With fall here and winter just around the corner for much of the country, I wanted to take a look at some alternative fire tools. I initially wanted to get a BLASTMATCH simply because it was the most widely advertised and has a ton of good reviews.
I always try to find a BBD (Bigger Better Deal) that can save me money without sacrificing quality and after a bit of research I ran across the Sparkie. It is from the same manufacturer as the Blastmatch but comes in at less than half of the cost. I caught mine on sale from amazon for about $10.00 vs the blastmatch’s average price of $24.99. I got it in the mail in just two days (thank you amazon prime) and like almost any man I opened it without reading the directions and initially thought it was broken. Turns out you just have to squeeze the sides of the sparkie to compress the striker onto the flint. After figuring this out I was quickly making sparks and almost setting my desk on fire.
-Bright hot sparks in seconds
– Spring loaded one handed design allows for the ability to start a fire with minimal dexterity ( great for cold and or wet conditions.
– Neon orange outer shell easy to see and made of a texturized rubber to keep it from slipping
– comes with a single cube of wetfire tinder ( mine came crushed like a powder and I haven’t been able to use it yet) that supposedly will take a spark even in the wettest of conditions.
-Light weight ( under an ounce) and compact design allows for carrying in pocket or in the smallest pocket of your pack.
-because the amount of sparks depends on the pressure you put on it, you don’t always get the same amount of sparks
– It is difficult to find the perfect angle for the sparks to catch light ( recommended at 70 degrees)
– The spring seems a big weak, you have to release and reset your grip on it about every 3-5 attempts
Having the same basic functionality of its bigger brother makes this a really good purchase to keep in your go bag or just to take with you on a camping trip. You can never have too many ways to make a fire and if it is freezing cold and raining outside the first thing to go is the dexterity in your fingers. This nifty little tool will allow you to strike a fire without having to worry about shivering so much that you put out a match or not being able to articulate your fingers enough to strike a lighter. If you feel like spending the extra cash for the added durability of the Blastmatch then go for it, but if you want to keep your budget low and have the same outcome then the Sparkie is a great investment.
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try that brown jute twine one uses for tying in the garden. seperate the 3 strands and seperate each strand into fuzz the fuzz ball will take a spark immediately and flame up nicely.I use this material to teach my boy scouts fire building even the tenderfoots can get a fire going first attempt.
The best homemade tinder I’ve ever used is cotton balls dipped in petroleum jelly that’s been liquified over a double boiler. Squeeze out the excess and allow to cool. Rip cotton ball ‘open’ (to expose lots of individual fibers) and whether you’re using a sparkie or a good old-fashioned flint and steel set, you will have a great fire starter!
BONUS TIP: We bought the smaller ‘jars’ of generic petroleum jelly, melted all of it and dipped enough cotton balls to fill the jar back up! Small enough for a GHB – Get Home Bag – but more than enough to start a LOT of fires. (35mm film canister makes a good container for these too!)
tampons make absolutely fantastic material for catching sparks. they are compact to carry, easy to fluff out and really catch a spark very quickly. haven’t tried the petroleum jelly trick, but sounds like that would go quite well with the tampon!
Tampons and Pads, work great for multiple uses, you can use the tampon as a makeshift straw with the cotton as a filter, and the pads can be used as bandages as well. Quite a bit of use out of them.. just don’t let your wife catch you taking them from the bathroom. That was a hard story to explain to her…
I found a piece of steel (shank) and a piece of flint (found in a stream bed) to produce great sparks for many campfires creating many primitive historical re-inactments. A blacksmith shaped the steel for me for a better grip, but didn’t charge me anything since his fire was already hot. I found an old tin can (I think it was an old shoe polish tin) with tight lid to put cut cotton rag cloth pieces in it, punched a small hole on top and threw it into a fire to make char cloth. I kept the char cloth in the tin, added a piece of twine and dry spruce needles and taped the hole so it stayed tinder dry. I didn’t pay a dime for them. This was 36 years ago before these new fangled things were on the market.
Sometimes foraging for fire starting material is more rewarding when you start with basics and understand what can be found that works with no costs and gives an education. If I had a store-bought fire starter, it may as well be a a butane lighter for a dollar….. both are fire-starters on a budget.