One of my favorite prepper toys over the last couple of years has been my Firebox. A small folding stove made here in Utah by a local businessman. It’s been a wonderfully useful little folding stove, although sadly one of my scouts just lost the two pegs (hey guys, do you sell those individually?).
Now even better news. While small and somewhat light, it hasn’t fit the “ultralight” category that can be really nice. But now there is a new product coming out. Check it, and jump over to kickstarter and pre-order this thing.
Right now my decision is just what level I want to kick it at. If you look they have upgraded packages that include carriers, stable fuel, combos with the 5″ classic version and more. Don’t miss this discounted chance to get an excellent stove.
Sometimes you just want a small stove for your tent. Wouldn’t that be nice to have an actual wood-burning method of heating a shelter that doesn’t cost a fortune, and is easy to carry around? Now dont’ get me wrong, I truly covet a nice stove for the wall tent I dream of owning some day, but reality hasn’t let that come into my posession yet.
Continuing my Heat and Light Series, today we’re going to look at an alternative way to start a fire – with Steel Wool and Batteries. Like I’ve said in previous posts in this series, this is probably something that every old Boy Scout and every long time Prepper already knows. The point of this series is to get back to basics and cover things that new Preppers will need to get up to speed on – and to remind some of you about the skills and knowledge you have that you may have forgotten. :) Continue reading “Starting a Fire with Steel Wool”
The next installment in our Heat and Light series is Making a simple Emergency Stove from Household Materials. This stove is capable of boiling water in less than 10 minutes and is very easy to use and re-use. The materials required to make it can commonly be found in the home and should be stored in your preps. Required are: Paraffin Wax, cardboard and a couple tin cans. Continue reading “How to Make an Emergency Stove from Common Materials”
Continuing my series on Light and Heat, today I’m going to talk about making Fire Starting Candles. There are a variety of ways to do this, today we’re going to cover using cardboard egg cartons and dryer lint or cotton balls. This particular project will likely already be familiar to experienced Preppers and Boy Scouts. This post is aimed at those new to prepping who have never been exposed to this kind of thing.
Being able to start a fire is absolutely critical in many potential situations. It can literally mean the difference between life and death. Knowing many ways to be able to start a fire is an essential survival skill, practicing and maintaining those skills is just as essential. Continue reading “Making Fire Starting Candles”
A lot of people have written up their thoughts and their experiences about going through the Herriman “Machine Gun” fire 19 September 2010. I’ve had some friends ask me to do the same. One friend asked me to specifically to highlight the preparedness aspect of our experience.
We’ve lived in the Herriman area for about seven years. During that time, we’ve seen a handful of fires on the hills south of us, usually ignited by lightning. These have usually been small fires and quickly contained by firefighters. So when we heard there was a fire burning in the hills Sunday afternoon, it wasn’t terribly shocking news.
When we came out of church after 4:00 p.m., the sky was considerably smoky to the point that the light from the sun had taken on an orange-ish hue. That was remarkable, but it still didn’t really concern any of us. We carried on with our plans just as most everyone did.
When starting a flint and steel or striker type of fire, char cloth makes all the difference in being able to actually get the fire started or just making a bunch of sparks that never catch anything on fire. Char cloth (sometimes also called charred cloth) is one of those amazing mountain man items that is still very useful today. Char cloth is pieces of blackened fabric that easily catch a spark and burn similarly to the way steel wool burns–no big flame, but a nice ember burn that doesn’t blow out once it’s lit. The spark lights the char cloth and the char cloth is used to light the other tinder. I’ve been wanting to add char cloth to my fire kits and having used all my char cloth made by others, I decided to make a batch of my own.
I had some basic directions to go off of, but had never made it myself, so here’s how the first round went. I got some 100% cotton fabric–I used jersey fabric (an old T shirt) and cut it into approximately 2″ squares. Mine was kind of a natural color, but you could probably use any color you have, just avoid screen-printed designs, etc. I cut the ribbing off from the neck and sleeve ends as well as the seams. You just want the fabric.
Next, I got a metal can–I used an old cookie tin. I punched a vent hole in the can lid with a hammer and nail. You can use whatever metal can you have–I’ve seen it done with smaller tins as well as cleaned out food cans with foil for a lid.
I put the cut up fabric squares in the tin, put the lid on, and put the can on my grill on low and let it cook. You definitely want to do this outside–burning fabric doesn’t smell all that good. My instructions said to cook it until it stopped smoking. I had the tin fairly full, and cooked it close to 3 hours before I decided to turn it off. It never smoked a lot. When it cooled, I opened the can and only the bottom 3-4 layers were black, the rest of the fabric was brown.
I turned the pile over and put it back on the grill on Medium this time and cooked it another close to 3 hours. This time it was all black when it was finished. However, it didn’t catch a spark very well. I could light it with a flame, or an occasional large spark, but it was very frustrating to work with. Nothing like the char cloth I’d had before that a friend of ours made from terry cloth (old towel).
