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Firesteels, the reality...

Discussion in 'Gear Reviews' started by francis castiglione, Oct 19, 2008.

  1. panzer

    panzer Loaded Pockets

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    what are you cutting your shavings off with? A small hacksaw blade works well for scraping and is easier on your knife blade.
     
  2. moonshinematt

    moonshinematt Empty Pockets

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    WELL MAN, THERE ARE TWO STYLES OF FIRESTEEL THAT ARE SIMILAR. THE SWEDISH FIRE STEEL AND ONE THAT LOOKS SIMILAR-THE STEEL MATCH! YOU WANT THE STEEL MATCH~HAS THE SAME KEY LOOK EXCEPT IT ACTUALLY STARTS FIRES.. AND THEY ARE WAY CHEEPER~LIKE 2.99 :evil:
     
  3. Pantex

    Pantex Empty Pockets

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    My EDC fire steel has a handle that is a capsule w/ o-ring cap. An idea I got from here at EDC. In that capsule is medicated oiled cotton. One spark and fire ! A little oiled cotton goes a long way and does double duty to treat a nasty scratch as well.

    Key post made here is practice your skills at home before ya need it in a cold wet and windy environment ......
     
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  4. GregGates

    GregGates Empty Pockets

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    Big Yin, check out one of these at Ace Hardware or Lowe's.

    http://www.acehardwareoutlet.com/(vidwllnsw102wkj2tb2q4p55)/ProductDetails.aspx?SKU=7164619

    They are supposedly one of the best strikers and have a carbide tip. Very rugged and also curl the magnesium off a Doan bar easily. My personal technique with the doan tool is to hold the knife stationary upside down on a table and drag the magnesium over it (perpendicular fashion, basically no angle like you are making a cross).

    What I do is buy one of those cheapo orange Coghlan's waterproof match cases and scrape off an entire container full of magnesium at home. Compress it along the way like making room in a garbage can full of leaves. At the top I put in 4 tinder quick tabs. This way if I am out in the cold or it's wet I don't need to fumble with the scraping and I can just sprinkle out some shavings and get going. This is a bit more to carry but the weight is very light and you could probably stick a ferro rod and striker inside the vial if you didn't compress it as much.
     
  5. r-ice
    • In Omnia Paratus

    r-ice Loaded Pockets

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    get a fire piston! nice and simple
     
  6. BIG YIN

    BIG YIN Empty Pockets

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    Who woulda thunk duct tape for holding shavings. I'm going to try that for sure, and yes on the duct tape. I have a small piece of hacksaw blade attached to my mag bar to strike a spark but going to try shaving with it. I'm also going to try the tool sharpener. I LOVE THIS FORUM. THANKS GUYS
     
  7. AJ Dual

    AJ Dual Loaded Pockets

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    Also, just make some larger, longer shavings that are heavier, and they don't blow away as easily.

    I find scraping with the back or spine of the knife blade works well to produce shavings, and obviously does not hurt the edge.
     
  8. brparris

    brparris Loaded Pockets

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    Tinder preparation is the key regardless of what technique you use to ignite it. Open flame from a lighter is easier than a spark rod, but still, the efficiency with which you get a fire going with either depends on how good you are doing your tinder preparation. Fine and dry is what you want, regardless of whether it's natural tinder or something you bring in. If you were freezing and had a lighter, you'd still want to make sure you tinder was well prepped before trying to light it. :lolhammer:

    If I'm using a magnesium bar type fire starter, I use a small dry cupped leaf or carve a small bowl into a piece of wood to hold the shavings. I typically have a multi-tool with me and the file on the multi-tool makes quick work of shaving off fine magnesium particles that light easily. Though I typically just use a spark rod and prep my tinder well.
     
  9. Splat

    Splat Loaded Pockets

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    Just bring a flare fun. ;) :D
     
  10. Mark123

    Mark123 Empty Pockets

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    Yeah, some type of prepared tinder is the key-vaseline/cotton, lint, alcohol pad, etc...I was able to start a fire with a firesteel using a small bit of vaseline/cotton and collected tinder in wet, cold snowy conditions.

    I recently purchased and carry a micro firesteel in my wallet, available from Ron Hood on his website. I need to go out and test it some time.
     
  11. madkins007

    madkins007 Loaded Pockets

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    Yeah, yeah, yeah :) ... if you have a fire-starting kit with you with a hot fire source and prepped tinder, you can start a fire in cold, wet, rainly conditions- which can make a real difference in a life-or-death situation...

    But if you are at all likely to be caught in this sort of thing, it is a lot better to depend on knowledge and practice than on tools. I can come up with a dozen scenarios in which your kit is not available. I think that a fire steel or magnesium bar, or even a wallet Fresnel lens, is a something you should keep with you at all times and that cannot break, wear out, run out of fuel, rust, or stop working if it gets wet. Personally, my matches have gone to pot, my lighters gone dry, my sparkers broke, etc. in real field conditions- but my stupid little Boy Scout Hot Spark $3 tool (http://www.scoutstuff.org/BSASupply/ItemDetail.aspx?cat=01RTL&ctgy=PRODUCTS&c2=CAMPING&C3=CCOOKING&C4=&LV=3&item=01167&prodid=01167^8^01RTL&) has never failed me.

