What? Why? Where? Firestarter Kit Contents -Part 2

Note: clicking on photographs and linked text will take you to an original post or an affiliate link.  Affiliate links could be more than one store.  Always shop for the best deal for yourself don’t assume my links offer the best price.  Shop wisely!  Thank you for your support of the free exchange of information and ideas.

In the blog What? Why? Where? Firestarter Kit Contents -Part 1 a follow up to the blog and video Vacuum Sealer Projects: FIRESTARTER topics covered what to store and carry kit contents with, this time it will be the What? Why? Where? of the content within the kit.

Kit contents will be in the order they were placed into the pouch in the video for simplicity.

The tins used to hold the pine heartwood were recycled packaging from ThruNite Ti5T penlights we use in our medical kit or on person.  The unknown type metal tin measures about 3″ x 4″.  They were used because they were here and the wood will most likely puncture the vacuum packaging at some point during long term storage.

Having a few on-hand I was surprised I found uses for them.  I’ve looked for similar style small metal boxes online and found a few that may work for a kit like this or others.  Keep in mind they may not be necessary at all.  Check the one shown here it’s offered individually and in multi packs it might work for those who want to experiment.

The high pitch content pine heartwood that went into the tin boxes was wildcrafted.  Whenever on the trail I keep an eye out for natural resources and collect every chance I get.  Those that don’t have access to natural resources can find what they need.  One place to look is a local source that sells fireplace or outdoor fire pit supplies, maybe a lumber mill.  They may carry it as a fire starting aid.  If not available local it can be ordered online.


Alcohol prep pads offer the pad and package for combustibles.  I prefer them in case I get pine pitch stuck on my hand or tool.  Pitch or tarry natural resins can foul up tools and adhere dirt and abrasives to the skin.  Neither good for survival situations.  They can and would be used for starting a fire however there are many other options to choose from first that might perform better.  Also count on one or two being dry.  It happend to us all the time in the ambulance. The pads in the photo link below are the same brand we used at many of the EMS and contract services from my past experience.



Book matches can be used in several ways.  The obvious, start a fire.  Mix with tender for heat intensity.  Or pass them to a lighterless smoker in need.  Other matches could be substituted that might be more fire starting oriented but they might not have the same functionality as the book matches.  Book matches by the box can also be found in most local grocery stores.



Next is the magnifying glass.  I’ve only started fires with one for practice. With a little help from the sun it will get a fire started.  I burned small spot on my hand without trying.  It’s amazing how intense that focused light can get.  This is one fire starter I do not want to be without.  The one in the video I’ve had since I was a child.  The only two like it I have were taken from broken binoculars found in the woods on a hike.  I like the one below because of the compact 1 1/2″ size and the case to protect it.

In the video the fresnel lens is never seen. That is because its packaged with the heartwood tin to prevent damage yet is easily accessible. Thought I would put it here with the magnifying glass since they’re similar in nature. These things are so compact, flexible and lightweight there is no reason to not have one in an emergency kit. A fresnel lens is also a good backup for reading glasses.



WetFire’s claim “Lightweight, safe, and easy-to-carry, UST’s WetFire Tinder 12-pk is guaranteed to light in windy or wet conditions.” Tested, they work for this project. Some notes about handling WetFire. In use it left an oily residue on my fingers that smelt like zippo lighter fluid.

Only removed by soap and water. Water alone did not remove it. In the future I’ll only handle the cube with a barrier. In a survival situation the last thing I want on my hand is an oily flammable substance with no soap and water to wash off. They work so well and have a way to handle them they seem like a much better modern substitute for trioxane bars that are becoming more scarce and expensive as time passes.


There is one match on planet earth I do not want to be without in a survival situation requiring fire. Watching the company propaganda video and self testing would lead an individual to draw one conclusion. Must have UCO matches just in case. Check out this company video, then click the matches photo and get some.

A small bulk pack like this was used to make the individual sealed packets. Each packet of five matches contains two individually sealed strikers. From the looks of it these will work when necessary.  I have a lot of confindence they’ll work.



The natural fiber tender was another wildcrafted addition.  Over the years I’ve passed by cedar tree falls with bark falling off, worked in woodshops collecting planner shavings, made charcloth and sought out any fiber that will hold a spark.  Never seen any store offer natural tender.  I’ve always had to wildcraft the natural tender.  As of this writing I have no experience with the commercially available tenders.  If a suitable one is discovered I’ll write about or make a video of it.  Always looking.

conifer daylight environment evergreen

Photo by Nejc Košir on Pexels.com



The Doan Magnesium Firestarter has been on my person whenever I’ve spent time away from home in the woods, hiking or in camp or wherever since a Boy Scout leader showed us how to use them in 1970’s.  Lost all of them along the way.  Now days, always keep a few on-hand for replacements or new kits. Note about the Doan Magnesium Firestarter: there are fakes and pure junk out there make sure you are getting the Doan brand only.

First choice for fire starting any fire if I have it is a Bic lighter. Won’t use any other lighter from bad experiences.  Among all the other fire starting kit available I have some caveman fire starting skill but have no interest in ever starting a fire like that if I don’t have to.  Flick my Bic or work up a neolithic sweat?  Pass me the lighter!


