Saturday, June 10, 2006
A magnesium alloy which is a must for any survival pack. These are typically called magnesium Firestarters. The particular firestarter that I am talking about is the one made by Light My Fire. They have 2 models - an army model and a cadet model. Any decent survival kit be it Military Survival Kit, Combat Survival Kit, Penrith Survival tin, etc has some variation of a magnesium based Firestarter (the first 2 kits are from BCB International). These look similar to the one shown below (from the Penrith Survival Tin).
I will use the term Firesteel exclusively for the one sold by Light My Fire. FireSteel is an alloy of Seven metals and produces sparks of 3000°C. The army model is supposed to last for more than 12,000 strikes which is enough to last a lifetime. Cotton burns like magic with firesteel (try cotton first time). My first attempts to start a flame using Paper shreds and even Mayadust resulted in my being disapointed in FireSteel as a fire starter. Also, I almost shaved of half of my Firesteel (shown in the pic top right) in my attempts. There was something wrong with the pack of mayadust that I got. I guess it was too old and the pine resin dried off. One day I wanted to try out a knife and shaved of some fine shreds of the MayaSticks and just thought to give FireSteel another try and voila I had a glorious fire. I tried this out a couple of times more just to be sure this was a reliable way to start a fire, if I was actually caught in a survival situation... yes, it worked everytime. I still can't light the MayaDust that I bought. Shown below is the faulty MayaDust I own. To clarify I recieved my MayaDust and MayaSticks from lightmyfire.se and not lightmyfireusa.com. Next to it are MayaSticks, these are good.
The MayaSticks burn for a long time and produce a really hot flame. And if you have the patience and the guts you can use a knife to produce small fresh shavings from it to start a fire using FireSteel (impressive isn't it?). Well for some smart Alec's out there who may ask why not just use a match or a lighter to start a flame... bloody damn right why not. Well the reasons why one has a magnesium alloy based FireStarter in almost all survival packs that I have seen so far are 1) Matches can get wet and are very limited in number 2) Lighter has limited fuel 3) Both matches and a lighter can easily stop working in extreme situations. FireSteel on the other hand is a lifetime supply of sparks and can produce sparks even when wet and well one has to really think of a way "to actually" make a rod of metal alloy malfunction. lastly but not the least it has a high geek value. See video of me lighting cotton tinder with FireSteel below.
Update 26th June 2006: See Another video of me starting a fire using Mayastick shavings.
IWOOT - £12.95
Light My Fire USA