Saturday, January 14, 2012

Trioxane - When All Else Fails...

I've decided to make January fire month! What an awesome name for a month. I love fire! In keeping with the theme for the month I am doing a short series on pre-made tinder. This is part 6.

In my last post on tender we looked at an all natural tender; fatwood. Today we are going to check out a tender that is anything but natural; Trioxane tablets. Trioxane tablets are made of a chemical compound containing trioxane and hexamine. They are very, very flammable.

When I was a boy we started all of our fires with Trioxane. Back then you could buy them at army surplus stores for super cheap. Once, while duck hunting, I fell through the ice of a frozen river. This was before cell phones, so I just had to wait until my dad came at our prearranged time to pick me up. I used a trioxine tablet to quickly start a fire. It kept me comfortable until my dad arrived to pick me up. They are harder to find today and fairly expensive, but are worth the effort to locate.

Tioxane tablets come wrapped in foil wrappers. Each wrapper contains one large tablet that can be broken up into three pieces. Each package can reliably start three fires. They start with even the weakest spark and burn for ten minutes or more. The fire from them is so hot it burns blue and can be hard to see.

There is no trick to using Troxane. Just apply a flame or spark. It is a common Internet myth that Trioxane tablets are 100% waterproof. They are not. They are water resistant. You can light them in the rain, perhaps even a downpour. However, if they are dunked in water for very long they will absorb the water and will never light.

Here is a video of my wet test:

A quick dunk doesn't faze it. However, if I had kept it under water for too much longer it would not have lit.

The next video shows how fast it catches with a spark:

Trioxane and other chemical fire starters are probably the easiest way to start a fire. They only have one drawback; they are relatively expensive. I don't recommend using them for every fire you build, but they are perfect for emergencies.

A note about other chemical fire starters:
It is tempting to buy a package of charcoal fire starters at your local hardware store. They are much less expensive than the chemical fire starters used by outdoorsmen. They also work almost just as well at starting fires. The problem with chemical fire starters designed for charcoal grills is that they give off a strong odor. Their odor will bleed into your clothing and gear. This is acceptable if you are just a hiker, but hunters should not use them. Nothing screams "Human!" like the smell of lighter fluid.

The fire starters that you can purchase from the links below are perfect for hunter.

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