Been a bit of a long day, but my fire steels came in, and I’ve started on my fatwood survival lighter project.
First though, I wanted to say thank you to those who reached out on here via comment or email about my truck. Your well-wishes were much appreciated, even if I didn’t respond to everybody. As an update, a neighbor gave me a lift to town this morning, and though I had some walking to do, I found a truck and got a loan approved for it from a local banker. I was at the DMV by noon, and everything is legal, so off-grid gecko is back on the road. Here’s a pic from my Instagram feed:
She’s another Chevy 1500, but this time a truck with a camper-shell instead of an SUV. Of course, when I say new, I mean new-to-me. I don’t buy brand new cars if I can avoid it. Hopefully I’ll tow the other one down to the shop next time I have a day off and let them look at it, but I’m not to keen on spending a lot of money at the moment. I’ll try to do some more research and see if the problems are something I can fix or not. If I can, two trucks is better than one, and I’ll have a back-up vehicle. If not, they both have the same motor, so I’ll have spare parts for this one 😛
Back to the fire-starters. I’m not trying to initially market these with a striker, as I think people out in the brush should be carrying some kind of edged tool anyway, and the strikers are typically worthless chunks of hack-saw blade that will get confiscated on an airline. Either way, if I find that customers insist on having a starter, then I’ll invest in some little blades as well, though there are better choices out there, and some with a hole already punched in them.
My model was the typical magnesium boy-scout lighters. Those are essentially a block of Mg to be shaved into a pile of tinder to catch a spark from the steel mounted on the side of the block. My lighters are basically the same, except using fatwood instead of magnesium.
This is a shot after mounting a few of them to their respective blocks. A groove was cut in each block to cradle the steel, and each piece was sanded on the mating side to ensure better adhesion with the epoxy. So far, the system has not disappointed.
The one on the far right was definitely the least secure of the batch, and I’m using it for testing. It hasn’t come loose after starting several small fires with it, but we’ll see how it fares in my pocket for a week. Every fire this week will use that little block for a starter, and I’ll be sparking it off at every available opportunity to stress test the design.
The one in the middle is a more conventional shaping, but the same idea. Fatwood handle and mounted steel.
With any of them, the procedure is this:
- Shave off some fatwood from the handle. If you hold a blade perpendicular to the block and rub it back and forth, you will get tiny, sticky grains of dust. More angle with give curls that are a bit harder to catch a spark, but burn longer. You can also split off a pretty thick chunk as a mini-kindling piece to keep things going.
- Strike the back of your knife against the steel to throw a spark onto the pile of fat-lighter you’ve made. A good spark will set it ablaze, but this takes a bit of practice, and different techniques work for different people. The harder knife steel (or chunk of chert or flint, or shard of glass, or whatever you would like to use that is hard enough material) will shave off tiny bits of metal while making them super hot from the friction, and they burn like magnesium. Takes a bit of practice.
- Layer on the smallest kindling or tinder first to keep the fire going, then add larger and larger pieces until you have something hot enough to drop coals. Continue adding wood as needed.
That’s it. Fire. And these little lighters will fit pretty neatly into most decent survival kits. I’m even considering making an Altoids tin into a little tinder box with a steel included, but more on that later.
Also, these chunks are not out of my store-bought fatwood bag as the pieces aren’t large enough. It’s all harvested wild, right here in the heart of the Ozarks, and has a color pattern characteristic of our pine trees. I may use the store-bought stuff to make some “practice beads” that will go with the kits, but my starters themselves will all be made from larger pieces of wild-harvested fatwood. I don’t have them listed yet, but will be working on that this week, perhaps. I need to figure out the shipping stuff. I’ll probably have some at the farmers market as well.
But first, more testing 🙂
Have a peachy day, and thanks for visiting.