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Sunday, April 8, 2018

Metal Match



A metal match or fire steel, is a collection metals designed to throw off sparks when scraped with a piece of steel. Often they are formed into rods and come with a small steel striker. That's the type I've been using for years now. They are not to be confused with a flint and steel.

A metal match is what I use to start my Coleman gas stoves and propane grill 99% of the time. There are a couple of advantages to using one. They throw a good shower of sparks a good distance. Sure beats using a Bic lighter and getting the hair burned off the back of my hand. They also work when soaking wet. That's one of the things that make them so useful as a survival tool.

While they start stoves and grills instantly, it takes a bit more work to start a campfire with one. Sure, they throw a lot of hot sparks, but you need something to catch those sparks. Crumpled up paper works, if you've got it. The key is to get those sparks to land into the folds of the paper where their heat can do some good. I've also used very dry pine needles or thin strips of birch bark. I recommend practicing with one to find what works for you. A char cloth cloth would be ideal. However, I always thought that if you had the foresight to prepare a char cloth, you'd have the foresight to bring a regular lighter. That's why I practice with stuff I happen to have with me or things I find in the woods.

Right now I travel with two metal matches. One is on my key chain It was a smaller size. Over the years it's shrunk to less than half its original length. My second one is bigger and bulkier and is kept with my camp stoves.

The metal match is one of those “survival tools” that I use all the time. Even at home I'll sometimes use one to start the woodstove. If you use one all the time you get good with it. Should a true survival situation come up you'll be able to make a fire while wet and with half frozen fingers.

-Sixbears

8 comments:

  1. I find one of those long-necked grill lighters handy. Also, the lint from the filter of your clothes drier makes great tinder.

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    1. Those long necked lighters don't seem to last long enough for my liking. I get a lot of use out of metal matches. Long life is important.

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  2. Practise is important with any fire steel. Learning is paramount with such a tool, in my opinion.

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    1. Being able to make fire is a life saving skill.

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  3. Also check the metal match lighter, the one with the striker immersed in lighter fluid, a rubbed against the spark rod on side. One scratch and you get about 20 seconds of a match-like flame. Great for lighting kerosene lanterns, stoves and the like. I wondered how long the fuel would last if left alone and the unit lasted a bit over a year ! Pretty good service I think. I get about 40 lights out of my unit before it begins to sputter out, requiring another filling.

    Spark rods will last longer, but they shoot sparks that sometimes require preparation with tinder. I have a couple of ferro rods and PET balls (Petroleum Jelly mixed with cotton balls) works great, but is messy to store.

    Good topic - Fire is necessary when camping, even if just a spark.

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    1. Never tried the lighter type but now maybe I will.

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    2. They surprised me too. Bought them at a discount knife catalog some years back, thought they wouldn't work but I was wrong. Purchased a few more, just to have on hand if they stop making them. It works that way with me - I get to liking something and they stop making them available. Rule of the Universe or something I guess.

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    3. Well, I'd better get mine quickly, before they go away.

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