Alcohol Stove - Can bottom for fire starter
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Joe Kuster
(slacklinejoe) - MLife

Locale: Flatirons
Alcohol Stove - Can bottom for fire starter on 12/21/2006 13:31:15 MST Print View

I just read and interesting article on turning the bottom of a soda can into a parabolic mirror for fire starting capabilities. Results seemed pretty consistant - if bright light existed you'd get smouldering tinder in 1-2 minutes.

http://www.wildwoodsurvival.com/survival/fire/cokeandchocolatebar/

Anyone going to start polishing the bottoms of their alcohol stoves "just in case"?

J R
(RavenUL) - F
Re: Alcohol Stove - Can bottom for fire starter on 12/21/2006 14:39:37 MST Print View

Ive tried this before in a few survival classes. I cannot stress enough how big of a royal pain in the butt this is to use to start a fire. But if you use jewelers rouge, it doesnt take that long to polish up the can bottom, and it might maybe work for you. The big problem with sun based survival fire starters is that when its bad enough that your dipping into super-emergency fire starting skills, its usually dark, cold, wet, and windy.

Joe Kuster
(slacklinejoe) - MLife

Locale: Flatirons
Re: Re: Alcohol Stove - Can bottom for fire starter on 12/22/2006 11:32:41 MST Print View

I totally agree with the dark, wet and cold statement. If I ever need to make a fire it's almost always the single worst time to try and use sun based methods - well any method actually.

I dunno though, I've had decent luck with sun based methods as adding an extra tool in my mental toolbox. Once I used magnifying lenses (someone's prescription glasses) to start a camp fire in moderate conditions when our gear made a dump in the water on a multi-day canoing trip. The main dry bag was torn during getting the canoe lodged under rocks so we were pretty screwed as we lost most of our supplies. This is of course before I really learned the necessity of keeping the important gear on your person.

I would say however that polishing up the bottom of pop-can stoves would be useful if you need a enlarging mirror for say debriement of facial cuts when your solo, with the "possible" side benefit of fire starting. With of course no additional weight - heck, it might even shave off a bit of weight off the stove.

Edited by slacklinejoe on 12/22/2006 11:38:53 MST.

J R
(RavenUL) - F
Re: Re: Re: Alcohol Stove - Can bottom for fire starter on 12/22/2006 12:20:51 MST Print View

Dont get me wrong, its a great zero-weight tool to have, its just not something to rely on as a fire starter for when you REALLY need to be warm and dry.

Jim Colten
(jcolten) - M

Locale: MN
Re: Alcohol Stove - Can bottom for fire starter on 12/22/2006 12:36:39 MST Print View

Dont get me wrong, its a great zero-weight tool to have, its just not something to rely on as a fire starter for when you REALLY need to be warm and dry.

That fire starter idea is interesting and certainly imaginative but ....

To elaborate a bit on the comment above, if we were evaluate gear on a value/weight basis and your trip were such that you MUST be able to start a fire under adverse conditions then a reflector fire starter has zero value and .....

0/wt = 0 for all values of wt

so I wouldn't find UL value in the idea


(for the mathematically inclined, yes I know that 0/0 is undefined rather than zero but who am I to let a bit of math theory get in the way of a good quip;-)

J R
(RavenUL) - F
Re: Re: Alcohol Stove - Can bottom for fire starter on 12/22/2006 12:52:34 MST Print View

Its not a 0/0 though. There is a use for it, in fact potential multiple use, for a zero weight gain. The use is minimal, yes, but if you are using a pop-can stove, can you think of a reason (factoring weight and potential use) NOT to polish the bottom of your stove?

I dont use a pop-can stove so its not a factor for me in any way... but three uses out of one stove for zero weight gain is better than one use for the same weight, no?

James Yancey
(jyancey) - F

Locale: Missouri
Can bottom firestarter on 12/25/2006 19:11:53 MST Print View

I have used the bottom of a Snowpeak 110 canister as a parabolic mirror to ignite tinder (shredded cedar bark) which I then used to light my campfire. Roll very finely shredded, very dry bark to create a "cigarette." Hold the end of the roll at the focal point in bright sunlight. When it ignites it will create a glowing ember. Place the ember in a "birdsnest" of more bark and gently blow it into flame. Place the flaming wad of bark under a pile of small dry twigs and add progressively larger sticks for a roaring fire.

I have tried the polished soda can trick, but it requires a tremendous amount of work, and all I ever got was small amounts of smoke. In a true survival situation, though, it would be worth pursuing if that was absolutely the only method available to make fire.

Incidently, I carry a credit-card size plastic Fresnel lens in my wallet as a potential survival tool. It has very reliably started many fires, although, obviously, one needs to have bright sunlight available for it to work.

Joe Kuster
(slacklinejoe) - MLife

Locale: Flatirons
May cause less reliance on limited use methods on 01/02/2007 12:57:07 MST Print View

Well, if things go south, you need a fire, have limited backup matches or limited use strikers or etc, and have good daylight it might be more ideal to take the mirror approach than to use up your limited firestarting supplies.

For the most part however, I'd consider it all "academic" rather than practical, but for those OCD planners & gear obsessed folk it's an extra thing they can do with something they are already carrying.