Wednesday, September 20, 2017

FIRE! FIRE! FIRE!

By: Sebastian Berry


DISCLAIMER: Fire is hot. As such it can burn you. It can also burn down your house. Don't be dumb and burn yourself or burn down your house. Also all pictures and video after this point are credited to the author.

Friends, in my never ending quest for survival skills and knowledge. One of my favorite things to learn and teach about is fire building. There is almost nothing more satisfying in the family survival situation than being able to produce fire. I can only imagine how cavemen felt when they were able to produce and contain fire. I'm pretty certain that if they were to see me as I build and contain fire my emotions and theirs would be pretty similar.

Of course, everyone knows about the importance of fire. The things it can be used for are numerous. Defense, heat, and cooking are my top three reasons and in that order. I won't elaborate heavily on my reasons but generally speaking a fire keeps things that go bump in the night away from you.  In the family survival scenario there is no telling what conditions or climate you may be in, making heat (along with shelter) important. Safe and warm are great things but do you little good if you are not able to prepare any food that you might have. Yes, I understand that a great many things can be eaten uncooked or raw but having a hot meal does wonders for personal comfort and mindset.

Fire needs three things in order to be fire...
  • Heat
  • Oxygen
  • Fuel
If either one of these three things is missing or taken away once a fire is established, the fire dies.

We all know there are many ways to start fire. Matches, lighters, fire strikers, magnesium bars, friction, or simply transporting a smolder from a previous location. In this post I am going to share my favorite family survival fire widget. I love wax dipped strike-anywhere matches.


In videos below you will be able to see the difference between a naked match and dipped matches. The difference in burn time is pretty drastic.
  • Single naked match burn time =   15-30 seconds
  • Single dipped match burn time=  2:30-3+ minutes
Dipping matches provides a couple of enhancements.
  • Waterproofing
  • Extra fuel
The dipping process takes a little bit of practice and a lot more patience.





I like to "soak" the matches in the wax to get a little base layer built up and let them cool. The real secret to dipping matches is to let the wax cool down to the point where it starts to solidify.


The wax as pictured above is almost too cool to dip but still worked well for me. I also have experimented with cotton and toilet paper wrapping with mixed results. I did not test the burn time on cotton wrapped and toilet paper wrapped.





You'll notice that I bundled matches together. This is what I like so much. A single dipped match provides a significantly longer burn time and burn stability as opposed to a naked match. I've found that for actual ease of making a fire, a bundle of four matches dipped together provides an enhanced profile for actually starting a fire.

Pro Tip: the wax must be completely removed down to the wood before striking
Here are the burn time videos: 
Spoiler alert: these are probably boring and you probably will hear my kids and neighbors in the background. I still think they are informative enough to show.

Single undipped match: ~20 second burn time

Single dipped match: ~3:30 burn time

4 match dipped bundle: able to build fire in less than 2 minutes

Anything worth doing is worth overdoing. This next video is two parts both are about 1:30 a piece. Total burn time on this mega match was about 12:30. It was 12 matches dipped together.



A few things I didn't mention earlier. I sourced the pot and the candle wax from a local thrift store for a total cost of $2. The strike anywhere matches came in a 3 pack at a local store for just under $5. Total project cost of less than $7 and I have enough survival matches for a while.

What are your favorite ways to start a fire? Let me know in the comments.