, but I can't. So I, like the vast majority (I suspect), take with me a fire steel and vaseline coated cotton wool. Ignites like a treat.
Because I haven't used a lighter I tell myself that I have practised a skill. Starting a fire with a lighter seems infelicitous (if I find myself in schtum I may not have a lighter to hand).
But that's nonsense, isn't it? What's the difference between starting a fire with a prepared medium (cotton wool) and a shop bought product (fire steel) and starting a fire with a lighter?
None, to be honest. Does anyone else see that irony?
So my question is this: what do you use to start a fire, and why?
 

Tadpole

Full Member
Nov 12, 2005
2,842
20
56
Bristol
Here's a dilemma I often find myself in. Wonder what you all think.
Now, I love the whole bushcraft thing (a term that still forces a wry smle on my face). I like the idea of practising self-sufficient skills that mean I can look after myself if left high and dry in an environment (temperate, preferably).
But here's a thing: fire.
At my core, if I am to be honest, I feel the only felicitous thing to do is to be able to make a fire from what you find available to you. But I can't do that. God knows I have tried, but I can't. So I, like the vast majority (I suspect), take with me a fire steel and vaseline coated cotton wool. Ignites like a treat.
Because I haven't used a lighter I tell myself that I have practised a skill. Starting a fire with a lighter seems infelicitous (if I find myself in schtum I may not have a lighter to hand).
But that's nonsense, isn't it? What's the difference between starting a fire with a prepared medium (cotton wool) and a shop bought product (fire steel) and starting a fire with a lighter?
None, to be honest. Does anyone else see that irony?
So my question is this: what do you use to start a fire, and why?
Me,I use flint and steel, char-cloth and feathered sticks. I even use flint and steel to light my trangia.

Only once in the past year have I cheated and used a ferro rod to light a fire, and that was late on the first day at the bushmoot, when tempers and approaching darkeness meant the quicker the tea was on the less likely my wife was going to kill me with my own axe
 

dommyracer

New Member
May 26, 2006
1,312
7
42
London
I often take a lighter, but often use the firesteel - just to 'keep my eye in' so to speak.

Lighters run out, flints break, they get wet...Firesteel is always round my neck. I also use it to light the Trangia, means I can be further away when it lights.
 

Andy2112

On a new journey
Jan 4, 2007
1,874
0
West Midlands
I can see your point Durulz, i use both my lighter and ferro rod, the ferro rod especially to light my trangia.

The achievement by lighting a fire by bow drill must be imense so i suppose that's why we do it, but to light a fire quick sharpish it's whatevers the quickest/simplist method IMO.
 

dommyracer

New Member
May 26, 2006
1,312
7
42
London
I often take a lighter, but often use the firesteel - just to 'keep my eye in' so to speak.

Lighters run out, flints break, they get wet...Firesteel is always round my neck. I also use it to light the Trangia, means I can be further away when it lights.
 

gregorach

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Sep 15, 2005
3,723
26
47
Edinburgh
I like to use the firesteel so that I can keep my lighter for real survival emergencies - like lighting cigarettes! ;) Also, you can light a meths stove with a firesteel without burning your fingers...
 

AJB

Native
Oct 2, 2004
1,821
8
52
Lancashire
Hey Durulz,

I could have written the very same thing, I too have pondered the paradox of taking pre-prepared C21 perfect tinder and lighting it with less than the most modern technique.

Surely, to be a purest, one should source both tinder and fire lighting equipment from the local you’re in. But then that’s not what our forefathers did, they sourced the best technology available, from wherever they could find it. I guess it’s all about what gives you the most pleasure, interests you most, or which section of pyrotechnical evolution you buy into. As (and I’m prepared to be lambasted on this) to light a fire using equipment which is anything but the most efficient, unless you have none and have fashioned it from materials around you in an actual “survival” situation, is all about setting yourself challenges of mastering traditional techniques for the pure fun of it.

As long as you’re enjoying yourself, don’t worry about it!
 

John Fenna

Lifetime Member & Maker
Oct 7, 2006
21,746
1,201
62
Pembrokeshire
Home made flint/steel/charcloth is my first choice, bowdrill if I have time and want to show off, ferro for year round efficiency, lighter if I have to.....:D
 

IntrepidStu

Settler
Apr 14, 2008
807
0
Manchester
We learn these traditional skills so we are able to light a fire in a situation where we DONT HAVE OTHER MEANS. This does not mean that we should not use modern technology: Once learned, we have a CHOICE of methods to use.

Dont beat yourself up. The best firestarters here probably use modern techniques when able.

Stu
 

IntrepidStu

Settler
Apr 14, 2008
807
0
Manchester
Hey Durulz,

I could have written the very same thing, I too have pondered the paradox of taking pre-prepared C21 perfect tinder and lighting it with less than the most modern technique.