So I put it back on the grill again, this time I only filled the can about 1/3 full and cooked it on high another 3 hours or so. Now it was a little more fragile and easy to tear (as char cloth generally is), but it still didn’t catch spark well. I had no more ideas to make it better, so I decided to start over.
The second and far better batch of char cloth I made started with 100% cotton monk’s cloth I got at Walmart. Notice the loose weave and air holes. Those made a huge difference. I cut it a little smaller this time–about 1 1/2 inch square as 2″ was a little larger than necessary. There is some shrinkage as it cooks, but not that much. I wanted to see if it would work straight from the store without washing the fabric first, so I only cut 5 squares of it.
I put it in a smaller tin which also got the hammer/nail air vent in the lid.
Feeling like I’d spent enough of my grill gas on this project, I opted to do this round real mountain man style and build a fire and toss the tin in the fire. I pretty well buried it–it’s in there somewhere.
It did not cook long in the fire–maybe 15 minutes (of course it was in a smaller tin than the first round, but I’m guessing even a large tin wouldn’t take 9 hours in the fire). I couldn’t tell when it stopped smoking since it was in a fire with all the rest of the smoke, so I just guessed at when to pull it out. It wouldn’t matter if it stayed in there until the fire burned out as long as no sparks got in the airhole and caught all the fabric on fire in the meantime.
I fished it out, let it cool, and opened it to nicely blackened monk’s cloth.
This second round of char cloth lights up with minimal spark from a firestarter or flint/steel. It is more fragile than the jersey char cloth, but works much better. I’ll have to post on flint/steel firestarting another time :)
So, to recap, to make better char cloth, start with a 100% cotton fabric with texture and a fairly loose weave. Use a fire pit if you can to save on gas. Cooking on higher heat and cooking a smaller batch help speed up cooking time. Happy firestarting!
Last week I had the opportunity to get in on a group buy for the Volcano II stove. (Sorry, I would have shared the details but I found out about it very last minute and barely made it in myself!) I had heard good things about this stove, and after a brief review of its features and online ratings, I decided to acquire one.
The main reason I wanted to add this to my supplies is its versatility—Volcano stoves can use charcoal, wood, or propane (with the adapter). I found this setup very desirable, since while my fuel may be diversified, this single stove can handle almost everything I throw at it. It’s made to accommodate dutch ovens, or you can lay down the included grill on top and use a normal pan, pot, or cook your things directly on it. And cleanup is as simple as turning the stove over and dumping the remnants out (unless you’re using propane, of course).
Another great feature of the Volcano is its unique heat chamber that channels the heat upwards towards your food, instead of wasting fuel by expelling heat out the sides and bottom. This also means that the area surrounding the stove is cooler than conventional stoves, allowing you to cook with the stove on a variety of surfaces that you normally might not use for putting your stove on.
Below are the pictures of my grand unveiling when I opened and first used the stove.
All Preppers know that in a TEOTWAWKI or WTSHTF situation or any other crisis event you’ve got to be able to start fires, especially in a Bug Out situation. We’re not talking about being able to get a spark here, we’re talking about strong tinder lighting capability. If you add moisture to the mix you’ve got an even more complicated and risky situation.
Lets say you’ve bugged out, you’ve got all your Bug Out Gear with you, and it’s been drizzling a bit. The ground is wet, found tinder is going to be wet, the only thing that might be dry is your last couple squares of toilet paper – and you’ve got to have a fire. So what do you do? You put your last precious squares of TP wadded up on the damp ground and then set your damp twigs on top of it and use one of your 27 lighters or 6 other fire starters you have in your BOB to get it going. In less than a minute your TP has burned out and the ground and twigs are still damp – and your SOL.
Enter a very simple prep – taking regular old cotton balls (100% cotton, none of that fake junk) that cost about $1.25 for a bag of 120 (that’d be the LARGE size cotton ball) and cover them with Vaseline which costs about $3.00 for a good size jar. Now you’ve got a very compact and light-weight water resistant starter that will burn strong for several minutes.
Here’s the step-by-step and a demo:
Transfer the cotton balls into a decent container – we used ziploc sandwich bags.
Put a handful of Vaseline into each bag and seal with a bit of air in them.
Knead the cotton into the Vaseline until each ball in the bag is covered nicely (this takes a little bit of time)
Voila! You just made a baggie full of really killer fire starter. We made up a few.
There are dozens of ways to make these, this just illustrates what I’ve found useful and easy. One of these baggies will go into mine and each kids Bug Out Bag (BOB) with several baggies going into my regular long-term storage. There are lots of ways to store them too, right now I’m just storing them in their baggie.
To light the ball, you rip it part way open to expose the inner threads of cotton and spark against them. They ignite very quickly and the rest of the ball acts like a candle due to the vaseline covering. Once the ball has sat in jelly for a few days it will be water resistant.
For about $14.00 we just put 600 reliable fire starters into our storage – not bad at all!
This video demonstrates how long and how well the cotton ball burns once it’s covered in jelly, the other balls in this video are plain ole regular cotton balls.
Don’t be caught without the ability to easily and reliably make fire! Take the little amount of time and money these puppies require and you’ll always have the security of reliably starting many fires.