Sunday, January 13, 2008

Winter fire stuff...

Well the weather lightened up a little, so yesterday I decided to take the opportunity to head into my local section of woods and see if I could get a little fire going out there in the snow. I hadn't been out in the bush for a while, so it felt real good to be there. The trick of the day of course, was to use only the fire-stick and steel to produce my fire with mostly any materials at hand in the middle of winter. Took about ten minutes for me to round up some strips of White Cedar bark from a towing ancient old forest monarch and a few hunks of dead White Birch bark off an old stump, filled with rotted wood. I also snapped off a nice handful of tiny twigs and branch tips from a dead Poplar and some more from a stunted Rock Maple, all nice and dry to the touch. After laying down a thin layer of green Cedar branch tips on the compacted section of snow I had prepared, I rubbed the Cedar bark between the palms of my hands until it was all a mass of fine dry fibers but yet not broken into little pieces or too powdery either. Next came the White Birch bark bits, split into little noodle-like strands with my trusty old folding knife. The skinnier these pieces are, the better. A few tiny branch tips from the maple and Poplar were added in a criss-cross pattern to the top of the pile about an inch deep and packed real loose and airy. Then, finally, I took out my new "secret" never-fail, tinder and started to spread it and pull at it and fluff it until it was about 3 inches across on all sides and about a good 1/8 inch thick. It's amazing just how much cotton is in a real cotton ball, eh? Yup, I said cotton ball, as in the kind you get at any drug store or Wally-world even. That's right friend, the plain and simple, old fashioned, genuine Cotton ball, is THE tinder of choice for this ol' bushguy these days! Once the cotton ball was properly prepared, I then carefully slipped it under the edge of the shredded Cedar bark and Birch bark layers, with about a square inch of it sticking out beneath the pile...

Using the tip of my broken piece of old hacksaw blade to hold the cotton steady, I slid the tip of my fire-stick under the edge of the blade, at a right angle to it and applied a firm pressure. Then, in one smooth semi-quick motion, I dragged the firestick up towards me while maintaining my firm grip on the piece of hacksaw blade so that it wouldn't move and disturb the tinder pile.

Poof! A dozen or more medium sized sparks jumped to life off the stick and five or six of them ignited that cotton like there was no tomorrow. Then Woosh, within about three seconds, the Cedar and Birch bark flew into flames and I reached over and fed a few larger twigs to the quickly warming spot in front of me on the winter ground. :-)

Man, I just LOVE this little Fire-Stick/Cotton combo, for totally dependable fire making power, wherever you REALLY need a fire.

Here's the results of that whole simple little process and also a shot of the gear used to create it. If you don't own a fire-stick of some sort yet and you spend any time in the woods at all, I would strongly suggest that you snare one of these cool units somewhere and stash it in your BOB or your bush jacket pocket even. Shucks, I now carry one of mine on my keyring, like you see in the picture there. Don't forget the cotton balls too though. They make everything about this fire starting stuff, totally easy and fool-proof! Wish I would have know about all this neat stuff about thirty years ago! :-)

Can you smell the woodsmoke there?

Stick & Steel...


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