In the old days, nomadic cultures had to follow the game herds if they wanted to eat. That meant that they carried everything they needed with them, even their fire. Starting a fire without matches or lighters is a tedious and time-consuming task. Banging rocks together or rubbing sticks is difficult, so carrying your fire with you made sense. The Keeper of the Fire was a trusted and honored position within a tribe or clan. Are you that person within your camping group?
It is not quite as critical today, but anytime you go into the field, you need something with which to start a fire. Even if you only plan to be out a couple of hours, a fire might make the difference between life and death. An old Marine Gunnery Sergeant that taught me much of my initial survival training offered sound advice…never be afield without a good means to start a fire.
He pointed out very emphatically (as Marine Corps sergeants often do) that signal fires may call for help and their warmth can stave off the effects of a sudden winter storm or spring rain. He also pointed out that the soothing effect of a small campfire burning can help you get your thoughts together and perhaps find your way out of unfamiliar territory or bad situation. To this day, I’m never without a lighter in my pocket.
One more easy way to start a fire is to make your own “fire balls”. Take a cotton ball and coat it with Neosporin. One of these “fire balls” can burn for about five minutes. This little trick will quickly create enough fire to start even damp tinder. There are commercial products like this and they are worth looking at. Not only is the Neosporin trick an excellent fire starter, you’ll also have a ready treatment for minor cuts and scrapes.
Another item I have found that will help light a fire in the wettest conditions is automotive trim adhesive. Go to an auto parts store or the automotive section of a department store and look for this adhesive, my personal favorite is made by 3M. I don’t know how well it works on sticking plastic to metal, but it sure does burn well, and that’s what I’m after!
Just about any tube of this kind of adhesive will have a warning that the contents are “EXTREMELY FLAMMABLE”. It is also waterproof to a great extent, another plus for its use as a campfire starter.
If I have a “wet camp” I simply squirt out a ribbon a couple inches long of this goo (it likes like toothpaste) on top of a stick or small rock, something to keep it just a little higher then the surrounding ground. I pile up some small sticks, twigs and dried grass over the adhesive and light it. In a few minutes I can have a fire in even a waterlogged camp condition with this little trick.
I shared this trick with one of my seminar students who lives in Lexington. She and her husband hunt elk in Wyoming at about 8000 feet. It is a windswept area with little cover. On the next trip, she told me they encountered sleet and snow. While her husband and another camp mate tried to start their fire, she squeezed out a few inches of adhesive, lit it with a match and piled some wood on it. When she had a good fire going, she went over to the “guys” and told them they could come warm up by her fire if they needed to. Great story!
It pays to be prepared. Make sure you are ready to be the Keeper of the Fire in your camps.
Dawn Soap Tips
Give your hunting dogs a bath in Dawn soap. It is much cheaper than commercial dog shampoos and it kills fleas on contact.
Have you ever thought about making your own icepacks. Take a Zip-Lock plastic sandwich bag and fill it with 1 to 1 ½ cups of Dawn soap. Close the baggie and toss it in the freezer. It doesn’t freeze rock hard, but it stays cold much longer than the commercial freezer packs. By not being frozen and rigid, it can be molded to conform to wherever you need to apply the cold and stays in place better.
Have a great time in the outdoors!