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.

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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.

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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

Vacuum Sealer Project: FIRESTARTER

The simple vacuum sealer. One of my favorite appliances made for home use. I’ve always wanted to have the ability to vacuum package my own stuff since I opened one in the 70’s.  It might be survival supplies, clothing I want to stay dry and compact, or something good to eat.  Around here seems like the sealer gets used for non-food items as much as repackaged food or snacks.

Sometime in 2016 I started to update our fire starting kits.  In the past my fire starting kit included military surplus matches/trioxane fuel bars/toilet paper packet, flint/steel/char-cloth/extra cloth/in a tin, Bic brand lighter, a Doan Magnesium Firestarter, pine heart wood, magnifying glass, and wildcrafted tender that was constantly in need of replacement.

I always use the lighter first.  All the rest of it backup or an aid when the flames needed a little help.  The updated kit for everyday fire starting is very small, natural fibre tender, lighter and WetFire if the fire needs help.

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The survival fire starting kit has more options based on the many fire starting failures and successes I’ve experienced over the years.  I know what does and does not work for me.  There is nothing like suffering as a motivator.  If at all possible I won’t do without a heat source.

The updated kit is set up to be self contained within an individual survival kit or pack.  All of the items within the kit are vacuum sealed individually.  Each vacuum package is over size to allow the package to be reused after opening.  The length is long enough to allow the end to be rolled up then held closed with a rubber band included in each package.

Not sure if this would work I tested to see if this would be enough to keep out rain or a dunk in water.  Part of a paper towel was placed into the package.  The torn edge was rolled then held in place with a rubber band.  The sprayer on the sink set to high, water blasted on the package from every angle for a minute or so with no leak.

A similar test was set up for dunking.  The same package used to test before was used for this test, nothing was changed on the package at all.  The package was held underwater in a drywall compound bucket for about thirty seconds to a minute.  I held it down by hand and moved it gently in the water to simulate a quick immersion in a body of water. Thinking as if this was in my pocket and I fell into water somehow and was able to get out quickly.  Again, the result, dry.

Wouldn’t it be great if I’d filmed it.  But no! It was an after thought.  Not so much as a photograph.  Getting used to that now.  Better off doing your own testing for sure.  The packing material rolled tightly along with the compression of the rubber band worked much better than I expected.

The contents are mostly modern.  I’ve eliminated the old time flint-steel and military surplus trioxane/matches/T.P.  The kits may still contain military surplus like a Doan’s firestarter  or folding knife since those seem to last forever.

Added UCO matches to the standard book matches and Bic lighter.  Anyone who has not seen the testing done on the UCO matches should see it then make up their own mind.  If it gets down to lighting a fire with matches I think those are my best chance of getting it lit.  They are the only match I know of that will still be lit if I manage to drop it in water.

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Various types of tender.  A tin of pine heart wood with a high pitch content, cedar and hardwood shavings, alcohol prep pads and WetFire cubes.  Magnifying glass and fresnel lens.  Swedish Fire steel purchased on sale with either a Camillus military stainless four blade folder or a Victorinox Pioneer knife.

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All of it packaged in a waterproof vacuum sealed pouch made at home.  It measures roughly 5 1/2″ x 8″, 1lb 3oz or 540g. The kit will never be a problem to keep on hand.  The last addition to the kit was a by accident item.

A friend came back from a professional convention and handed me several nylon carry bags.  I looked at them, they had cord configured into a backpack.  Didn’t think much of the flimsy things so I set them aside.  About an hour later a thought smacked me in the head like a hammer.

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I grabbed one, folded it a few times, it fit the fire starting kit profile.  Like it was planned that way.  The thought that hit me was how useful the bag would be in gathering all the small stuff needed to start a fire that is difficult to transport without loosing valuable resources.  The thinking was what if the fire starting kit was the only survival item I had on my person a way to carry things would be very helpful.

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Sure the bag is made of imported nylon and cordage.  The thing is, all it has to do is work well once for a short period of time.  If the bag is not overloaded I have confidence it will hold lightweight items for a few days until help arrived or conditions changed.  The already made kit and the bag were added to another vacuum pouch then sealed.  That way the bag can be retrieved without having to open the fire starting kit if its not needed.

Don’t forget the tear notch!  Must have the tear notch no matter what your preference!

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Tear notch samples

This video was filmed in early 2017 after getting all the items together.  I noticed after making the package in the video I had left the knife out.  That’s what I get for not making a checklist.  It was not filmed but the knife was added as soon as I moved some of the stuff visible to the right in the video.  The knife was covered by some it.

This is a kit I never want the need to use it.  Because if I do need to use it, it means something has gone wrong. -13

The video.

Vacuum Sealer Project: Pill Pack for Medication

This Preparedness – Prepper – Hiker Vacuum Sealer Tip may get you arrested.  Sensational title but true.  Those of us who take multiple pills whether they’re prescription medications or supplements often use those multi-dose/day pill containers.  Doing so could get you arrested, maybe prosecuted.  Prescription medications are supposed to remain in their original container according to the law as I understand it.

