Frontier Fire Starter Kit

This tip came from a friend, a woodsman and war reenactor. Works amazingly well, but takes some prep. You should prepare this fire starter kit before you have to rely upon it off the beaten track. You may also want to keep the kit in a waterproof pouch or ziplock baggie when backpacking, just in case.

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Supplies:

Steps:

  1. Take an Altoids tin and punch a small hole into the side of the lower half with a small screwdriver or awl. The hole shouldn't be more than a couple millimeters across, less than an 8th of an inch.
  2. Cut strips of cloth, such as denim, about 2 inches long and an inch wide, layer them into the tin and close it. Do not use synthetic material; organic, vegetable fibre cloth only! Cotton does the job well, and light denim is perfect for the job.
  3. Build a medium-small fire around the box and light it. Let the fire burn down to coal with the box sitting in the coals until the fire is completely out. Recover the box. Inside should be the cloth, but it will now be completely black, looking like charcoal. This is called "charcloth." In the same fire, burn your belt buckle to demagnetize it. The trick will not work with a regular, even slightly magnetized hunk of steel.
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  5. Set up a kindling fire with plenty of dry starter material in the center. Remember to allow your fire to have plenty of air flow from the non-windy side. Using your small flint stone and the demagnetized belt buckle, wrap the cloth around the flint and strike through it with the steel. In a few strikes, a spark will catch in the cloth. You will see a small grey dot appear when it does. This is an ember.
  6. Swiftly take the cloth off the flint and loosely wrap some frayed jute or dry bark shavings around it. Blow softly. Your starter material should catch fire swiftly. Place it into your kindling and away you go. When doing this step, make sure you are close to your kindling, since your starter material will burn quickly.

You may want to practice this technique before having to rely on it. It takes some setup, but all your tools can fit into the Altoids tin and travel with you as a "frontier" fire starter kit.

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