Scouts-L Mail Archive for October of 1998: Re: Starting Fires 2 (sparks!)
Re: Starting Fires 2 (sparks!)
Mon, 12 Oct 1998 13:42:07 -0700
At 10:05 AM 10/12/98 -0700, you wrote:
>As noted earlier the council also provided 2 older flint
>and steel sets. These also did not work. I do not believe
>one stone was flint. They provided us with wood shavings
>and the kits had a horse hair kind of
>material. Will dryer lint work? Other suggestions?
Kevin, as a Scout back in the 60's, i was able to have a blaze from one of
those "older" flint and steel kits in 3-4 seconds, it is not required that
the rock be flint, only that it is harder than the steel, which is about 7
on that scale of 1 to 10 we learned in Geology Merit Badge class. The
reason that it needs to be harder is that the technique of making and
aiming your spark involves "peeling" a red-hot chunk of the steel off with
the rock and getting it to come to rest in a wad of stuff that will then be
very easy to ignite.... it all happens very quickly so it is imperitive
that everything is "just right."
I used to use a piece of charred tee shirt material to catch my spark at
first. This material was prepared by lighting a piece of the cloth and
waiting til it was going good, then smothering it out in a can or
something. Only the really black pieces were good for this. The hardest
thing was to see when the spark caught in the bright sunlight..... Once you
caught your spark in the cloth, then you folded your tinder material (alas
for the demise of hemp ropes, which is probably what the "horse hair"
material was) around it and if everything was "just right", one or two
puffs of air would get your blaze going.....
Later I learned from another Scout that the Yucca plant works very well to
catch your spark, and it became my choice. It was prepared by finding a
good dry piece and cutting it into about a 6-8 inch chunk, then sawing it
in half lengtwise. Next you would set the pulpy heart wood on fire and then
turn it over in the dirt and smother it out. This would leave an area of
charred wood in the center to act as your "spark catcher", pressing your
tinder to it and blowing to start the flame....
I used to keep all my catchers and tinder in a coffee can so that it was
out of the moisture in the air....
On the tinder question, natural fibers are what i preferred, a fine rope
used to yield the makings of a good "rat's nest" of stuff. I would wonder
about dryer lint in general due to some of the fabrics being treated with
flame-retardant materials which wouldn't help much. I've used cotton balls
and 000 steel wool, also.
Due to the Camporee competition natue of my experience, the goal was a
flame, not actually getting a cooking fire blazing, so in order to keep
going, a proper fire lay would need to be prepared to use the flame....
Also, this is something that takes practice, I have not seen very many
people that can walk up to a primitive fire-building situation and pull it
off without a lot of preparation and practice.
Hope this helps...
Mike Montoya, Troop 94 firstname.lastname@example.org ICQ#10212646
Eagle 1966 * Buffalo WE3-59-96 * CM Troop 94
Wawona Chapter Adviser - Toloma Lodge 64
Greater Yosemite Area Council Webmaster
Whether you think you can, or you think you cannot,
you are right. - Henry Ford