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Cheap/free firestarting

 
master steward
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Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
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charles johnson "carbonout" wrote:
2 drops cheap Hand Sanitizer



Saywhat?

That stuff is flammable?

 
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The active ingredient in hand sanitizers may be isopropanol, ethanol, or n-propanol. Inactive ingredients in alcohol rubs typically include a thickening agent such as polyacrylic acid for alcohol gels, humectants such as glycerin for liquid rubs, propylene glycol, and essential oils of plants.  It burns slow and steady gel acts like a wick.
 
                    
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More off topic stuff - I found a neat retractable clothes line and it's awesome for our small space in the winter.  Saves a lot of time otherwise spent at the laundrymat to haul the wet stuff home and hang it up, even if it gets in the way for a day (or night, ideally). 

picture:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/fishermansdaughter/4298431899/in/photostream/

In the summer we practice "do-nothing" laundry and it works well enough (every so often a machine wash gets stuff actually clean).  Put your clothes in a huge tub of water near a tree, add some biodegradable soap, and when someone passes by, give it a few plunges with one of those metal plunger clothes washer things. 
 
pollinator
Posts: 2103
Location: Oakland, CA
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paul wheaton wrote:
Saywhat? [Hand sanitizer] is flammable?



Yes. It's basically jellied everclear. Alcohol has to be seriously concentrated before it harms bacteria. IMHO, burning the stuff is the best use for it: if I kill off the lactobacilli that belong on my hands, who knows what will grow back in their place? The polyethylene glycol used to thicken it also burns.

Speaking of polymers: this will freak some of you out, but I occasionally use six-pack rings as fire starters. For years now, they've used cheap LDPE with none of the weird stuff that used to keep them from breaking down in the sunlight (so that they crack and break open after a couple months, if wildlife get tangled in them), which means they burn about as clean as paraffin. Technically, they are a variety of paraffin...

The tall, feathery seed heads of African bunch grasses are excellent tinder.

Personal documents that need to be destroyed don't work that great (too much ash), but it's nice to stack functions.
 
                          
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Location: Northern California
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I recently learned about fire pistons--you can make one yourself with a metal tube with one closed end, a metal shaft of a size to just slide easily into the tube, and an o-ring of the right size--plus a dowel if you want a nicer handle. You put a piece of tinder in a depression on the end of the metal shaft and push it into the tube once, briskly, and then pull it out, and you have an ember. The compression of the gases heats the tinder to the ignition point, just like in a car. It works really really well, apparently--you never have to buy another match or refill your lighter with melted dinos again. Maybe replace an o-ring after a few years.
 
            
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paul wheaton wrote:
Saywhat?

That stuff is flammable?

I heard about a lawsuit: after using the stuff, a guy set his hands on fire lighting a cig.
I tried it, and even with a thick coat still fresh, nothing. (Urban myth?)
I've set my hands on fire with isopropyl, and the occasional booze. Not to mention naptha, and even playing with gasoline while cleaning bicycle parts. Alcohol doesn't burn hot, so as long as you don't sit and stare while your hands heat up...
For that matter, next time you see non-dairy creamer powder, see if the ingredients mention anything that sounds like aluminum. It's a pretty energetic fire powder. Not in a little pile like black powder, but sprinkled down over a tiny wadded paper fire, it has enough air mixed through it to surprise you.

I was startled to learn recently about the fire piston too. No real evidence that it was prehistoric, but no reason it couldn't have been neolithic.
I've decided it's about the best thing out there. I'll play with fire bows and such if its a highly evolved variant, but nothing more messy than that for real use, when the piston is so ... neat.

Tinder of choice is always an issue. Cotton soaked in vaseline, lint, tiny shredded moss/bark/pine needles.

BTW, burning junk mail is actually discouraged by some stove/fireplace makers, because the weird colored papers throw off some nasty products, and can build up strange creosote deposits.
Don't know if that still goes for re-burner (secondary combustion) stoves.
 
Joel Hollingsworth
pollinator
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JohnF wrote:BTW, burning junk mail is actually discouraged by some stove/fireplace makers, because the weird colored papers throw off some nasty products, and can build up strange creosote deposits.
Don't know if that still goes for re-burner (secondary combustion) stoves.



Creosote is less of a problem for re-burner stoves, but atoms are forever. I believe the nasty products of colored papers in question are often heavy metals; the re-burner won't help that at all.
 
                    
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Here is a neat trick I learned, for emergency fire starteres add those gag candles that don't blow out to you survival kit, they work well to start an emergency fire.

"fire pistons--you can make one yourself with a metal tube with one closed end, a metal shaft of a size to just slide easily into the tube'

Has anybody made one of theses? I would love to see a picture or video.

 
pollinator
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Location: North Central Michigan
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smash a bunch of bags into another bag and throw them in your vehicle when you go out into the woods..fatwood..the wood of pine stumps is wonderful for fire starters..it is full of resin and is generally easy to break up with a branch or your boot and pile into bags..you can fill up as many bags as you can carry if you go into a woods area that has been previously burned (sometimes a hundred years ago)..the stumps will  still be standing, partially rotted and full of fat wood
 
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I was told  this the other day. We have tried this and it does work.
Put citrus fruit peel on top of a wood burner to release  a nice fragrance into the room. When the peel is dry it can be used as a fire lighter.
 
                                  
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Location: Eastern Oklahoma
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Mineral oil is the base ingredient for petroleum jelly. A little of it on half a cotton ball, dryer lint etc. and it will burn for 6 to 8 minutes. Might even toast a marshmallow while waiting for the wood to catch fire.

Mike
 
                      
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paul wheaton wrote:
Dryer lint?  I would need a dryer for that.  I dry all my clothes by hanging them up near the fire I started with the paper towel! 



This site needs a FB type "like" button. I wouldn't have needed to write this silly comment!
 
gardener
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Location: South Puget Sound, Salish Sea, Cascadia, North America
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Tangential to the fire thing.

My brother in law just taught me how to make tinder.. as in the stuff that is in the tinder box with the flint and steel.. take some old demim.  Put it in an altoids box with a small hole in the top.  Throw the whole think the the fire coals for 15 minutes.  Pull it out and plug the hole with a sliver of wood.  It makes a fabric based 'charcoal'.  You put it on a bed of fine stuff (old unravelled bits of old sisal or jute rope work great!).  The sparks from the flint hit the tinder and stick... forming circular patches of glowing fabric... wrap it in the fine stuff, and blow gently and it bursts into flame... Having never done the bow drill thing, I was quite pleased.
 
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I've used restaurant frier oil that was too hydrogenated for biodiesel and mixed it with wood planer shavings or sawdust. Just a dab will do ya.  Also, I save all the candle butts and bits and melt them into a coffee can of sawdust. Works great!
 
master pollinator
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     Dry leaves and a match.
 
Dale Hodgins
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    Plus 6 cups of gas
 
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Location: Euless, United States
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Cranking it up a notch, have you ever heard of sleeping on a horsehair filled mattress? Still have one to sleep on in Hungary Europe.. Following...
 
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