Surely, to be a purest, one should source both tinder and fire lighting equipment from the local you’re in. But then that’s not what our forefathers did, they sourced the best technology available, from wherever they could find it. I guess it’s all about what gives you the most pleasure, interests you most, or which section of pyrotechnical evolution you buy into. As (and I’m prepared to be lambasted on this) to light a fire using equipment which is anything but the most efficient, unless you have none and have fashioned it from materials around you in an actual “survival” situation, is all about setting yourself challenges of mastering traditional techniques for the pure fun of it.

As long as you’re enjoying yourself, don’t worry about it!
Well said. Whats C21?????????
 

durulz

Need to contact Admin...
Jun 9, 2008
1,755
0
Elsewhere
I did notice, with interest, that in his latest series even the Great Mears started a fire with a lighter...
I honestly don't beat myself up over this, just wondered how you all feel and if anyone else is aware of the occasional irony in what we do.
 

Wayland

Hárbarðr
I demonstrate ancient skills for a living, so for that I use skills such as flint and steel because I need a reliable method that works in under 30 seconds.

For some jobs it actually works a lot better than modern methods but it is a bit more cumbersome.

When camping I simply use which ever method gets the job done.

I have used many different methods and succeeded with most so in a survival situation I feel I might be reasonably prepared but I would still prefer to make sure I have some dry matches with me.

I'm not sure I see any irony in it. :dunno:
 

Tripitaka

Nomad
Apr 13, 2008
304
0
Vancouver Island, BC.
I do see the irony - the real skill would be in fashioning a bow-drill from natural materials, then making fire with it. Of course, you couldn't use your knife or other modern equipment to make the bow-dril... ;-)

So, we practice the skills as a challenge I guess.

What I use depends on the situation. For instance, at the moot I used a lighter and some firelighter blocks. It seemed to amuse the chap at the damp firelighting workshop when he asked what we had used to start our fires!

Mark.
 

saddle_tramp

Need to contact Admin...
Jul 13, 2008
605
0
West Cornwall
id have to say it depends

I reckon about 90 percent of the fires i light are short lived cooking fires. theyre lit cos im hungry or i want a brew, so its a fag lighter and any wrappers or rubbish in my pockets to get them going.

But i pretty much always got a strikalight, some flint and tinder on me, and if im in no rush then its a much more satisfying way to light a fire. But its cos of my interest in old skills, not cos i see it as the most practical method
 

firecrest

Full Member
Mar 16, 2008
2,496
3
uk
Lighter. And its not cheating! Im learning other techniques but I learn them at times when Im not in need of a fire. (well I cant wait round for my skills to evolve when I need a brew!)
Besides, there is as much skill in fire management as their is in lighting it in the first place, and there is no technology available for that, just knowledge.
 

mazeman

Forager
Jun 7, 2007
221
0
Porthmadog, Gwynedd
Strikes me that there is little difference between any method. A lighter and whatever you have is handy, a firesteel with cotton wool/vaseline is fun, a striker with flint and charcloth is wonderfully retro, a bowdrill is immensely satisfying, a handrill is the paragon of skill in these climes, etc etc. I personally love the novelty of the fire piston as there is something magical about lighting a fire with hot air! But all these methods are equal in that they require some equipment and a measure of preparation. If it's about making a fire because one's needed, then whatever works is good. But our relationship with fire is at the core of our journey as humans, it's what makes us a different animal to the rest. When we explore that relationship we get to know ourselves better and our knowledge and uderstanding of the natural world flourishes too. There's magic to be found in every method.
But to paraphrase Firecrest, I'm happy to use whatever gets me that mug of tea.
 

shaggystu

Full Member
Nov 10, 2003
4,345
30
Derbyshire
zippo, for lots of reasons. it lights first time every time (well that's what the leaflet in the box said anyway!) it's a really nice and easy way of carrying some top quality tinder in my pocket (cotton wool soaked in petrol really does take a spark!) it uses the same fuel as my stove, and it's a big heavy lump of brass that's kept in a case and clipped to my belt with a lanyard (lovely word) so it's really quite difficult to lose.
probably 90% of my firelighting's done with the zippo. i also carry a ferro rod for practice/emergency, i'll use the ferro rod and natural tinders when i've got time to spare, just to keep my eye so to speak, if i just want to get something lit in a hurry i'll use the zippo

i'm a smoker, i light roughly 10 fires a day, every day, i think i'd get slightly peeved if i had to light them all with a ferro rod. as swmbo clearly pointed out though, if i was to go camping for a week or so with no lighter or matches i'd either stop smoking or perfect the bow drill in no time at all! it's all about the proper motivation!

stuart
 

crazyclimber

Need to contact Admin...
Jul 20, 2007
571
0
UK / Qatar
Depends completely on my mood, mostly it's a flint (ferro) and steel (knife), for a quick brew where I'm being lazy I'll use a lighter, if I've got time on my hands I'll go for a bow drill. I never feel guilty about using a lighter though; in the end I do it all for fun and that includes being outside in the first place. Far more efficient would be to just stick the kettle on!

PS was it just me that read the title and thought 'god no, another terrorist attack in London'?!