If you want a self-contained fire starter that you can rely upon to get a fire going when you need it the most, the homemade Uber match is where it's at, in my opinion.
To be sure, a Uber match is a near brilliant mesh of DIY materials that you may find around the house (matches, cotton balls, wax) and a bit of ingenuity. I can safely say that there are few other materials you can use to make one with such simplicity.
Trust me, I've tried many options to create a better Uber match and wound up going back to the basics, if you will. I'll explain in a moment.
How to Make An Uber Match Fire Starter:
Follow these simple instructions, and you will have super fire starters ready to go in no time.
Supplies You Will Need:
- four matches
- one cotton ball
- string (optional, but it made my life easier)
- melted wax
Short (Uber) Version
Step 1: Unravel the cotton ball
Take a regular cotton ball and unravel it so it's about as tall as the match and significantly wider. The original instructions said to “split it in half” and do some other stuff but this method is a bit easier for me. Just be careful when unraveling as it can pull apart rather easily the more you unravel:
Step 2: Roll matches into cotton ball
Take one match, place at one side of the unraveled cotton ball, and roll it so the match is completely covered in cotton. Don't go overboard here because you need more cotton than you might think for the rest of the rolling process:
Continue rolling in the other matches one by one like this remembering to leave a bit of a gap between the matches; this should be a problem because there should be cotton between the matches:
When finished they'll look like this:
Step 3: Tie it together (optional) and dip in melted wax
The original instructions said to dip one end in melted wax, wait a bit for it to harden, then dip the other end in completely and wait to harden. That was too much waiting for me so I simply tied a string around the middle of the matches and dipped the entire Uber match into the melted wax. If you don't mind being patient, do as the original article instructs.
Now, on to making this idea even better…
Like I said, I tried all sorts of ideas, from drilling holes into fire bricks for matches and cotton to matches inserted into dowel rods (don't ask), it's hard to find anything better than the original, but I tried anyway.
Let's first remember what the entire point in a Uber match was and, near as I can tell, the point is to utilize DIY materials you can find from around the house to create a self-contained fire-starter in as small of a package as possible.
In fact, the original Uber match is completely self-contained and burned, by my tests, for 7-8 minutes whereas the original article suggests 5-7 minutes. My purpose in trying to make it better was to (1) use less materials if possible and (2) make it last longer, preferably twice as long or longer.
Ultimately, I wasn't able to use less overall material but I did feel like four matches were a bit much for this purpose. Instead, I choose to use two long reach matches, two cotton pads, string like before, and melted wax. Here's what I did, affectionately called the “Super Uber” match…
Long (Super Uber) Version
Step 1: Cut and place long reach matches onto cotton pads
Step 2: Finish wrapping pads and tie in place
Step 3: Dip in wax and set aside
The last step is to melt wax (I used candle wax) over low heat then dip the newly created Super Uber match into the wax all at once. Ensure you turn the Super Uber match around to coat the entire match. When finished, set aside on something that you don't care much about such as a piece of aluminum foil and let harden.
To Use the “Super” Uber Match
Use it just like you would a regular Uber match. The difference is that it should last easily twice as long as a normal Uber match because of the built-in fire break as shown here:
You see, the thing with these types of matches (or any fire-starter that I can think of) is that after about four or five minutes you'll find the fire wants to creep across the top of the Uber match and begin to consume all the match from the top. If I didn't have the “fire break” between the two ends (where there's no cotton and wax) the fire would have eventually crept across the entire top of the Super Uber match and consumed it quicker. The “fire break” effectively slows this process down. Now I have two fire starters in one!
In review, I was able to use two matches instead of four and though I used two cotton pads as opposed to one cotton ball, I think it was a fair tradeoff considering the Super Uber match lasts over twice as long.
The Super Uber match may not be revolutionary, but I do feel it's a significant improvement.
For more from Damian, click here!
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For more fire tips, check out these posts:
How To Build A Fire
17 Wicked Ways To Start A Fire
What To Do When You Need A Fire Fast
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