#40 - Firestarters

Now that craziness has come to a lull (at least for now), I'm catching up on the blog thing :) I realized a bunch of things on my 2010 Bucket-list is now check-worthy, but haven't had the blog-worthy time for it. So we'll be working on that the next couple days, woot!

Finally got #40 done: Make a fire-starting kit with Jim Buller.

He's a really cool Outdoor Ed teacher who gave a presentation on a Sabbath afternoon last school-year. Prolly onna the best Sabbath afternoon activities I'd done that year, besides hang out with friends. We built fires a couple different ways and learned how to tell which direction North was just using a couple sticks and the sun...buncha other outdoor survival stuff too; total blast.


In any case, since then, I'd been on the prowl to make a firestarting kit with Mr. Buller for a year or so and finally we got a chance to sit down and make it. WOOT!

Basically, it consists of char cloth, a steel striker and flint. It all fits inside an Altoids tin too, so travel-size for rugged conveniency.

He had the striker but it was a bit big for the tin, so he cut it down...

He completely pimped it out though and added a nice leather divider so the char-cloth wouldn't gum up the striker.


Then he topped it off by giving me a piece of pitch-wood. Coolest stuff. When a tree dies, all its sap runs to the bottom and saturates the lower wood. He found a huge stump of it and gave this piece to me. I used a few shavings of it on the camp-out and it was amazing. Just sizzled and flamed up like nothing else.


For those of you wondering how it all works, first you have to make char cloth and herr's whatcha do:

~ This is made out of denim and is an excellent tinder. You actually make this char cloth in the Altoids tin (or a bigger one if you want to make more).

~You put little cut squares of denim in a tin that either has small holes already from a hinge (like mine), or you drill a hole through both the lid and bottom (like his).

~Close up the tin, and put it directly in the fire. After a bit, you'll see a stream of smoke/flame coming out of the hole. Wait until the smoke stops. (Takes about 10 minutes)

~ Take it out and let it cool and voila! These little guys can catch the tiny embers of your flint and steel. Some say you should plug the hole to let it cool...we didn't and it turned out fine, but plug it just to be safe.


You just hold the char cloth with the flint and strike it. It might take a few tries, but when you get it right, you'll get a nice little ember on that char cloth.

~ To build the fire using that ember, you just take a wad of dry tinder and put the ember in the middle of it and start slowly blowing on it. It'll catch like you wouldn't believe. Drop it down and start putting your already-prepared little twigs and sticks on it and seriously, 5 minutes later you've got an awesome little flame going.

The instructions for making char-cloth are to give you the basic idea. If you want more in-depth directions, here is a great step-by-step process written by Jeff Hamilton. Clear photo-direction as well.

As for me, yeeeaahhh, it's gonna take a bit more practice to get the striking right...I tried it on a camping trip...no go. I did it before, so I know it's possible, lol, and I could get sparks, but I'm thinking I wanna try to find a bigger piece of flint...or at least hone in the skill, because I more or less ended up using one of those kitchen gas lighters to get our fire started. How epic right? Lol whatever works.

In any case, cheers for #40! Thanks to Mr. Buller, Check!