Back about twenty years ago when I was actively an instructor of Advanced Hunter Education for the Minnesota DNR, I soon learned how fascinated sportsmen were with fire. I’m not sure if it’s some natural urge that dates back to prehistoric man, but there’s no doubt about it men like to play with fire.
One of the exercises we used in class was pairing up students and to have them start a campfire as a team. They could use their own techniques for starting the fire…and we would supply several tools for ignition. The whole point of the exercise was to get the adult students to practice something they maybe hadn’t thought a whole lot about since their scouting days. Often, I was amazed at how some groups were quite adept at starting their fires while other groups seemed to struggle with utter frustration.
Most often sportsmen rely on matches or some device (such as a BIC lighter) to make the job much easier. There are even a whole host of metal matches (made from magnesium), windproof lighters, waterproof match containers, etc. to help get the job done.
But that’s not what this is all about. No, there’s a special feeling about starting a fire and doing so in an unconventional manner. It shows resourcefulness and a certain aptitude for the outdoors that makes you want to get stranded with a dude who has abilities like that.
One of my personal favorite fire starting methods involves using steel wool and flashlight batteries. I remember showing this in class one time and having a student tell me that learning that technique alone was worth the price of the class. It’s a neat trick, and it will impress your friends. Every Mag-Lite Flashlight I own has a screw-off back with a spring. (This is typically where you will find a spare bulb wrapped in some foam) Well, within the spring is ample room to wad up some 000 steel wool and store it for when you need a fire someday. In doing so, I know that EVERY flashlight I own has the capability to show me the way in the dark AND to start a fire in an emergency.
Until today I thought my flashlight fire starting technique was the coolest…but perhaps no more. I recently discovered a method for igniting a fire using an ordinary pop can and a small piece of pure chocolate. That’s right…tell me what sportsman doesn’t carry a can of pop and at least a chocolate bar or two in their fanny pack. I know I sure do.
I’m not going to get into the detailed instructions here…but you can link to this web site for further details. I have not tried the technique as of yet…but in theory it certainly seems plausible and would be a fun new way to impress your friends. Who knows, the next time you’re sitting around the campsite you may even win a few bets with this nifty technique as your astonished friends look on.
Undoubtedly, it was some well-rounded sportsman who thought up this fire starting method. I’m anxious to hear from others if you have an unconventional fire starting method that’s your favorite.
© 2005 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.
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