by Hawkeyes, in the Pacific North-west
After reading a few dozen articles (posts) on thesurvivalistblog website, and the responses to said articles (posts), I have decided to respond with a few items that I have learned over time to be helpful in a out-in-the-boonies situation. Not saying that I am an expert at anything but I have learned over the past way-too-many years of how not to do some things. So, here we go…
1) Being quite fumble-fingered I have yet to master the art of using the petroleum jelly laden cotton balls for anything but getting petroleum jelly all over everything and no fire. So, I have devised a way to accomplish the same end product, i.e., fire, in a far easier way. Get yourself a package of the round cotton pad things that seem to be available at just about every drug store type establishment. For a buck or two you can get a hundred of the them. I think females use these things in the removal of war paint, uh, makeup. Do the double boiler thing with petroleum jelly. With forceps, or long nose pliers, dip the pads into the liquid petroleum jelly ½ to ¾ the width of them. Place them on plastic wrap, and when done dipping, put the group in the fridge for maybe ½ hour so the jelly isn’t quite as liquidy as it was when dipped. I usually “dip” a dozen of the pads at a time. After a ½ hour in the fridge I stack a dozen of the dipped pads, with three non-dipped pads on each end, in a sandwich bag. This way I have a few extra pads if needed.
Using the petroleum jelly pads is fairly simple but has a “trick” to their use. The non-dipped part of the pad is the key to their simplicity. Take one out of the sandwich bag, or zip lock bag or whatever they are in, tear three places in the non-dipped area. This action results in a fuzzy area that is quite susceptible to sparks. Place the pad on the ground or wherever you desire to start your fire, and using a magnesium starter, bic lighter, or whatever, expose the torn part of the pad to the ignition devise. I have yet to have to strike a magnesium striker more than twice to get one to ignite. The pad will burn up to about 8 minutes. Far more time than needed to get a real fire going.
2) Being as though I currently reside in the Pacific North-west I am somewhat familiar with the syndrome of “lack of dry kindling”. Have that one solved too. Grab yourself a handful of pop-sickle sticks, tongue depressors, or wooden skewers. You know, the type sold as shish-kabob things, but very seldom work for that. Now there is a problem associated with these things. They come with a fairly sharp point. This point has been known to find the most sensitive part of a back pack and protrude out of said back pack. So, cut it off.
One should normally have a decent, and sharp, knife. Use said knife to scrape the pop sickle stick, or tongue depressor, or shish kabob thing, to get fuzzy kindling. Or you can just fuzz up the wood devices and let the round things that have been dipped in petroleum jelly that are now on fire get the wood things burning. I have gotten fuzzed-up tongue depressors to catch fire fairly easily b themselves using a magnesium starter.
3) Here’s a couple of things I have yet to see in any BOB, etc., list: Cable ties/wire ties/ zip ties. Whatever you want to call them. These things come in so handy it ain’t funny. Grab yourself a dozen 12 inch, a dozen 18 inch, and even a dozen 24 inch of them. They don’t weigh more than 8 ounces for all 36. They make nice hand cuffs, too. And while you’re at it toss in about 3 ft., or more, of 10 or 12 AWG copper wire. Think about it. Ever tried to hold a pot over a fire with your hands? Or need something to secure something else to a tree branch temporarily? You’ll thank me.
Suggestion: Strip out a 3 ft., or more, length of Romex. You get one white covered wire, one black covered wire, and one bare copper. Put it in your pack first. Form it into the shape of the pack and put it in before anything else. Now, think. Might you want to “mark a trail”? A trail that you don’t want many others to notice? Take the bare wire, cut it about 6 inches long and wrap it around a branch every 100 yards or so. Who will be looking for 12 AWG copper wire wrapped around a branch?