There are all sorts of possibilities which is why the only advise I ever give anyone is, seek the advise of legal counsel and medical professionals before you do whatever it is you’re up to.

I made these pill packs originally for backpacking/hiking trips and as a way to carry a small amount of vital medications on my person at all times.  Ever miss your ibuprofen, antihistamine or whatever because you didn’t have it with you?  Yeah me too but no longer.  Plus it helps save money buying in bulk and having to not throw out medications stored improperly.

I make up a new pack/s every time I have to open bulk meds.  Usually fill one or two of the individual pouches and then put the rest in a larger pouch for long-term storage.  I always include the name of the drug/supplement, type/concentration, lot number and expiration date.  I never separate this information from anything I place in these pouches until I’d consumed the contents.  It’s very important to keep them together.

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Things I find helpful to have on hand, a red sharpie makes it easier for me to see the marks so I can line them up with the heat sealer portion of the vacuum sealer.  A funnel helps with precise placement of the pills.  I have a short extension of soft plastic tubing but couldn’t find it for the video.  It’s good for reaching to the deepest part of the pouch when trying to get pills that want to grab the pouch material instead of slide.

To make the pill packs I use an 11″ vacuum sealer roll like the rolls in this link.  2 Pack – SimpleHouseware 11″ x 50′ Commercial Vacuum Sealer Rolls Food Storage Saver Compatible to Foodsaver Sous Vide (total 100 feet) To make the template I used microsoft publisher then converted it into a downloadable PDF file located here.  PILL PACK DIVIDER INDIVIDUAL DOSE TEMPLATE  When looking at the template the top  and bottom two boxes are larger than the center boxes.  They’re larger to account for the various size factory sealed edges.

I laminated my second printing for durability because the first one was getting beat up from use, and also added a grommet to hang up or bind with other similar items.

Expired meds shown in the video are kept past their expiration date if preserved correctly following the DoD Shelf Life Extension Program.  I would include a link but the government has removed them.  Not sure how you’ll get that info now I don’t have anything to share at the time of this posting.  Research it maybe you’ll find something.

Everything else I think, is in the video.   Check it out. -13

 

Vacuum Sealer Project: Another easy-open packaging video!

Another video about how to make your vacuum sealer packaging easier to open with a pattern notcher.

This goofy video was totally inspired by the Jingle track playing with the video.  When I was making a longer version of a video with the same topic I was searching through iMovie’s sound library for a little intro sound.  As I was listening to the tune this video idea popped into my head.  I thought it would be cool to try to communicate similar information in the 36 seconds it takes the tune to play without a voice speaking over the track.

I went back to my improvised shop set up in the living room and recorded this in about 15 minutes and spent about an hour editing.  It’s kind of silly and dumb and totally low-budget but I actually like it and it was fun from beginning to end to make.  Have fun hope you enjoy it. -13

 

Vacuum Sealer Project: How to make your packaging easy to open

Several years ago I packaged an emergency kit in vacuum sealer packaging.  Tested it, and was completely shocked to discover how tough the packaging is and how difficult it can be to open without using some other instrument or object.  Attempting to open one of them by hand-only proved impossible to do without assistance.  It also made me realize how important and useful the tear-notch on freeze dried meals made for backpacking could be.

An individual, with an injured hand and/or dentures/front dental work would be at risk for not being able to open the package without assistance from an object or the tear-notch.  With a tear-notch it may be possible place part of the package underfoot and tear with the uninjured hand.  I know this for sure, I cannot do it without the tear-notch.

The first experiments with nothing more than a simple straight cut with the scissors worked fairly well.  I noticed though when I decided to cut a “V” shape into the margin on the packaging that it was easier to open and the tear didn’t seen to veer off like the single cut did.  Sometimes when I was testing the single cut way the tear would not always follow into and open the package, it would follow the margin and made it just as difficult to open.

I like the V cut over the single cut because it is more visible and easier to use.  There are a few things I don’t like about the V cut.  First it takes two cuts to make, that is a lot of cutting when making multiple packages and more than one tear-notch for each package.  The cut must be more accurate to ensure that the two cuts meet at the V point, if they don’t it may create another more difficult package to open.  It works great but it’s much more time consuming and requires a certain degree of accuracy unlike the single cut.

Not happy with either of those things I searched for another more efficient way to make those notches.  I was trying to think of what to search for online when I remembered something I had seen in a sewing supply catalog I had but couldn’t remember what it was.  Lucky me I had kept the catalog and found it.  The item is a pattern notcher.

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A, Style-45N, 1/16″ x 1/4″ Pattern Notcher. Turns out it works perfectly for this purpose.  It cuts the perfect notch for getting the package open plus all one needs to do is put the margin edge of the packaging into the notcher until it stops then close the notcher with your hand and done!  Wow what a really fantastic solution!  I can quickly and accurately place the notch and make the cut in seconds then move onto the next pressing homesteading project.

I made a short video about my experience and demonstrate the way that “Works for me”.  Hope you find this information useful. -13