Fire Steels have been around forever. Before matches, lighters and CGI magic wands. Traditionally, an incredibly patient person gathers the inner bark of a willow tree, 4 years of belly button lint, aged and sun dried jute fibers, and turns that into a sort of birds nest. Then, a fire steel is sparked, and the bird’s nest lights up for half a second, and goes out. If you didn’t start your fire in that time, you were S.O.L.. Do you add that second period if there’s already an unrelated period? I’m going with yes. If anyone wants to email me to correct that, please don’t.
Here’s how to use a fire steel to start a fire in two steps:
- Take normal vaseline and cotton balls. Jam a thumbs’ worth of vaseline into each ball. Get 2 balls for each night you will be out. Procure a 35 mm film canister, or if you are not cool enough to have one, use any small container that says ‘I’m hip’ without saying it outloud. Grandma’s pill bottle, for instance. She’ll never know it’s gone.
- Gather up small sticks. Smaller the better. Sticks that are dead wood on the bottom of pine trees works well. Twigs. Wisps of twigs. Pine needles have no BTUs. Skip. Ditto: leaves. You want them as dry as possible but some moisture is fine if it can’t be avoided. You want say, 4 handfuls, and then some pencil sized sticks and of course your bigger stuff for later.
Pull out your cotton ball and tease some fibers loose, so it looks like King Buzzo’s head. Place that at the center of your proposed fire area, and make a small LOOSE pile of twigs over it. Then build a loose pyramid of pencil sized twigs on top of that. Leave a little door opening for a lock of Buzzo’s hair to stick out. That’s what you are going to light.
This next bit is important. Do a few test strikes. Why? To get a spark, you need to hit the fire steel fast and hard. If you don’t do a test strike out of range of the little pile of sticks, you could easily overstrike, and wack the pile, scattering to the winds of the ages. Then everyone will laugh at you, and your film canister and fancy Finnish fire striker will not save you from your humiliation. You might as well pack up and head home to become a bookmark string threader. Once you know how far your wrist is going to go, and how far the sparks doth fly, you can get right up on the nest and strike the steel. A very hot shower of sparks will hit King Buzzo’s head, and light it on fire. Do not try this with King Buzzo’s actual head, I need him around for mental health reasons.
The cotton ball will burn for about a minute, plenty of time to get your little fire going.
Also works great to safely light alcohol stoves, liquid fuel stoves with priming pans, or as an emergency sparkler for trailside weddings that don't take place out West.
Made in Finland from wood and steel and whatever the striker is made of.