View Full Version : Why Why why!

05-01-2012, 06:05 PM
Right, Today I went out armed with my swedish volcano stove, Zippo Lighter, tinder (Black fungi balls, forgot what theyre called). Intending to have a brew while doing a bit of work in the outdoors. During the day I had collected deadwood off of the floor in my local woods. Well with lunch time approaching I decided to get my fire started in the stove to warm up some water, No matter i say no matter what I did the fire just wouldnt catch, I caught fire to the black ball and it was glowing I put some dry bark and shavings and blew and blew and blew and blew to no avail. I then reached in to my survival tin and got out a tampon (I know desperate measures) and added that to my failing fusion that burnt out, I drunk my milk and gave up the idea of brew, I tell you I was so pissed off you wouldnt believe there was no reason why it couldnt catch if just wouldnt :(, Any advice would be greatly appreciated :)

05-01-2012, 06:17 PM
well I use cotton wool balls or them plate shaped and dip them in wax from a candle or drip the wax onto it and it burns longer also keeps the cotton wool dry :D hope that was helpful got it off a video on youtube.

05-01-2012, 06:29 PM
Thanks Matt, The fire spark wasnt the problem it was the catching which it would do, how do you insure the wood catches fire?

05-01-2012, 06:54 PM
Dont take your wood off the floor of the wood you wont dead standind off a dead tree, try that next time,,,,,,,,,not off the floor:campfire:

Ben Casey
05-01-2012, 06:59 PM
I would agree with Tony it sounds like it was damp and a tampon goes up like mad so I cant understand why that didnt burn. Take a little bit of meths with you I find that helps in all situations :D

05-01-2012, 07:04 PM
Darn i didnt think of that, I normally do carry my trangia

05-01-2012, 07:22 PM
Maybe all the wind we've been having was too much for the gentle sensibilities of a starting flame?

05-01-2012, 07:41 PM
Sometimes the humidity in the air actually makes ignition difficult, you'd be surprised how much this affects combustion even if you're not in a rain forest (I don't think people really realise this!), it happens but It's good that it does if you learn from it

05-01-2012, 07:51 PM
In the pouring rain, over the Christmas holiday, I managed to light a fire in my Honey Stove using just a tissue as tinder and my Light My Fire mini firesteel. The most important factor is collecting enough dry kindling to get a decent blaze going. Like I said, it had been pouring with rain all day but there was still plenty of dry, fine twigs in the trees. Some of them were wind fallen that had lodged in the lower branches and some of them were dead twigs at the end of branches of living trees.

I collect three bundles, about a good handful of each, in sizes ranging from match stick thickness up to little finger thickness. Once the tissue was well alight, which was no easy task with no form of accellerant, I put half the bundle of match stick sized kindling on and kept topping that up until the first bundle was gone. Following that, the fire was giving off plenty of heat so I was able to feed in the second, thicker, bundle and finally move on to the finger thickness stuff.

This method never fails for me but I usually use Vaseline impregnated cotton wool balls as my tinder. Sadly, I left my pot of cotton wool balls on the kitchen unit just before I left the house so I never had them with me. :(

The key to lighting the fire is in the preparation of both the tinder and then the kindling. Remember, if you fail to prepare, prepare to fail!!!


05-01-2012, 07:58 PM
Thankyou martin that is very good advice, You know, I bought a Volcano stove after seeing you using one ( Not in person, in picture)

05-01-2012, 08:11 PM
Thankyou martin that is very good advice, You know, I bought a Volcano stove after seeing you using one ( Not in person, in picture)

They're great stoves aren't they? How did you get on with it?


