It’s alright getting to a local braai in the suburbs to find out that no one has matches or a lighter, you simply pop across to a convenience store and buy the necessary.
However a recent occurrence a bit further afield eventually necessitated us lighting a gas cooker with a ferro rod and setting some thin twigs on fire to allow us to start the braai.
Necessity is the mother of invention, but I am not going to sit with a bow and twigs trying to light a fire like my ancestors. Prevention is however better than cure, so I decided to come up with a fire starting kit with multiple options, which may seem like overkill, but could also be a bit of fun if you have kids around.
I wanted some backups in case something failed, such as an empty lighter or damp matches and I also wanted to keep the kit compact, safe and fuss free.
Now you can make firelighters by putting methylated spirits in a plastic jar and adding either dry used tea bags or wine corks, this works a treat but meths is highly flammable and dangerous around fires especially if there are children present.
One can also use cotton wool balls dipped into petroleum jelly or spirit jelly but they are a bit greasy and messy. So I decided to keep it simple:
- Start with a container. I like square or rectangular containers as they pack easily and tend to take up less space. To avoid problems with damp I opted for a clear plastic waterproof container.
- A small candle. This keeps a flame going once alight and also makes it possible to transfer a flame to other devices such as gas lights and cookers.
- Obviously, a box of matches and a small lighter.
- A fire steel or ferrocerium rod.
- A small knife to shave dry wood for kindling, you can also use a pencil sharpener to shave small dry twigs.
- Alternatively you can add in a small sealed packet of wood chips – the ‘bushcraft’ way is more fun with small children.
- Wives and girlfriends generally have round cotton pads or balls in their make up bags, in an emergency these can also be used as tinder.
- Waxed paper also burns nicely, so I have included a small folded section to use as tinder.
The lighter and matches are without doubt the easiest solution, however they don’t perform that well in wet and windy conditions so the other options are a great backup.
This is a fairly safe little kit, I have avoided flammable liquids such as benzine or methylated spirits but if space permitted I would add a survival lighter, they work much as a ferrocerium rod but the striker has a wick and is kept in a solution of lighter fluid in the lighter body, it’s well sealed and a good backup.
Hints or tips? Please feel free to share on www.allterrain.co.za.
And lastly never forget to have fire extinguishers on hand around the campsite!