Light my Fire Swedish FireSteel is a great way to throw some sparks at tender. A pile of Doan’s Magnesium scrapings, tender and shower of sparks from this should get it started if my lighter won’t do it.  I like this as a way to put sparks into tender over the flint striker on the Doan Magnesium Firestarter.


A Victorinox Swiss Army Pioneer or Camillus 1760 knife is in each kit mostly to provide a sharp edge to use with the Doan and FireSteel and other fire preparation task.   A sharp edge is required to use the Doan’s and FireSteel.  Doan’s is supply your own sharp edge.  The FireSteel supplies one that last all of a few second in my hand.  The part I prefer to use for creating sparks is the awl.  Holding the awl/knife body close to the striking surface gives good leverage to create a shower of sparks.

That is the kit contents.  The lighter and book matches are the only spark generating items in the kit that won’t do well when wet.  The pine heartwood, magnifying glass, WetFire, UCO matches, Doan Magnesium and FireSteel can be temporarily submerged, have the excess water shaken off then used immediately.  That is the What? Why? Where? of the FIRESTARTER kit.  Ever have questions click on the Contact tab or leave comments below. -13

What? Why? Where? Firestarter Kit Contents -Part 1

Note: clicking on photographs and linked text will take you to an original post or an affiliate link.  Affiliate links could be more than one store.  Always shop for the best deal for yourself don’t assume my links offer the best price.  Shop wisely!  Thank you for your support of the free exchange of information and ideas.

In the blog and video Vacuum Sealer Projects: FIRESTARTER kit parts were mentioned but not focused on.  The items are worthy of a separate blog/video with more detail but was too much at once.  Seems like separate topics.

The vacuum sealer technology that impressed me so much back in the 70’s still does today.  It’s not very complicated or all that special on the average day but when put into use is worth every penny spent.  It seems it gets used as much for packing supplies and equipment as it does food stuff.

Presently the Vacuum Sealer Project(VSP) uses a FoodSaver FM2100 purchased from Costco in 2016.

They’re available in black and white. The kit has a port and hose attachment that will allow the user to vacuum seal reusable zipper pouches and canning jars. Canning jars will require a Canning Sealer Kit, it includes options for vacuum sealing large and small mouth canning jars.  Ours has successfully sealed nuts, rice, beans, matches, snacks, tea, sugar, salt and other items one might store in a canning jar.

A note about liquids and countertop sealers like these.  It will not seal any liquids without risking the appliance.  To properly seal liquids or items that require a small amount to be present will need a vacuum chamber sealer.  That is another topic for the distant future at this point so I’ll stick to the present.

Canning Jar Kit

Experience has shown that it is easier to load pouches and seal wet items like lasagna, juicy meats, precooked dishes when they’re very cold or nearly frozen.  That reduces the chance of vacuuming up liquids into the sealer.  It also helps to fold the end to be sealed over so that nothing can contaminate the sealing surface.  If there is anything on that area of the pouch it will not seal properly.

The FoodSaver is not the only vacuum sealer on the market this is the one the VSP is familiar with.  Shop around there are many options.

Now comes the most important part of using vacuum sealer pouches for emergency supplies. Opening the package when it is needed. Anyone who has ever tried to open a vacuum pouch packed item that does not have a tear-notch will understand how difficult to impossible it can be. The pouch wants to give and stretch.

The worst case scenario would be not having use of all limbs, that said the next worst by VSP standards is where one is reduced to use of one hand, one foot. One hand and foot could open a package with tear-notches. There are various ways to manipulate the package, body, foot and/or hand and make it work.


The simple single cut and vee shape notch work well and are easy to make with scissors. An edged tool on a cutting surface would also get the job done.  There is an issue with the vee shape.  If the point part of the vee is over-cut it may drive the tear in a lateral direction making it difficult to open.  Another reason to put two or more notches on each pouch.

Experience in commercial sewing rooms led VSP to purchase a 1/16″ x 1/4″ 45 N pattern punch for the purpose of making tear notches.  Visible in the photo above are samples. The consistency, ease, quality and peace of mind when a situation calls for every advantage are worth the cost of the tool.  Tools like it are an investment.  The tool would be worth its weight in gold if the simple cut it created help open a package with life saving contents.

1/16″ x 1/4″ 45N Pattern Punch

The last item added to the kit was added only by chance.  If a friend of the VSP hadn’t given the drawstring tote-backpack to the project we most likely would not have seen them at all.  The quality of the materials is not up to any regular or heavy duty use.  However all the tote-backpacks have to do is work well once during an emergency.

It would be a great place to gather fire making materials and/or carry other useful items if it was the only bag one had. Plus, folded, it fits the kit so well. Got to have it!  VSP has accumulated several of these for use in our fire kits.  Having a few on hand might also be a good idea if one is considering making kits in the future. For this purpose there is confidence it would last long enough until help arrived.

That’s all for part one, a clean, dry place to put all the good stuff in and an easy way to get it out.  Next time the What?  Why?  Where? blog will be the components for making fire. -13