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Outdoor Preparedness: Fire Starting

Whether you enjoy camping or value your ability to be ready in case emergency strikes, the ability to build a fire is a competency that you will absolutely need.

When you find yourself in need of a fire, you may find it necessary to do so in some of the least conducive conditions, such as in the driving rain or even just intense humidity. What most people think of when it comes to starting a fire outdoors is something out of Survivor where people grind sticks together, hoping to spark something with tinder. The reality is that, while it may be feasible in the end, such methods take a certain amount of time, patience, and skill that might not be available to you in times of emergency.

Fortunately there are easier strategies that one can use. When you need to start a fire no matter what, you should look towards using waterproof matches and/or a material called ferrocerium.
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It’s pretty much a given that you’d consider waterproof matches. They do what it says on the tin. It is likely, though, that you should also consider a waterproof enclosure for your matches. With completely waterlogged gear, it can be a pain to pull out a box of soggy matches, even as waterproof as they may claim to be. In any event, waterproof matches remain the easiest tool one can purchase to make their fire-starting easier, which is the primary goal when making something like a readiness kit.
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However, there are methods besides waterproof matches that are as effective, if not more entirely more interesting.

Of chief interest is a material known as ferrocerium, which most often comes in the form of something called a ferro rod, and sometimes referred to as “flint-and-steel”. It’s reliability is very much comparable to waterproof matches in similar situations. To use a ferro rod, one only needs to strike the rod with a harder material, which isn’t hard to find. The biggest difference between ferro rods and matches is that ferro rods are, compared to the matches’ wood, more sturdy and easier to dry off if you need to do so.

As an aside, it is important to remember that, with either method, your kindling needs to be as dry as possible, otherwise creating embers will be an exercise in futility.

When comparing both of the aforementioned methods and considering which option to go with, it depends on the circumstances when it’s being used.

Waterproof matches are, probably, the easiest to use of either of the methods, mainly because people tend to use matches in regular life anyway. However, ferro rods are extremely consistent in their ability to create sparks and therefore embers. Regardless of the method, you cannot be without fire when you truly need it, so, in the end, you will absolutely want to consider these options when creating a list of survival gear.