What are the best non-store bought tinders

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Al88b

New Member
Apr 6, 2020
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Cheshire
What are the best tinders for transfering a spark from a fire stick into a flame on dry grass, at the moment i use kapok but i want to find something not store bought in uk terrain. Advice please
 

C_Claycomb

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Oct 6, 2003
6,252
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Bedfordshire
A "fire stick" meaning a ferrocerium rod (Light My Fire or similar)? If so, you can go to flame one of two ways, you can take the spark to an ember, and treat it like you would a flint and steel fire (ember extender, bundle of dry grass or buffed up bark and blow to flame), or you can go direct to flame using plant down, birch bark scrapings or fine wood shavings. Buffed honeysuckle bark and cherry bark will also work. With the right technique you can probably go straight to flame with dry grass leaves if packed together to the right density.

Of the plant downs in the UK, I think thistle is the best, it is easy to collect large quantities quickly takes a spark readily and will burn long enough to ignite other materials. Willowherb can work, but is harder to collect enough. Cattail will certainly take the spark, but I have found that it either flashes over too fast, or self extinguishes. Found it much better for an ember extender when wadded down tight. Never had any luck with clematis down.

Have a look for Neil1's video on ferro rod use.

Chris
 
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Robson Valley

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Nov 24, 2014
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Surface are to volume = the finer the fuzz, the better.
But that also means more surface area to absorb moisture in humid conditions.

Birch bark scrapings are the very best we have here.
The suberin wax in birch bark is hydrophobic and flammable. Bark held under water for 30 days lights up very nicely.
Since it can't be wetted, you needn't be very careful about carrying conditions.
 

C_Claycomb

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Oct 6, 2003
6,252
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Bedfordshire
Surface area to volume = the finer the fuzz, the better.
...

Until it is too fine, like cattail ;)

The thing about the natural oil is a very good point. When teaching and when you really want to get a fire going, cotton wool is best mixed with petroleum jelly, or have melted candle wax worked into it. The only other such natural material that I know of in the UK is the pine resin rich wood from some old stumps and pine knots (fat wood). Scrapings of that work very well too.

I bet that mixing dried powdered resin, or the sticky stuff from recent wounds into plant down would work well, but have not tried.

Chris
 
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Broch

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Jan 18, 2009
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Treat this as a great opportunity to find out - if you've got access to a walk anywhere at the moment gather stuff up and have a go with it. Scrape it, powder it, rough it up - try it with a flame first (if it won't burn it won't ignite) then a ferro rod spark (which is several times hotter than steel and flint; 2000C instead of 400C IIRC). It's all very well us telling you to use thistle down or reedmace seed but if there's none around it's no use to you. There's not a lot of seed head around just now (Still plenty of reedmace though). You need to find what you have available and try it. Experimenting is part of the fun of this topic (not to be applied to tasting wild plants though :)).

Remember, bark from fallen birch works just as well as a standing tree; you don't need to be taking bark of living trees.

You could also have a go at making charcloth - that will take a spark, create an ember, then with gentle wafting or blowing in a 'nest' will light dried grasses and the like.
 
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Robson Valley

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Nov 24, 2014
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I live in the Boreal Forest Biome = Taiga. Circumglobal, it is dominated by conifer vegetation forests.
As kids we were taught that the driest resinous twigs are always the ones sheltered in closest to the main tree trunk.
Of course, twigs off dead-falls are good if it hasn't rained for a while.

Then you have to bash those twigs with a rock (no shortage in the precambrian shield)to make a fibrous mat.
If you get lucky and find gobs of resin, add that to your bashings.
Point being that the fuzzy stuff will come up to ignition temperature far faster than any pieces of round wood.
BUT
You must get all the fire fixings = twigs and kindling, laid up before you begin.
The insides of round wood will be dry. Use some splittings and practice making feather sticks.

I've got a magnesium block with a ferro rod down one edge.
The magnesium metal shavings make great "spice" for fire starting.
With birch bark? 30 seconds is the best I can do.

Even just that, the very first step, is something everyone can practice in this day and time.
Takes a little practice, there are several methods, but fire-lighting is a skill you can be proud of.
 
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Suffolkrafter

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Dec 25, 2019
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Suffolk
I've been filling tinder bundles with dandelion seeds heads. They seem to work well. I will second clematis as being a poor choice, I've never managed with that either.
The other thing that I don't think has been mentioned is punkwood - dry rotten wood that has an almost spongy, springy feel to it. That takes a spark well and can also be charred.
 

rustybigend

Member
Aug 19, 2020
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Kettering
Don't forget red cedar bark. Scrape with a sharp rock or the back of your knife to collect a fibrous bird nest. Drop an ember in there from cramp balls or plant down and add to your dry grass
 

MartiniDave

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Aug 29, 2003
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Cambridgeshire
The above advice is all good. I would suggest whichever of it you take you need to spend lots of time practicing with the Ferro rod, to the extent you should be looking at wearing one out just practicing - don't worry, it's quite good fun once you get over the initial frustration!
If you look on You tube you will find a video by Mors Kochanski, which I think runs for about 90 minutes, in which he goes through different tinders for use with the Ferro rod. You will find it's 90 minutes very well spent.

Enjoy!

Dave
 
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