am in the midst of writing a book, as some of you are aware. It’s basically a collection of tips, tricks, and hacks for the woodsman, bushcrafter, etc.
I’d like to share one of the sections in the book that some of you may find useful.
Wet Proof Your Lighter
I don’t carry a ferro (ferrocerium) rod. I’m not a fan of them, for reasons you will find out later and it has nothing to do with my ability to start a fire with them. As a result, I carry a lighter, a few to be exact. But as others will be more than happy to point out, a lighter will run out of fuel, not work when it’s wet, have problems when it’s cold and suck at high altitudes. Lets address some of these points with logic:
Runs out of fuel- It sure does, just like you wear out your socks and underwear, which is why you have several pair. But did you know an average size BIC lighter has up to three thousand lights worth of fuel. That equals up to about eight fires a day for an entire year. Check the BIC website under faq
Doesn’t work when cold- You know this is one of those “you gotta wonder where are people getting their info”. I went to many high altitude mountaineering sites early on to see what climbers were using, including folks who are climbing Mt. Everest. And you know what their recommended gear included? a lighter and matches. Now, I’ll admit a lighter doesn’t work too well when cold, but keep it under your armpit for a few minutes and it works fine. Frankly, however, I’ve lit up cigars in some very cold places, without so much as a problem. And I always see folks lighting up cigarettes in cold places with a lighter, without a problem. Perhaps It’s because my lighters are always inside of a warm pocket kept warm by my constant movement and radiant body heat, I dunno.
I know some ya’ll are going to think I’m crazy, but that’s been my experiences, even down to single digits. Of course, I haven’t tried it in Antartica, so can’t vouch for the entire world. Then again, there’s no reason I would ever go there.
Doesn’t work at high altitude – lighters are a recommend part of kit for Everest climbers and Sherpa use them all the time. However, that bit of mindset—lighter don’t work at high altitudes—must’ve come from those jet style lighters which do have an elevation problem.
In his book, “The Other side of Everest,” Matt Dickonson writes, “The cigarette lighters were now even more reluctant to ignite than at camp 5. It took forty or fifty strokes with my thumb to coax a flame out of the frozen gas.”
The facts: Camp 5 is at 25,500 feet and Matt was beyond that point. And although he struggled even more than at Camp 5, he still managed to use a lighter successfully. Well, since I have no interest in climbing Everest, I’m not going to worry about it.
I can light a fire with my ferro rod faster – Oh boy that’s a doozy. I’m not sure how sparks light a fire faster than a flame that is already a fire, so I won’t even touch this one. Although, I will say, I did challenge someone, actually several, to light my cigar faster with a ferro rod than I could with my lighter. Alas, they had excuses, like they always do.
I’m beginning to feel like the James Randi of bushcraft.
Doesn’t work when wet – Well, by default, butane lighters are waterproof. They have to be, or the fluid would leak out. However, getting the striker wheel wet doesn’t bode well for the lighters ability to start a fire, but once you dry out the wheel and flint, the lighter works fine. It’s the drying out that can be a bit of a pain. Which is the point of this section of the book.
What is that old say’n, “An ounce of prevention is worth a ton of cure?” When it is raining, do you not put a jacket on to keep from getting wet? Of course you do, if you’re like most. At the least you’ll put on a hat or use an umbrella, so why not then put a hat on your lighter to help keep it from getting wet? I now see the eyes are rolling and you’re thinking “yeah, yeah, yeah been done before. Stick it in a plastic baggie or other waterproof container. Nothing new here.” Okay, while those are options, that wasn’t even remotely close to what I had in mind. Remember I said I’m lazy? Well, if I didn’t I just did. Zipping and unzipping bags or opening and closing containers is frankly annoying. The solution is much simpler, more efficient, and best of all probably somewhere in your house right now. If not, they are super inexpensive and can be bought at Home Depot or other hardware stores. Best of all, it comes in different colors, so you can color match your lighters.
Grab yourself a #2 spring clamp, slip off one of the colored vinyl grips and slide it over the top of your lighter. It fits perfect and will keep your lighter bone dry even if submerged in water.
When you slip on the lighter hat, pull back up on it a smidge just so you make sure the fluid lever is not being depressed from having put it on.
The cap can even store some tinderquik in the extra space at the top. It can also be removed with one hand by biting down on the cap and pulling the lighter away.
Make sure the cap is void of cracks and holes, as can be common in old spring clamps that have been tossed around like a rag doll.
Man! This is one I recommend for all kayakers, canoeist, fishermen, and anyone else around water. It can really be a lifesaver. And some of you enterprising and creative thinkers may even figure out a cool way of creating a zipper pull, key chain, PFD (Personal Flotation Device) attachment without making a hole in it. I tried Duct tape, but didn’t like the look. And actually, I rather keep it in a warm pocket.
There you have it, a sneek peak into my book.
I hope you find that tip useful