Man is the only animal in the forest that can make fire. This puts us in a very unique situation, we gain all the wonders fire makes possible but accept the responsibilities that go along with it.
Fire is our friend simply because we have evolved beyond the thick fur our ancestors had to keep warm, the claws and fangs to rip raw food and the sharp sensitive eyes that hunted in dim light.
Fire allows us to compensate for all these things. It keeps the dark and predators at a distance and gives us a feeling of well being.
I will cover primitive and semi-primitive methods of fire making on another page,
For now, lets take a look at some modern fire making tools.
Starting with the most obvious.
Paper matches have no place in the bush, they are hygroscopic (they absorb water) and fall apart. The flame they produce is both slight and too short lived.
Camp matches such as the BLUE DIAMOND variety you see above are the MINIMUM you should ever carry afield.
The white canister on the lower right contains "LIFE BOAT" matches. More like a miniature flare, these are water and wind proof. If you must use matches..........these are it.
The lighters are pretty straight forward, butane lighters are just too handy and inexpensive not to include in your kit. The rather odd looking lighter on the upper right is a "lighter cover" it uses the exact same lighter you see pictured but has an added sliding "wind screen" for use in bad weather. Dumb looking but it works.
Some thoughts on lighters for your survival kit:
1) Buy lighters with transparent fuel capsules so you can monitor butane consumption.
2) Pick a bright color, if you drop it you'll want to find it.
3) Use one with a child proof safety, not only to protect the kiddies but to help keep the lighter from rubbing against gear in your pack and discharging..............you need it = it's empty.
4) Carry more then one and in different locations, Remember......Pocket/Pack/Paw
More Serious Tools
If you are a frequent wilderness traveler, you will at some point opt for a "Fire Tool".
More often then not a Ferrocerium rod attached to a handle or Magnesium rod/bar or both.
These things are a true survival tool and life saver. Nearly indestructible and capable of producing thousands of lights per unit. Simply running your knife or similar edge across the rod produces a shower of hot sparks..about 1100 degree sparks, that should coax a flame from dray tinder. If not a few shavings from the magnesium rod will easily ignite and burn even hotter. Damp tinder gives birth to flame with a strike or two.
This is a Ferrocerium / Magnesium combo in a Wood handle.
I just love this thing. I added a cut down Sawzall blade with a bit of bright paint and a leash to keep em together.
The Zip Lock contains Dryer Lint............Poof........Fire!
Above.........behold the STRIKE FORCE fire tool by Survival Inc! No Magnesium, just a crap load of Misch Metal / Ferrocerium in a handy plastic unit (with a compartment for tinder) and sporting a built in scrapper.
I've added some reflective tape to the sides of the unit just in case.
These things come in all sorts of handy sizes (I have a small one on my key chain) and colors and are worth the few bucks you'll spend on them. Pick one up, practice with it and rest easy about heat, light, signaling and comfort in the bush.
Remember........be careful with Fire !