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Firesteels, the reality...

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

  1. jzmtl

    jzmtl Loaded Pockets

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    You'll need to rip them up first but they work.
     
  2. toddtheknifegeek

    toddtheknifegeek Loaded Pockets

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    Practice practice practice and proper prep. If I prep it right, my 6 year old son can have a fire going in a couple of strikes with a firesteel. Of course that's how we start all our fires, so we have had lots of practice. And he is into that sort of thing. Hunting for natural tinder is a bit of a challenge, as we live in a small town. We need to get to the woods more to work on that. One cotton ball, some slivers of sticks, don't get excited with piling on the big stuff. He is trying to master actual flint and steel. I keep meaning to make him some char cloth, but I haven't had time.
     
  3. tsacain

    tsacain Loaded Pockets

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    When I used to go camping :)censored: being responsible and doing full time work and college) I would carry my zippo and a bag of steel wool. I would also keep a 9volt battery in my pack (the little radio I had used it) If you take some steel wool and touch the 9volt battery to it the steel wool will catch fire. That was always a backup if I ran out of lighter fluid.
     
  4. IROCKID

    IROCKID Loaded Pockets

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    Well, my friend swears by waxed paper.. it, like the rubber inner tube and some others, will light when wet....the inner tube needs a flame to ingnite, the wax paper doesn't...
    Wax paper folds very flat and takes up almost NO room, it doesn't leak.....or rust like steel wool...it's cheap....as far as I know it has no shelf life issues....

    I haven't personally used it yet, but he's a guy that goes into the forest A LOT with just a MaxPed Jumbo on his side and will stay out for DAYS at a time...very minimalist...

    It makes sense in theory...wax around a paper wick....mini candle if you ask me..

    Oh and check out Ray Mears....I don't think his camera crew helps him with :censored:.
     
  5. kiko2704

    kiko2704 Empty Pockets

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    The problem of the firesteels is not just the tinder. You need alot of training to learn to start fire with this tool without prepared tinder.
     
  6. bigfoot

    bigfoot Loaded Pockets

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    Spent a little more time in the backyard this morning practicing with various firesteels, as well as PJ cotton balls for tinder. Weather was damp, cold, and a slight breeze. Just for giggles I put on a pair of liner gloves and tried each firesteel / firestarter in my modest collection.

    The UST StrikeForce and BlastMatch were the easiest to use with gloves on. This was followed by the Light My Fire type steels, both the Army and Scout models, along with the Horseshoe Mountain Key Ring model. Last up was the Spark-Lite and BSA Hot Spark. This highly un-scientific test is probably no big surprise, but the bigger the firesteel, the easier to use with gloves on. I can see the StrikeForce or BlastMatch definitely going into my backpack for the winter months.

    Also, I wanted to mention that the Light My Fire "Mini" model should be tested if in your collection. I have a few and one of them broke on the second or third strike, brand new. The firesteel rod completely separated from the handle, and it doesn't appear there was any glue or epoxy holding it in. A quick e-mail to LMF got a replacement sent my way, but still... be careful.
     
  7. Jaygnar99

    Jaygnar99 Empty Pockets

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    I have used my light my fire firesteel to make fires after days of rain. The key is practice patience and training. It takes a LOT of preparation to get a fire going with a firesteel. You need plenty of tinder and small fuel. Leaves are crap, use grasses or split dead wood to get to the dry heart then scrape the dry wood across your knife blade to produce a superfine sawdust. You will need a lot,It will take a long time. you need to prepare a place to build your fire that is out of the rain. The idea is that it's training for a survival situation. Failure is to die. The lighter is easier by far. Firesteels are a pain in the butt, but they are more rugged and durable. Don't blame good gear for your failures. Get gear that you can use or learn to master the gear you have. Discipline and determination are required.
     
    Barrel likes this.
  8. Andy Wayne

    Andy Wayne Loaded Pockets

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    I never have problems with firesteels. I like to use them, and practiced at every opportunity rather than use a lighter. Whenever I'd have a cookout, bonfire, fireplace fire, or whatever, I'd practice using a firesteel. I usually use a dry cotton ball, a finger size piece of fatwood, and regular sticks. Here's some examples:

    For this particular cookout, I also had an Altoids tin of fatwood shavings. I made the shavings with a razor knife. I usually prepare the wood for the fire by having the handfuls of wood of various sizes. The smallest size is smaller than a pencil, medium size is finger size or smaller, larger size is bigger than finger size.
    [​IMG]

    Bottom of the grill. I use a larger size for a brace, and fluff out the cotton ball next to it. I take the finger size piece of fatwood a split it as small as I easily can. This particular time, I sprinkled some fatwood shavings on the cotton. One strike and I usually have it going. Once the fatwood ignites, I slowly add the wood in increasing size as not to smother the fire.
    [​IMG]

