Of all the requisite skills necessary to survive in a hostile environment, none are quite as important as the ability to build a fire. Making a fire in a civilized setting is as easy as pressing a button on the stovetop. When you are wet, shivering, numb, lost and tired, however, it can be another story. Add to that the fact that whatever gear you are using quite possibly sat unused in your bug-out bag for a decade until it was needed and the situation can become dire.
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The tools for this task are legion, but most come with liabilities. The humble match is a survival staple and the lifeboat version does indeed make a proper flame. However, let them sit in wet conditions for a while and they are not even adequate to pick your teeth. Cigarette lighters are lightweight and easy to use, but they can slowly leak over time and become nothing more than useless baggage. The ferrocerium fire-starter from SOLKOA Survival Systems (S3), by comparison, lasts forever, works just fine when wet and is so easy anyone can use it.
In traditional flint and steel fire-starters, small amounts of steel are actually shaved off by the flint and ignite to form sparks. The ferrocerium used in S3’s Faststrike bar is significantly more efficient. The Faststrike is a variation of the flint and steel our ancestors used, but the main difference between then and now is that the Faststrike bar throws a cascade of sparks suitable to light up any setting. When combined with its attached striker, the Faststrike is the absolute mule of fire-starters.
The 3-inch striking bar has a rubber handle to make it easy to grip, and the striker is a length of hacksaw blade. Prior to its first use, scrape the cutting edge of the blade around and over the Faststrike rod to remove its protective coating. According to S3, the ferrocerium rod is then good for starting approximately 5,000 fires.
Each basic fire-starting kit also comes with a pair of Fastfire tinder cubes. Each cube lights easily with a flash point of only 140 degrees Fahrenheit and burns at around 1,300 degrees. An entire cube burns for around 10 to 12 minutes, but the instructions recommend it be broken into eighths to start multiple fires. This extraordinary material will light readily when cold or wet and cools down almost immediately after being extinguished.
Set your fire and cut about an eighth off of a Fastfire tinder cube. Carve this piece into shavings using the attached hacksaw blade. Fastfire material is about the consistency of soap. Arrange the shavings in a little pile underneath your starter twigs. Hold the Faststrike near the shavings and drag the edge of the hacksaw blade along its length.
The entire rig weighs about an ounce, does not age and operates almost anywhere . When stowed, it takes up basically no space and, given that the striker is a hacksaw blade, will even do quite a few things aside from starting fires. The Fastfire Fire Starting Kit is weatherproof, easy to use and extremely lightweight. No bug-out bag should be without one.
For more information, visit solkoasurvival.com or call 719-634-1687.
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by Jamie Aramini / Feb 25, 2015