Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Fire, GOOOOOD! - A Unique Ultralight Fire Starter

OK, so who doesn't love playing with fire? While many of us are addicted to lighting up alcohol stoves in our kitchens and diligently logging boil times, fire starters are pretty cool too just because they're much more primal. I've experimented with a lot of well-known methods including waterproof matches, flints, cotton balls, dryer lint, and char cloth, but I recently discovered one that took me by surprise. Watch this:

As soon as I saw these Chemfire capsules, I just knew I had to try them. The flame looks strong enough to be able to start a fire even in a downpour and it seems pretty UL. Rest assured, I've got some on the way and there's a video coming soon. Does anyone else have experience with these?
Fire, GOOOOOD! - A Unique Ultralight Fire StarterSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

23 comments:

Mac E said...

The capsule really only ignites the tinder in the same way as a match/lighter and doesn't burn for very long. It might have an application in a survival kit though. I'd be concerned that it could ignite while I was trying to get the capsule back together or still holding it.

TBH I'd prefer to stick with cotton pre-treated by soaking it in melted vaseline, it'll easily catch a spark for a flint/steel and one cotton ball thus treated burns for almost 5 mins.

Wonder what the chemicals used in the capsule are :-)

Some old guy said...

Yeah, it seems cotton soaked in vaseline or a piece of an Esbit tab or something similar would be preferable. One lifeboat match would probably have the same effect as the capsule and be a lot easier to use.

Wandering Photographer said...

Looks like potassium permanganate and ethanol. I was shown this on the Woodsmoke "Woodlander" course a couple of years ago.

I wouldn't want to use this in a survival kit. I can't imagine being able to get the capsule back together with frozen fingers. More likely that I'd just tip the contents of the capsule onto the tinder and then squeeze some catalyst over it.

As for using it as a normal fire starting method ... hmmm, I'd have to try it, but I think I'd probably stick with a ferrocerium rod and the vaseline/cotton combo.

I'll be interested to hear what you think of it when get your hands on it.

stu said...

I have tried this before using glycerine and potassium permanganate.

You can use glycerine that they sell in the supermarket for cake making.
Don't bother buying this gimmic as it is cheaper to make your own.

madrivermachine said...

I've used them before and I have to say I really like them. They don't take up much room at all, Weigh about a gram each, and as long as you keep them dry (and preferably away from the catalyst) they work every time! You do have reassemble it, so cold weather may not be ideal conditions with cold hands. I'd still say try it out, he sells a sample for $3.00 which includes shipping to the U.S.!!

Jason Klass said...

Hey Guys,
I think you bring up some valid points. I just got them today and we'll see. From the video, I think the flame looks a lot stonger and hotter than something like cotton balls.

pemcleod said...

I'd avoid this myself. The idea of carrying it around in the woods and taking a chance something would mix on its own is not for me.

I'm also kind of wondering how he can legally ship this stuff with all the regs on shipping flammable items.

But it would be fun for a magic trick. :o

Carl Lenocker said...

I'm going to stick with Coughlan's Fire Paste.... It's one of the best things I've found for starting a fire even in wet / damp conditions while on the trail, and it's relatively light and cheap. ;)

Jason Klass said...

Hey Everyone, thanks for your comments. I was unable to replicate the results shown in the video. :( I talked to the guy who makes them and he said he thinks it might be the altitude affecting it. Do you think that could be it?

madrivermachine said...

Thanks to the skeptics, He is willing to ship out some samples now for free if you have a Youtube account with a bunch of subscribers, and are willing to make a video of his product with an honest opinion of it. He's doing this to try it at different altitudes, basically a second opinion kind of deal. If anyone (in the U.S.) wants to try it, email him at ChemFire@ymail.com and help spread the word. Thanks for all of your comments, really makes a man think...

Jason Klass said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jason Klass said...

Madrivermachine,
Wow, that's pretty cool. I'd be interested in hearing other people's experiences with this at altitude.

madrivermachine said...

Yeah, I got some from Bill Goodman's Gun and Knife show, It works fine in Dayton Ohio! Although, I carry various fire making tools, this one always gets the 'How in the hell?' factor from the guys at camp...

Anonymous said...

This seems like a pretty expensive "Rube Goldberg" fire starting product. Consider this, my bic lighter and charcoal lighter fluid (15 drops on the rolled up fiber glass patch on the bottom of my backpacking wood stove) will start wet wood. 10 drops will start dry wood. So my 1.3 oz bottle of fluid is good for between 50 and 75 fires. The only motive I can see for using this product is to impress the girls, a valid reason to be sure.

Hendrik M said...

Don't see much sense in using this, cotton balls soaked in vaseline are cheaper, potentially less dangerous to human health (no idea what it is in the capsules) and the environment and I don't need to order them.

Ghislaine said...

Wow that was really cool.. I didn't expect to see the capsule burst into flames. Might be really useful on a camping trip. I actually went on a camping trip last month and while driving my tire burst leaving me in a really complicated mess since I don't know how to change a tire. After Several hours I finally figured it out but saw this video recently and just wish I had seen it before. http://www.howcast.com/videos/114840-How-To-Change-a-Flat-Tire

Highway Hiker said...

As far as environmental aspects, the Potassium Permanganate is used to clean water in fish ponds (Oxidizer), and the Glycerin is derived from vegetables. Keep in mind, You would absolutely die if you were to swallow a capsule...

I got mine yesterday and they work just as good as in the video. I like them and they work great in northern New York state.

I won't use them as a primary, but as a backup, they are small, and unique. The seller was great on communication!

Jason Klass said...

Highway,
That's great you had a good experience with them. Can I ask if you think the fact that you're at a lower elevation has anything to do with it?

Highway Hiker said...

To Jason:
It could be. Fire needs oxygen, and up in elevation may thwart the reaction of the 2 chemicals...
I just ordered some more! 4th of July fun ahead. Big camping trip, Vacation, Can't wait!!!

Scotty said...

Cute trick but not rocket science (as described in other posts). You could make your own if you wanted to carry that kind of hazard aroudn with you. My concern is with the safety of the stuff.

Given that the Permanganate will combust when combined with a lot of different chemicals, including the alcohol in hand sanitizer, I'm not sure I'd want it rattling loose in my pack. Sanitizer itself (jellied alcohol) makes a perfectly good starter.

Here is the "Terms of Use" warning from ChemFire's web page:
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Must be 18 or older to purchase!!

HAZARDOUS CHEMICAL: This item may not be compatible with other hazardous materials.

Hazardous chemicals can only be shipped to the 48 US states.

This item is in compliance with United States Postal Service Publication 52 guidelines.

Shipping will comply with all USPS regulations.

Item will be shipped by consumer commodity ORM-D."

Duane said...

It's a straight chemical reaction between the two components. I doubt altitude has anything to do with it. Check with any prof at your local University chem dept to be sure.

As said by others, KMNO4 is a vigourous oxidizer. Will stain hands and anything it comes in contact with.

Carry a 49g trial size of Vaseline and 30 TP sheets in a ziplock and you will be only out a $1.00 for a month of fire starting

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