    Zoomed out pic showing the larger wood ready next to the grill.
    [​IMG]

    So far my Strike Force is my favorite firesteel. I attached a jumbo stainless steel waterproof pill fob to it. Inside I was able to cram 7 dry jumbo cotton balls. That way I have a tinder source with it. It also has the tinder that came with it inside, but I've never used it. I usually attach a finger length piece of fatwood to the side with a rubber band so I have some fatwood with it. The rubber band can also be used as a firestarter.
    [​IMG]

    Here I attempted to ignite the dry shredded inner bark from a tree using nothing but the firesteel.
    [​IMG]

    Success!
    [​IMG]

    I don't just practice in nice weather either. Here's a pic of my yard on a cold snowy day.
    [img width=640 height=480]http://i6.photobucket.com/albums/y209/andywayne/My%20Pics/12-05-07/12-05-07-1.jpg[/img]

    My backyard firepit (deuce and a half wheel) and yard chair as I found them.
    [img width=640 height=480]http://i6.photobucket.com/albums/y209/andywayne/My%20Pics/12-05-07/12-05-07-24.jpg[/img]

    Some quick wood gathering and brusing off of the snow...
    [img width=640 height=480]http://i6.photobucket.com/albums/y209/andywayne/My%20Pics/12-05-07/12-05-07-26.jpg[/img]

    Bottom of the firepit, prior to igniting with the Strike Force. The cotton is dry, the small wood is fatwood, the brace is mulberry.
    [​IMG]

    Ignition!
    [img width=640 height=480]http://i6.photobucket.com/albums/y209/andywayne/My%20Pics/12-05-07/12-05-07-28.jpg[/img]

    View of neighbor's field to my North.
    [img width=640 height=480]http://i6.photobucket.com/albums/y209/andywayne/My%20Pics/12-05-07/12-05-07-29.jpg[/img]

    Me warming up, facing West.
    [img width=640 height=480]http://i6.photobucket.com/albums/y209/andywayne/My%20Pics/12-05-07/12-05-07-32.jpg[/img]

    As you can see, with practice, you can even start a fire with a firesteel, dry cotton, and wood in the snow. The smallest firesteel I've used successfully was the flint rod of a blowtorch igniter with some fine shavings. Practice!
     
  9. solocanoe

    solocanoe Empty Pockets

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    Andy, those are AWESOME pics! ;D
    It's great to see the panoramic view without houses, cars, or people - my favorite horizons! :smitten:

    If dry works for you, great. I use the same key fob pill case on my survival necklace (on me whenver I'm camping/canoeing - and in my edc stuff every day) I managed to get 5 cotton balls with petroleum jelly rubbed into them into the pill fob/case. advantage is the flaming cotton ball lasts longer (couple minutes) and will actually flame while floating in water...if you want to try it....but you got a great system there too- congrats!

    this thread is full of lots of cool ideas - no reason everyone can't pick a few things to try - hey it's a great reason to BBQ and watch some playoff games this weekend after you light your own fire with a firesteel! :roof:
     
  10. jehan60188

    jehan60188 Loaded Pockets

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    i have no trouble starting a fire with it in the comfort of my kitchen, using prepped tinder
    i also shoot great groups at 15 yds, at the range
    i can hike all day, if I have enough to eat

    survival gear/training should be done in a survival environment. thanks for reminding us of this! it's a good thing you tested it while you had a backup (always have a backup if it's your first time trying something!)
     
  11. BCountryTrekker

    BCountryTrekker Loaded Pockets

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    :roof: IMHO - Firesteel is the ultimate reality. :roof:

    If I am lighting a fire in my yard, I can easily go in the house and get a different firestarting source. No big deal. :doh:

    Things change as you get further away from home. You can always ask the campground host for a match at the campground. You can always give up on the campfire and retire to your heated RV on a cold night at a remote campground. But when your raft flipped on a cold river six miles from your truck and the sun is below the mountain ridge and you NEED to build a fire to survive. :yikes:

    What do you want?

    :popcorn:
    We probably all agree that a bic lighter (or equivalent) is the easiest path to fire. It is compact and can be operated with one hand. But it can run out of fuel, the flint can jam, etc. :shocked:

    Matches, steel wool/battery, etc. all work too. And can fail. :thumbsdown:

    The firesteel, however, always produces sparks that can start a fire, period. Firesteels are a little more involved and require some technique and proper tinder. :brickwall:

    I would guess that everyone has tried to start a fire by being less patient with their tinder and has had to start over. I know I have - more than once. :(

    The question of which tinder always comes up. Try them until you find one that works well for you. I really enjoy hearing about everyone's techniques. I've adopted many things, thanks to your experiences. And thank you for allowing me to not experience some of them! :trampoline:

    :lecture: This forum is an great place to learn. Patience is probably the most important ingredient. Accelerents will always make it easier. I sometimes wrap my striker with toilet paper and it ignites like a matchstick (not my invention).

