Fire Starters

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Fire Starters

Fire starters are a crucial part of survival in the wilderness whether they're used for warmth, cooking food, or even protection. It is recommended to have no less than five methods of starting a fire when hiking for long periods of time. However, casual and recreational camping requires two: one primary method and a backup.

How do fire starters work?

They are designed to be both portable and functional. They are usually designed to start a fire without matches or lighters. Fire starters come in many shapes and sizes and rely on various methods to determine their design. The most common fire starters are:

  • Wood friction: Bow drills, hand drills, plows, and fire saws are just a few tools that use this method
  • Flint and steel: This is the most common type. Flint and steel usually come in a compact kit for easy storage. This style is one of the most popular choices among outdoor enthusiasts.
  • Fire piston: This type uses a hollow cylinder and a rod that fits perfectly into the cylinder. Tinder is placed in the tube and the rod is rapidly depressed. The friction heats the tinder to start a fire.
  • Lenses: This method is very affordable and compact. Simply use a lens to magnify the sun's light onto your kindling. Balloons can make good lenses. However, this method is weather dependent.
  • Battery and steel wool: This technique is very easy. Simply touch a 9-volt battery’s contact points to steel wool and put in your kindling. The wool will not produce a flame, so dry kindling and strong lungs are required.
What fire starter should I choose?

The fire starter you need depends on the situation. There are many types with many features. If you like old-world and primitive things, you may like the bow drill or plow. If you like instant results, the battery and steel wool method may be for you. Fire pistons and flint and steel kits are the common choices among backpackers because of their reliability and portable nature. Whichever type you decide on, it’s best to have at least one other backup method and a pack of matches.

Who uses fire starters?

Primarily, those who find themselves in outdoor and/or emergency situations may rely on fire starters. They are heavily used by campers, hikers, park rangers, firemen, and emergency service technicians. They are an integral part of any disaster kit for hurricanes, earthquakes, snow storms, and power outages.