Fire, depending on the environment and the need for immediate lifesaving warmth, is one of the most important survival tools a person needs. Now, most of us have some fire skills. I have made fire with primitive bow drills I’ve made myself; I’ve used ferrite rods, fuzz sticks, and all that. I have confidence in my ability to create fire in most every way imaginable. I always have a ferrite rod on my keychain and generally carry lighter most places I go. So I’m covered. I’ve worked with my boys and they can easily start fire with ferrite rods. However, not everyone I know has that ability, or has practiced as long as I have to earn the skill to do it. And as much as I try to teach people, I know that some will not be able to garner the skill to do it without (and even some with) a lighter, dry kindling and a few squirts of gasoline.
I have a couple of these old Crossman pellet screw lid metal tins left over from pellets the boys have long since shot off in their pellet guns. I got to thinking these would make good little survival tins because I’ve never had much luck with the Altoids tins (Which seem to get crushed or break the hinges on me, or pop open in packs) and they are far from waterproof. I threw some tissue paper in one of these tins and stuck it in the sing upside down (So the threads were up to allow as much leaking as possible) under 6 inches of water for 2 hours. Not a bit of dampness made it inside the tin. (These are not sealed, they just screw down tight) Adding a bead of silicone under the lid would make them absolutely waterproof. I even pinched the can a couple times under water to suck water past the threads and that barely drew any moisture to the outermost edge of the tissue paper in the can. I was incredibly happy that this worked so well. Now these things are also available without purchasing the pellets (But if you have pellet guns, might as well get them for double duty). There is a place online at http://www.bepreparedtosurvive.com/Misc.Conatiners.htm that offers similar tins for $1.20. However, the pellets can be had at Walmart for $4.88, (that’s what I paid for the two I have right now) so if you have pellet guns and are going to be stocking up on pellets anyway. Might just as well get the tins and pellets together.
Now, I wanted fire kits that were durable and easy for someone who doesn’t know much about fire building to be able to use and effectively make fire. I also wanted them to work in really wet situations and be cheap enough I could throw them in every pack and vehicle we own as well as to give away a half dozen to each person I know to store in their own vehicles, packs or even just the kitchen junk drawer.
The list of items is below. Now this is not the best items, these are the cheapest items I could find that work. I’m sure there are better versions of each of the items in this kit. Also, I wanted all off shelf stuff that was easily available. No char cloth etc. that would take extra time to make and probably be wasted on someone who’s never used it before.
First I added some of the cheap Coleman fire sticks. I like these because they are cheap, premade and they work. One stick broken into 3 chunks fits easily in the can. Then I packed as much dryer lint into the can as I could. Dryer lint is free (I have gallons of the stuff as I keep it all from the dryer). It lights easily with any form of spark, ferrite rods work great on it. Then I threw in some waterproof matches (Just in case any humidity did manage to breach the can). And a small strip of waterproof sandpaper so that there would be something to strike the matches on.
Presto, quick simple effective and extremely durable fire kit. Overall the price is broken down per tin as I purchased locally are:
- Tins – $1.20 if purchased individually
- Dry Lint – Free
- Fire Sticks ($2.00 a dozen) or $.16 cents each
- Matches ($5 per 420 matches, I used 12 per tin) Less than $.15 cents per tin
- Sandpaper, $2.60 for a pack with 4 sheets that will do 60 tins, roughly $.04 cents per tin.
Total $1.55 per tin.
Pretty cheap and easy enough for anyone to use.
I’d be happy to see other suggestions of ways to improve on this tin so please comment away.