There’s nothing like actual time in the woods to improve your camping skills. A recent trip into the woods for a little camping trip with my son and one of his friends resulted in yet another lesson on how to prepare for wilderness living.
You see, the weather on this campout was not a beautiful spring day. It was a very early spring day, and it was still cool, and it was raining. Hey, there’s no weather guarantee for the apocalypse, so you’ve got to practice in all kinds of conditions. So anyway, we’re in the woods and we decided that we needed to get a fire going. Everything was wet, but I had some paraffin and cardboard fire starters; so I wasn’t worried about getting a fire lit. But then we discovered a problem. All we had to start the fire with was a fero-rod striker. A fero-rod is not the right tool for igniting a wax and cardboard fire starter. So, we had to traipse out into the field and locate a juniper tree, peal some bark off the dry side, shave off the inner bark, and buff it up into tinder. Then we could use the fero-rod to light the juniper bark, use the juniper bark to light the fire starter, and use the fire starter to get our damp squaw-wood twigs burning. Not a major problem; I’m sure we could have got the fire started with enough juniper bark and some rich pine slivers, but it was kind of a pain.
So after our camping was done, and I was back at the house; I decided to make some fire starters that I could ignite with a fero-rod. This is what I came up with:
To make these fire starters you will need some corrugated cardboard, a pair of scissors, some heavy jute macramé string, some light cotton string, and some wax. I use recycled candle wax that I keep in an old coffee can.
Start by cutting your corrugated cardboard into strips that are about an inch and a half wide by twelve inches long. Cut your jute into pieces about four inches long.
Place a jute wick onto one of the strips of cardboard.
Roll the cardboard up into a cylinder and tie a piece of light cotton string around the cylinder to hold it in place.
Place your can of wax into a pot of water and set it over heat. Never set the can of wax directly on a flame. There is danger that it might ignite and start a serious fire.
Holding your fire starter by the wick, dip it down into the wax. Cover the cardboard completely with wax and also make sure that the first ¾ inch of the wick is also coated with wax. If the lower part of the wick does not have wax on it, the jute will all burn up too fast, and won’t ignite the starter.
Set the fire starter on a piece of aluminum foil to cool.
The series of photos below show how to use the improved fire starter. Note that you must fray out the wick before striking a spark to it. This will insure that the wick ignites.
A final lesson learned from this camping experience….. Make sure that you throw a cigarette lighter in your bug out bag. Always better to have multiple options.