    As a Scout and a Scout leader, one of the more fun things we did was to take our survival kits out for a test drive every so often- start a fire, make a shelter, cook a meal, collect water (by the way- water is a real trick, too!), etc. As an instructor, it was easy to tell who was going to get their fires lit using sparking tools, batteries and steel wool, magnifiers, etc.

    It all depended on their tinder ball. Making wood shavings? You'll get really tired waiting for that them to light- too thick. Good tinder balls are light and fluffy- rodent nests, frayed plant fibers, cottony or wooly fibers or lint, pounded out fibers from dry sticks, shaved inner bark, etc. Stick in some tiny sticks help keep the fire going, and be sure to a.) have some back up tinder balls, and b.) have lots of really small and other sizes of wood ready because Murphy's Law really loves to mess with this stuff!
     
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  12. ReadyFreddy23

    ReadyFreddy23 Loaded Pockets

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    Be very careful with the magnesium shavings. In the solid form they are stable. When shaved, they are highly flammable and may be able to ignite inside the cheapo orange waterproof match case. Personally, I wouldn't risk carrying magnesium shavings. Definitely don't stick a ferro rod and striker in the same container. The ferro rod and striker could bump around and cause a spark.
     
  13. bigfoot

    bigfoot Loaded Pockets

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    Practice makes perfect. On a camping trip to the coast I decided to try out my new Swedish firesteel. Of course there was not a single piece of dry wood around, and all I had was a roll of paper towels, some old newspaper, and the firewood sold by the campground host. After about ten minutes I gave up, broke out the lighter, and got the fire going. Oh, and we didn't have many paper towels left at that point. :evilgrin:

    Les and Bear make it look easy!
     
  14. r-ice
    • In Omnia Paratus

    r-ice Loaded Pockets

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    maybe im not using the proper vasaline to pour on the cotton but I don't find that it works for me!!??
     
  15. GregGates

    GregGates Empty Pockets

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    Good mention. Though, they still need a very hot spark to touch off right? I tried holding a lighter flame to some on a piece of paper and only the tiny powder dust flashed and ignited. As far as I know pocket heat or a hot pack in the sun shouldn't be enough to set them off? I probably would never keep a striker inside just due to size reasons, though I still could see leaving a ferro rod inside. Magnesium seems like a touchy thing such that when you really really need it you might not have the hand dexterity to shave it easily.
     
  16. Brangdon

    Brangdon Loaded Pockets

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    I don't think it's really possible to ignite vasaline with a spark. The vasaline helps keep water out, and mostly acts as a fuel with the cotton wool acting like a candle wick. Wax can work as well or better than vasaline, and it's dryer. When it comes to igniting it, you need to scrape the vasaline off a bit, or find a bit from the core that is dry.

    That's my experience anyway. If you have a really good quality thick ferro rod that makes big hot sparks you might do better.
     
  17. Timbokhan

    Timbokhan Loaded Pockets

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    The key, as has been repeated, is know how to use your gear beforehand. Your review of the firesteel is based off of trying to start a fire in the woods, while tired, for the first time. Not exactly a fair review, right? Les and Bear make it look easy because it IS easy, provided you have practiced and understand how to do it. These things do work, but they aren't magical.

    That being said, of course you should carry a lighter. They are cheap, light, and indispensable. I can start a fire with magnesium and tinder (and I put in the practice to learn the skill), but I prefer to start it with a lighter. This is one of those things that falls under the old survival "Rule of Threes", I think: Lighter, matches, magnesium/firestell/blastmatch/etc... Carry all three, and depend on them in that order. Unless your a hardcore ultra-lite hiker, the weight and space cost is going to be virtually nil while the upside is potentially lifesaving.
     
  18. liquidsunshine

    liquidsunshine Loaded Pockets

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    Hi,

    not sure if anyone else does that - my preferred tinder is cotton with vaseline. It packs tight, burns long, and is completely safe.

    I fluff up cotton and very thoroughly mix and knead it through with vaseline. Then I pack it tight and take all excess vaseline away - the remaining is about the right amount. You want the fibres to be "coated" in vaseline, so to speak - just to describe the amount, not literally.

    Vaseline doesn't light from a spark - but mixed with cotton this way, and if you fluff up the cotton-vaseline-mix again before you light it, it works very well, and then the cotton works as a wick for the liquid vaseline, and the whole thing burns much longer than just the cotton would.

    Now if you try to mix vaseline into cotton balls, you'll realise that doesn't quite work because the cotton is treated. A common source of untreated high quality cotton are many types of tampons - pluck one apart and you have what you are looking for. Others are made of viscose fibres - not sure about the effect of these. Just try before you pack it away in your survival kit.

    Cheers,

    Matt
     
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  19. curlyfry562

    curlyfry562 Loaded Pockets

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    This is why I stick with the good old piece of magnesium with the flint embedded in it. The first time I used it I was wearing gloves it was pitch black outside and I was lighting a McDonald's bag, I was also rushing. 30 sec. later we had fire. Stick to the basics. O0

    Yes I do own firesteel as well.
     
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  20. MacGnG

    MacGnG Loaded Pockets

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    i had a blastmatch which was AWESOME to use and really easy. i let someone else use it and they broke it :( fast forward many years and i bought the magnesium block / flint block from walmart for like 4 bucks and works great with an old knife i found laying around the house

    Cheap and it works: http://www.camping-survival.net/images/fire-starter.gif