    If I have a firesteel, a knife, an accelerant, and need a fire, I will survive. If I do not think my fire source will work EVERY time, there may not be room for convenience in my pack. This is just the minimalist in me - besides sometimes you can't have a truckload of gear with you. :censored: choices. I always know what I should have chosen afterward! :topic:




    :strong: I nominate, the firesteel as the ultimate fire starter (although not the most simple and convenient like my peanut lighter)! :strong:

    Thanks for reading.

    Stepping off of soap box... :luck:
     
  12. solocanoe

    solocanoe Empty Pockets

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    B countryTrekker - that was a most awesome post...
    but I'm actually :bow: to your most excellent use of smileys! ;D
     
  13. parawolfe

    parawolfe Empty Pockets

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    I recently purchased an Exotac nanoSTRIKER to add to my collection of fire starting devices. Nice tool, well made, works great and it's small and compact. The steel is a small but you can buy replacements.

    I agree that firesteels are the most dependable firestarter but as long as I have a working Bic lighter I'm going to use it first. I have read in threads that Bic lighters don't work when they are wet. It is very simple to dry out a Bic lighter. I was a smoker many years ago, and as most smokers know, all you need to do is shake out any excess water and then run the flint wheel backwards on your pant leg or some dry area a few times. The biggest problem with Bic or Scripto lighters is inadvertently depressing the fuel tab when it's in your pocket or packed away. Then you pull out a lighter that has accidentally exhausted it's fuel. But if that happens then you have your preferred firesteel to use. :winkwink:
     
  14. BCountryTrekker

    BCountryTrekker Loaded Pockets

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    :iagree:
    Well said.

    Fewer words and :) !
     
  15. 50ft-trad

    50ft-trad Loaded Pockets

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    :iagree:

    Firesteels have ALWAYS enabled me to achieve fire with "manufactured" tinder. Although, whilst firesteels are good for thousands of fires, 3 PJ balls and 2 alcohol swabs are not. Lazyness and pehaps a spoonful of gullibility have thus far prevented be from working with natural tinders, particularly the ones which are not served to us on a plate. I have also been effective with flint, steel & charcloth, but again with perfectly dried grass on a hot summers day. I know that I can operate the firesteel adequately, but I must now learn how to source and yield effective tinder from nature's stockpile irrespective of weather conditions. Only then will I consider myself truly efficient with a firesteel, and therefore properly prepared.
     
  16. BCountryTrekker

    BCountryTrekker Loaded Pockets

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    One question for Parawolfe and other firesteel aficionados:

    What are your split ring attachable, least bulky, best "bang for the buck" firesteels?

    Top three will do.
     
  17. solocanoe

    solocanoe Empty Pockets

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    my fav comes from the Ranger Rick survival necklace - use it all the time - in fact on Jan 1 I took a "just because I want to" trip out in the boat - broke a little ice, had a nice paddle...and ended up back at the put in area starting a small fire with it to make a pot of coffee (it was 23 degrees that day) for less than $30 shipped you get a lot of other stuff too...
    [img width=640 height=480]http://i142.photobucket.com/albums/r115/fsmh3/m2andsurvivalnecklace001.jpg[/img]
    the firesteel is attached to that small mag rod about 2 inches long.

    of course, I used the Coghlans ones too...that's serious bang for your buck!
    http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0000CE2D8/ref=asc_df_B0000CE2D8994674?smid=ATVPDKIKX0DER&tag=googlecom09c9-20&linkCode=asn&creative=380341&creativeASIN=B0000CE2D8

    Heck! you can probably GET the Coghlan's at the Dollar Stores FOR a BUCK! ;D

    (to me) the most important trick was using a high carbon knife - really aided in the sparks dept.
     
  18. 50ft-trad

    50ft-trad Loaded Pockets

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    I think my "back up" is the same item, but I bougt it "seperately" along with several other gadgets and gizmos from here ...
    Mini-Match

    I haven't tried it out though to be honest (oops), as I 've ony ever used LMF ones in my kit.
    I hope it is the same though, because then I know Solocanoe has tested it for me and I can rely on it ;)
     
  19. solocanoe

    solocanoe Empty Pockets

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    yeah, 50ft - that looks like the same one. good find there. O0
     
  20. wacbzz

    wacbzz Loaded Pockets

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    Seriously, forget the Swedish firesteels...garbage, and only worthwhile if you absolutely have nothing else and have practiced using one time after time after time. Because if you don't have a mischmetal ferro rod, you really don't know what you are missing out on. I get all mine here. With this rod, I've NEVER had a problem starting a fire with or without anything like a vaseline soaked cotton ball. This product really is idiot proof...just watch the video.
     
    mole likes this.