Hold Your Fire
I know a guy who can start a fire in over a dozen different ways that don’t involve matches. He’s one of those amazingly competent guys who’s great to have on camping trips. Not to start the fire, of course, but to amaze everyone with ways you CAN start the fire. He can do the Rubbing-Two-Sticks together thing (which isn’t of course, two sticks) and the Striking-Sparks-Off-A-Rock thing and all the others. He’s the guy that the Mythbusters SHOULD have had on the show when they tried to start a fire with friction between two pieces of wood. In the end, the Mythbusters said the ‘myth’ was busted, I believe, and I quit watching so much. I’ve even started a fire in my basement with so little effort as to be one of those things you see on the evening news “Local man (toadstool-headed moron) sets fire to own home in bizarre accident.” I was moving things around and dropped a bit of steel wool onto the rechargeable drill battery. Bam. Fire. If you ever go back in time and have to rule a clan of cavemen as a magician, you better have steel wool and a battery with handy terminals. It’s visually impressive- fire crawling along the metal fibers.
Anyhow, there are lots of people who like to start their campfires in various and sundry ways. Typically best is, of course, to lay out your tinder, kindling, and fuel all Boy Scout fashion then reach for a lighter. Unless of course you’re too macho for lightering your fire and you want to show that it can be done with a single match. I’ve done it a couple of times. Once to see if I could and once at Webelo Den Leader Training. There were a bunch of us leaders there, and you’ve never seen a fire so confidently started with one match, I can tell you. If you were trapped in an avalanche with wet feet and were five minutes from death and had one match, you’d want to pull this crowd of Cub Scout Akelas out of your pack, man, ’cause we were ON it.
Living where I do, the whitewater must be travelled to. And hotels are boring, plus you hate to either slop through the lobby in stinking dripping kayak gear or , y’know, pay them to sleep there. So my buddies and I camp out on our kayak trips, which means campfires. At one point, we had hats made up for our group. The hats had the logo on the front, like usual, but unusually, they had a little pocket on the side of the cap. It had a zipper to close it up and everything. And it absolutely sucked for putting your driver’s license into- it’d FIT, but barely, which made getting it out a horror, plus it then would have the same curvature as your head, which was weird and made the cops look at you funny. The pocket would hold money pretty well, but if were coins, your head sorta jingled. That was distracting. And if you kept bills in there, they came out smelling like they had been alive at some point and now weren’t. No, we decided, that little pocket was for FIRE. Bottom line of this story? There was a group of people who, for a while at least, when asked for a light would automatically reach up to the right side of their own heads. Odd behavior.
There are even different sorts of lighters. You can get the classic Bic, or the micro Bic or the cheapo gas station lighter with the infuriating child-proofing. If you’re camping out of a big box or out of your car, or if you’re pulling a grill so large that it has its own tires, you might prefer one of those wand-type lighters that keep your had a few inches from whatever it is you’re trying to light. If you’ve ever tried to start a fire with slightly damp material while using a regular ol’ cigarette-style Bic, you might find that having a lighter that doesn’t cook your thumb a handy thing to keep around. They even make those cool butane lighters that are supposed to be windproof and waterproof. They cost a lot, though, and that rankles when you actually melt one while using it. (Honestly, if that seems like an issue for you? Get a tube of fire paste. Hilarious stuff. Light it and get your hand the heck out of the way. And you don’t need Tinder so much. It’s the safer way to carry gasoline in your backpack. Just remember to take it out before going through an airport. Security does NOT like fire paste.)
So. How do YOU hold your fire?
Here you go- classic Bic. Do what the clever folk do. Get about FIFTY, and scatter them throughout the house, that way when you need to fuse the end of a nylon rope while you’re standing around in the spare bedroom- and who hasn’t- then you just grab one of the lighters sitting festively all around the place.