I've decided to make January fire month! What an awesome name for a month. I love fire! This is the second post in a series on ignition sources.
You cannot make fire without an ignition source. For the next few posts I am going to highlight the most popular ignition sources. I will also review a few fire making tools, show you some novel ways to make fire, and give tips for using all of them.
Go to a camping store. In the section devoted to fire starting you will probably find some waterproof matches, maybe a windproof lighter, if it is well stocked you may see a firesteel. One item you will almost definitely find is a magnesium fire starter. It's that silver block.
These fire starters have been a mainstay for years. My dad used one as a kid. I've found lots of places selling them on the web that claim they are "government issue". I cannot find any evidence that the government ever actually issued them, although it would not surprise me.
They are simply a block of magnesium with a small ferrocerium rod attached to one side. Magnesium shavings light at a fairly low temperature, about 880 degrees Fahrenheit, and burns hot at 5,600 degrees Fahrenheit. The idea is to shave off a small pile of magnesium and then light it with sparks from the ferrocerium rod.
The magnesium fire starter I purchased was made by Coghlan. These are the most common. Many people make them. While I could not find any details, I suspect that some manufacturers use a higher quality of magnesium than other. Why do I say this? Because the Coghlan magnesium fire starter was almost impossible to light, but I have seen videos online of people starting a fire right away with other brands. It seems that the company "Doan" has the best reputation.
The problem with all magnesium firestarters is getting the shavings off the bar. You are supposed to use your knife blade a whittle off tiny slivers of magnesium. This is increadably hard and time consuming. In a survival situation it would be very difficult. I worked for about fifteen minutes and only got a pile about half the size of a dime. I ended up taking my drill press to it so I would have enough shavings for a demonstration! Drilling through the magnesium was, no joke, as hard as drilling through soft steel.
|I gave up and used a drill|
After I got enough shavings I piled them together and tried to light them. First, let me say that gathering the shaving was difficult. They would blow away like dust with the slightest wind. Also, they were so small the fell into every crack and crevice. They are not an ideal medium.
The ferrocerium rod worked great. I'm sure I could make a fire with just it, ignoring the magnesium. Here is a video of the process:
Hey! Do you like The Unlucky Hunter? Want to let other people know about it and help us out? The best way to do this is to click the "submit to reddit" button at the top of the page, or the StumbleUpon button below! You can even click the facebook or Twitter buttons below to share it on your wall or tweet it to your followers!