05-01-2012, 09:19 PM
Yeah ive had two fires in it :) good stove just a bit topsy turvy in the wind

06-01-2012, 07:54 AM
Sounds to me like you didn't have any tinder.
From what you say it sounds like you went straight from the ember (the cramp ball fungi - that black round thing you had) to kindling (twigs, sticks etc).
What you need to do is put your ember into some tinder. You could use cotton wool (as has already been suggested), dry grass or any other tinder you have to hand.
You also have to make sure the tinder is prepared properly. It's not just a matter of having these things and expecting them to work, you have to know how to use them properly. In the case of cotton wool or a tampon, you need to tease the wool out to at least twice its size. This will let air in to feed the flame. Then place your ember inside the tinder, close the tinder around it, and them blow.
Just plonking the ember in your stove and placing the tinder on top and blowing is not enough.
Add to this the fact that the surrounding air may be damp and cold (thus taking any energy out of your ember) and it becomes even more difficult. So add more tinder! Also, when it's been cold and wet, picking up dead wood from the floor is not the best fuel. Dead STANDING wood is what you want. And even then you may have to strip the bark and split it.
Unfortunately there were a LOT of reasons your fire wouldn't catch.
These things are a hell of a lot easier to demonstrate than explain.
However, you did the right thing - practising in difficult conditions! Anyone can light a fire in the middle of summer when everything is dry. But when you really need a fire (in the wet and cold) is when it's most difficult to make. And so it's under those conditions you should practice!
To me it sounds like what let you down is lack of preparation and lack of practice. Just because you have all the correct ingredients it doesn't mean you'll get perfect results.
The idea that you can sit down and get a fire going in no time is a myth. Not helped by TV programmes where time and editing offers no time to show how much preparation it takes. You need to plan ahead and prepare.
At least you know that now. Keep practising, and keep practising in cold and wet conditions. Come Summer you'll be a fire-demon!

06-01-2012, 08:22 AM
Mors Kochanski suggest as a rule of thumb when making a fire
For Fine tinder (think needle sized twigs stuff) pinch your thumb to your middle finger and fill that hole with really fine tinder (at the moot, he had twigs the size of his palm)
For less fine tinder (slightly smaller than a pencil) hold your two hands thumb to thumb middle finger to middle finger and the make a circle (twigs twice the length of his palm)
For kindling (thickness of his thumb) shake your own hand and the circle made is how big a bunch of kindling rods you need (he didn’t have any there, but from watching a video of Mors in his younger days shown by Stuart at the moot, the bunch should be roughly knee to nipple in length)

Logs, again he didn’t have any there at the talk but did say that if you have a saw, they should be as tall as you and you need at least three, if you have no saw then burn them to the length you want, by using a star shaped fire.

I know that not much help if you are trying to light a small brew fire, but his point (and mine as well) is you need more twigs and tinder and kindling than you think you do, I’d say I use roughly four times as much as I used to of each type now and get a decent fire every time, compared with what I used back when I couldn’t guarantee a fire lighting let alone staying alight when Eventually I managed to get it lit in the first place. YMMV

Dan XF
06-01-2012, 08:26 AM
Try the videos on here for fire lighting they are very good. If you are in managed woodland look for newish stumps and get your self some Maya wood as this seems to burn very well no matter how humid the air. There is a video on this too. I like cotton wool with maya wood, then add some dry fir cones if you can find them. They smoke a bit but are quite resinous and give off lots of heat and burn quickly. If you decide to use them for your main burning material make sure you have plenty of them to hand as they burn so fast you'll get through a load just heating a pint of water. On the Wayland website he uses fir cones dipped in wax with a cotton wick. He reckons one can burn for about 10 mins. I haven't tried this out so it's just hearsay but it would seem that a 2 or 3 of them in your pocket would be a good fuel source for a brew or 2.

06-01-2012, 09:22 AM
Sounds as if your tinder was cold too. Don't forget the triangle for fire; oxygen, fuel, heat equals fire! If your fuel is cold it takes a great deal more effort to ignite it.


07-01-2012, 09:44 PM
Heya guys today I followed all your replies and had fantastic results here the pictures to proove, since this thread ive boiled 7 cups of water and lit fires using shredded tampons, tissue paper, envelope paper and cramp balls
Pics: 3437

07-01-2012, 10:14 PM

07-01-2012, 11:02 PM
Result!! :)


20-01-2012, 10:01 PM