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Mini bic & Light My Fire questions
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Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
re: bow-drill on 07/11/2012 11:58:00 MDT Print View

Er, uh, ok, brother, you run with that. While you're bow-drilling I'll erect my camp, cook dinner, eat dinner, and get to sleep. Please bow-drill quietly so as not to wake me... :)

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: firesteels on 07/11/2012 13:37:55 MDT Print View

I found that going slower with a little more pressure was better and more controlled than a fast swipe at the firesteel.

Remember too, that your Bic still has some fire starting capability even if it is out of fuel-- it will still throw some sparks and will light a canister or alcohol stove.

I carry a mini firesteel to use if my lighter or matches don't work and that rides on my "key ring survival kit" with an SAK Classic knife, whistle, LED flashlight, and a spy capsule with Tinder Quick tabs in it. I also carry a K&M match case with a small compass in the end. I have a mini bic stowed in my cook kit for daily use. I don't duplicate other gear except fire starting and a pocket knife. I like the security.

I'm liking the new Uco match case with the long storm matches and a striker holder on the outside. It is big enough (1.5"x3") that you could store some other fire starting materials. It comes with 25 matches inside, so you could take a few out and add a "no blow out" joke birthday candle, a handle-less fire steel, dry tinder, etc. It has an o-ring seal and is 1.6oz with the matches. It is low tech and you can hand it to anyone and give them a chance at getting a fire started.

Uco match case

Eileen Duncan
(eileensd) - MLife

Locale: The Sierra or the SF Bay Area
Success! on 07/11/2012 14:19:46 MDT Print View

Tried again (with a bit more confidence and force) and had success with the LightMyFire & my Pepsi can stove! With this method, it seems unnecessary to put any alcohol in the primer pan. My two hiking partners will theoretically have their own fire starter(s), so I feel comfortable bringing just a mini Bic and the LightMyFire. Using the steel is kind of fun, so maybe that'll be my primary... of course, it's heavier than a second mini Bic would be. Hmm.

James: Yeah, while it sounds interesting and certainly a useful skill, I don't think the bow drill method is gonna happen for me. At least not on this trip :)

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
Re: re: bow-drill on 07/11/2012 14:22:40 MDT Print View

Ha ha, nope, I bring a bic lighter, only.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Success! on 07/11/2012 14:41:32 MDT Print View

"With this method, it seems unnecessary to put any alcohol in the primer pan."

You may be missing the point about priming.

It is not a lighting technique. It is a technique for burning a tiny amount of alcohol with the intention of warming up the main load of alcohol so that it will burn better. It also makes it easier to light.

You can often light an alcohol burner without any priming. However, you probably aren't gaining anything by that. If you don't intend to use the priming pan, you might as well rip it off the bottom of the burner. There is a reason why it shows up on many alcohol burners.

You can prove this to yourself by conducting some boil speed tests. Try it with and without priming.


drowning in spam
(leaftye) - F

Locale: SoCal
Re: Re: Success! on 07/11/2012 14:49:50 MDT Print View

Priming isn't always worth it. Without practice or putting the alcohol in a position where it can prime well, priming can use just as much alcohol as directly lighting the stove.

Priming is required with some stoves, like side burner stoves, if you want to light it with a pot sitting on it.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Re: Success! on 07/11/2012 14:55:51 MDT Print View

"Priming isn't always worth it."

That's correct.

I find that it depends on the fuel temperature. On a cold morning with cold fuel, priming is more worthwhile. On a hot day with warm fuel, it is kind of unnecessary. But then, if it is already hot I probably wouldn't want to cook anything anyway. I've known some campers to sleep with the bottle of stove alcohol inside their sleeping bag in order to pre-warm it before breakfast.


Eileen Duncan
(eileensd) - MLife

Locale: The Sierra or the SF Bay Area
Re: Re: Success! on 07/11/2012 16:37:01 MDT Print View

"You may be missing the point about priming."

I think you are correct, Bob. I understood a primer pan aided the ease of lighting the main load of fuel by warming it, but I didn't know this benefit extended throughout the full burn time. In what ways does the alcohol "burn better"? Also, my primer pan is separate from the stove itself, so I'm not sure about ripping out the bottom of the burner. Are some primer pans attached?

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Re: Success! on 07/11/2012 17:00:01 MDT Print View

Yes, some alcohol burners have the primer pan attached, and on others it is separate. In some cases it makes a broader platform for the burner.

I've watched my own burners, and when the fuel is cold, it goes something like this: You ignite the main load of fuel, but it barely burns for a short time. The vapor is lit, but there isn't much happening. Then after 30 seconds or so, it starts to pick up a bit. Then a little more. It takes the darned thing maybe a minute or two just to get the burner going to what I call a normal flame. Then it does the normal boiling job, and then it runs out of fuel.

Alternatively, if I prime it with a very small dose of alcohol, only that primer burns first, and it seems to warm up the main load. Then I ignite the main load, and it seems to get to normal boiling very fast. I don't see that there is much difference in total fuel used, but the time is better.