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#146361 - 02/13/11 10:31 PM Re: Starting fire with magnesium [Re: RobJT]
brady Offline

Registered: 07/11/10
Posts: 3
One option for starting a fire is charring something like an old shirt or lint. Get a can, like an altoids can or pint size paint can, and put two small holes in it. Put what ever you are going to char inside, can be any organic material, seal it (so the holes are the only openings) and place it on a fire. Fumes will start to come out of the holes, the fumes will burn, once you can't see the fumes anymore plug the holes with small sticks and remove from the fire. The idea is you are "burning" the material without oxygen so the flammable material remains.
After doing this you can use flint and steel to light it very easily. it won't have a flame but will burn very hot and only get hotter with air flow, and is lighter than magnesium.

Also you can just use the igniter on a bic lighter to light the charred material. Yes you could just use the fuel from the lighter, but that eventually runs out. Charred cloth could be a backup.

#146370 - 02/14/11 03:26 AM Re: Starting fire with magnesium [Re: finallyME]
TomD Offline

Registered: 10/30/03
Posts: 4963
Loc: Marina del Rey,CA
Originally Posted By finallyME
Apparently not all mag blocks are created equal.

mag fire starter fraud

I saw this a while back-there are a lot of firestarter videos on YouTube. Based on one of them, I bought a "Sparkie Fire Starter" at REI. It is a smaller version of the Blastmatch. There are many others that probably work as well or better. Haven't used mine to start a fire, but tested it and it does throw a shower of sparks, just as advertised. I also have some Stormproof Matches from REI that are "strike anywhere" miniature sparklers that won't go out until the flammable coating on the match is fully consumed; even snow doesn't stop them from burning once they are lit. These are not your average waterproof match. They are not cheap, but I've used them winter camping and always carry a box with me in addition to a Bic lighter.
Don't get me started, you know how I get.

#146375 - 02/14/11 08:07 AM Re: Starting fire with magnesium [Re: chaz]
Paulo Offline

Registered: 01/27/11
Posts: 158
Loc: Normally Pacific Northwest
While there are easier ways, it is always good to have a backup.

About the comments of "it might not work", why not try it out before you go?. Any gear that you plan on using should be tested. Who would go out into the woods planning on starting a fire without knowing the basics of how to make a fire? Who would go out on a road trip without having learned to drive a vehicle?

One problem with firesteels is for people who don't know how to use them, or are expecting the magnesium to do all the work.

cotton balls with vaseline are a good last minute method, but I would rather teach and learn primitive methods for emergency use for those "just in case" situations.

I've had a magnesium stick with flint for 20 years and I'm only now really exploring how to use it correctly. Is it possible to get a fake or poor quality one? Yes, just like it is possible to get fake or poor quality other gear (I'm thinking of the Petzl Gear thread). So just be careful. I rarely use the magnesium side of it. It often just isn't necessary. The magnesium is for wet weather where it is harder to find dry tinder that takes a spark.

Oh and don't throw out your old lighters, they still can be used when they run out of fuel. They have a ferrocerium rod in them.
Check out this video. It shows that starting a fire with simple cotton balls (can be done with other tinder) can be raelly easy.

Without a doubt, the hardest thing of all in a survival situation is to cook without the benefit of seasonings and flavourings. - Ray Mears

#146412 - 02/14/11 05:26 PM Re: Starting fire with magnesium [Re: Paulo]
CamperMom Offline

Registered: 01/04/02
Posts: 1188
Loc: Eastern MA, USA
Originally Posted By Paulo
About the comments of "it might not work", why not try it out before you go?

I totally agree with trying gear at or close to home. Even tossing your bear line. I thought that using my stake sack with a rock inside would be good for getting my line over a tree limb. Instead, it wrapped around a nearby small branch and got stuck. I have plenty of "lessons learned" this way. At least you are hearing it here, not from a news story following a catastrophe.


#147446 - 03/06/11 06:06 PM Re: Starting fire with magnesium [Re: CamperMom]
Alex Frost Offline

Registered: 02/18/11
Posts: 15
I went through my pyro phase like any other good boy, messing around with magnesium, thermite, and all the other goodies. But cotton balls with vaseline and a good ol' match or lighter work the best. If you have proper kindling you don't even need the cotton ball.

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