Today, I have been working on a light weight can trying to use it as a wood drier/ fire starter. My first contact with BPL was when I was studying which kind of stove to buy: canister, alcohol, pump and burn or otherwise. So this is an example of continuity of something.
The overall goal is to be able to create a fire with damp, or even wet twigs / wood, leaves, grasses, pine needles, etc. in the fall, winter, spring wet conditions at about 4500 ft. elev. And, without firestarter other than a 5" x 4" piece of newspaper. I keep thinking of the charcoal briquette starters that put newspaper in the bottom and it smolders or ignites and then starts the briquettes.
I took a Monster Energizer can and cut the bottom off. Then, with my camping knife I put some holes in the bottom and lower side.
First, I tried to put newspaper in the bottom and then some pine needles from the ground, pieces of twigs and bigger pieces over the newspaper. (Trying to use the newspaper to dry and start the pine needles, and then the wood pieces.) It almost worked but kept going out or smoking and then dieing down.
Next I put two holes in the side to slip in a pronged piece of grill that I had left over from another project. The idea was to create a platform to lift the pine needles and wood pieces up so there was more air able to get in. The pronged piece is in the pictures below. There were two sets of two small holes poked in the side of the can, opposite each other so I could slide in the pronged piece.
That worked better. But still it would not start damp wood, or not start it well enough to really get a fire going.
Then I dripped some candle wax onto a strip of newspaper, put it in the bottom of the burn area in the can, then some regular newspaper, then some pine needles and finally some damp twigs, etc. That partially worked and got going pretty good, but it still died down too soon to really get other damp wood started.
Finally, I used the wax on a strip on newspaper and newspaper placed under the pronged piece + I added some local sage (which always seems to burn really well in the dry part of the year), then some newspaper over it and pine needles, also damp and picked up off the ground. This time I put in two small pieces of dried wood from by the fireplace inside, since I was getting cold in the 24 F air, and was consternated by burning my fingers and my new top.
That actually started, burned, and I was able to put old pine cone "feathers" into which were damp, but drier than on the ground because I took them off the back porch. That burned and a fire kept going as long as I fed it.
In the process I managed to burn my fingers and a hole in my new wool top. But it was worth it. I got to play Edison for my camping technology, burn my fingers, and put a hole in my new top baselayer -- but my thumb fits through the hole so maybe that makes it worth it -- since now I have a thumb hole to keep the cuff over my hand (in the picture of the bottom of the can).
So what I am wondering is: does anybody have any ideas on how to make a small, lightweight can bottom work to start up a fire by drying pine needles and small bits of damp wood from out in the forest (like I will find when hiking) or some other natural material and be able to with some certainty start a fire? Here are some pictures to go with this: