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tkkn c
(tkknc) - MLife

Locale: Desert Rat in the Southwest
BSA vs Scout Steel on 06/12/2008 20:25:28 MDT Print View

Here is a picture of the BSA and the Scout Sparker compared.

I just ran a test between the two and the amount of spark they throw is more dependant on the technique than the sparker.
If I got a good strike on either steel, the sparks were comparable. If the strike was poor, the sparks were not very strong. I prefer to use a knife blade. The knife blade does not work well as well on the scout steel as on the BSA steel. I use a twisting motion as I pull the sparker away from the tinder.
If you push the blades down the steel you just tend to hit your tinder putting out the sparks/flame. I carry the BSA sparker.


Edited by tkknc on 06/18/2008 15:55:26 MDT.

Jim Ford
(jimford) - F - MLife

Locale: DFW
BSA hotspark on 06/12/2008 23:03:21 MDT Print View

Before my BSA hotspark, I had an SOS firestarter (ferrocerium rod embedded in a block of pitchwood). It worked great, and I got addicted to it, practicing going from spark to flame for any reason at all, even before brushing my teeth in the morning (at home!). Finally grew out of that phase (well, sorta….).

The problem I encountered was that I started off using full strokes along the sparking rod, and this caused a little bit of a gouge to develop in the middle of the rod, eventually causing my striker to 'snag' before it got to the bottom of the rod where my tinder was, making my firestarting attempts a little more problematic. This wasn’t a flaw of the product, just in my initial technique in using it. So this bit of advice is - don't start your sparking strokes from the top of the sparking rod. Start pretty close to the bottom of the rod, and press down with a short, slow & firm stroke. The sparks will be plenty, it will limit your tendency to ‘smother’ your sparks/tinder, the sparks will land much more accurately on your tinder, and you won't ruin your firstarter’s rod by gouging it in the middle.

Also, I'd recommend replacing the striker included with most firestarters with a short bit of hacksaw blade. I never cared for the striker that the BSA Hotspark came with, and that tiny bit of chopped-off hacksaw blade I swapped it out with gives a better shower of sparks. I'd really avoid using a knife blade as a scraper (hacksaw blades are cheaper and lighter). You can also drill holes in your hacksaw blade if you're that desperate to save grams.

And of course, there’s the cost savings. I bought 4 of the BSA hotsparks for $10, so I’ve always got one with me.

Andy Bailey
(AndyBailey) - F

Locale: The Great Plains
Trouble with firesteels on 06/18/2008 08:57:56 MDT Print View

Hey guys, I guess I don't know why you have had trouble lighting cotton balls with a firesteel? I have never had trouble lighting cotton balls with my firesteel! You guys do know that the firesteel comes coated with paint and that it won't throw decent sparks until that coating is scraped off, right?

Guthrie Abbott
(GuffAbbott) - F

Locale: Southeast U.S.
Firesteel Use - It's All in the Tinder on 06/18/2008 20:36:26 MDT Print View

Having used firesteels of one type or other for many years, I humbly offer the following tips to those who feel “firesteel challenged” – It’s All in the Tinder:

- Whatever fibrous tinder you choose, make sure the end you are trying to ignite is frayed a bit so it can easily ignite – and add an accelerant (wax, Vaseline,etc.) if you can.

- The best method for using the firesteel is to hold the striker still and pull the firesteel back toward yourself. That way you won't knock your tinder across the ground.

- I concur with Jim Ford in his previous post -- a piece of hacksaw blade is the best striker -- lightweight and effective.

- The Tinder-Quik tabs (sold on this website) are excellent.

- Dryer lint works well, too. My patient bride collects it for me, and I add some beads of wax from a candle-making set and mix them together. That improves dryer lint performance immensely.

- Another very cheap and effective tinder (and my personal favorite) is using 1/4 ball of cotton with petrolatum jelly (Vaseline) worked in. I have a small Nalgene container (2 oz., I believe) that hold LOTS of the little Vaseline cotton balls.

- I tested another type of tinder about a week ago, and it worked great! Instead of Vaseline, I worked a small amount of Chapstick into 1/4 ball of cotton. It worked exactly like the Vaseline cotton balls. (This was good news for me, as I always have Burt’s Bees Lip Balm in my pocket).

- Although it is probably the heaviest (and most expensive) firesteel on the market, my absolute favorite is the BlastMatch made by Ultimate Survival. It is an integral unit designed to be used in one hand. It takes a bit of practice to ignite the tinder without knocking it around, but once you’ve got it down, it’s amazing. The Blast Match creates an enormous shower of concentrated sparks – far more than any other firesteel I have ever used.

- When all else fails, Wet Fire Tinder (also from Ultimate Survival) will light nearly anything. Just crumble a bit off of one corner, ignite the crumbs with your firesteel, and then use those flaming crumbs to ignite the cube of tinder.