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Firestarter...Wouldn't magnesium powder be better?

Discussion in 'General Survival and Preparedness' started by Bandit99, Sep 15, 2016.

  1. Bandit99

    Bandit99 Monkey++

    I was playing around today as had a pretty good day all-in-all so I decided to test a few of my fire starters. I have some old magnesium bars lying around so shave some off and used my striker to get a nice fire going. Then I started thinking... If I was wet, cold, hurt or etc. I wouldn't want to be messing around trying to shave or cut some strips off these bars... Why not powder?

    Anybody know a good way to turn a couple of the bars (about the size of a man's thumb) into powder? I was thinking maybe Sandpaper?

    I have a couple of waterproof cylinders that would be perfect for the powder...
    Motomom34 and Ura-Ki like this.
  2. Gator 45/70

    Gator 45/70 Monkey+++

    Use the powder in a rifle cartridge.
  3. Ura-Ki

    Ura-Ki Grudge Monkey

    I do this in a neat way that you might want to give a try. Take a grinder with 60 grit sand paper and work it till you have what you need. then take dryer lint especially cotton, and work into large marble size balls adding a few pinches of Magnesium and then drop into a tin cup of plumbers wax and let set up. Once it has taken a set, roll in some mag powder and put in to your storage container. These will start just as fast as any thing else! I use this to get a Swiss Alpine Light lit, and from there, I have all the flame I need for starting fires and such. Works even in a howling snow storm or in a PNW rain! Bonus is this combo will start wet wood!
    Motomom34 and Bandit99 like this.
  4. Bishop

    Bishop Monkey+

    Use a wood rasp or big tooth file.
  5. Bandit99

    Bandit99 Monkey++

    @Ura-Ki I'll try it! But, I will have to use the sandpaper by hand as have no grinder...but that's okay. I have a little metal box to store these special tinder balls in also. Thanks!

    @Bishop A wood rasp! Yes, that would work perfectly!
    Ura-Ki likes this.
  6. Bandit99

    Bandit99 Monkey++

    Strange...I ground off a pile of magnesium powder off this bar, about the size of a little pinky thumbnail, stuck a fire to it and...well, it didn't do much, was even damn hard to light! Can this stuff go bad? Maybe I didn't have enough of it? Maybe this is junk magnesium? Thoughts, comments, suggestions...??? Strange...

    I have had these bars for quite a while and purchased them from FireSteel.com
    Motomom34 and Ura-Ki like this.
  7. ghrit

    ghrit Ambulatory anachronism Administrator Founding Member

    Magnesium does NOT go bad. I'm guessing your match wasn't hot enough. It does take a minimum temperature to go off, and you might want to be further away than a match length.
    Motomom34 and Ura-Ki like this.
  8. DarkLight

    DarkLight I self identify as a Blackhawk Attack Helicopter! Site Supporter

    While magnesium doesn't go bad, there are a metric butt-ton of junk knockoffs out there that don't work for beans.

    If you shave it, does it work?
    Bandit99, Motomom34 and Ura-Ki like this.
  9. Ura-Ki

    Ura-Ki Grudge Monkey

    Some one got the bright idea to mix up a bunch of Mag with Alum. to be able to sell them super cheep. it may burn but not the really hot flash your looking for! I suspect you may have one of the mixed bars.
    Bandit99 and Motomom34 like this.
  10. BTPost

    BTPost Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    When I need Magnesium Powder, I get out my MotoTool, and install the Carborundum Die Grinder Bit, and grind away at 10K Rpm... it doesn't take long to make a small pile of Mag Dust.... Just be VERY Careful, to NOT get the Mag Dust, anywhere near an Oxidizing Agent, or you will have an VERY Energetic Mixture.... Like Instant BOOM..... Also the quality of the the Magnesium you use is very important to the Kindling Temp required for it to Light in Air..... Much of the Magnesium Metal around is really Magnesium/Aluminum and the Percentage of each in the Metal makes a BIG difference...
    Ura-Ki, Bandit99 and Motomom34 like this.
  11. Bandit99

    Bandit99 Monkey++

    Nah, I wouldn't want to end up like Wile E. Coyote. I used one of those long nosed lighter that are made to start BBQs, propane stoves and etc.

    I got a feeling this stuff is junk. An open flame off a lighter should set it off if held right to it, right? I mean, normally even sparks will light it so...

    So, next question... Anyone know where to purchase good magnesium bars or powder?

    So, exactly what oxidizing agent are you referring to? Please elaborate and be specific.

    Yeah, I think this stuff must be a 'Magnesium/Aluminum' mix...
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 17, 2016
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  12. DarkLight

    DarkLight I self identify as a Blackhawk Attack Helicopter! Site Supporter

    This is a video on youtube that was done in 2010 but it still holds true. He mentions a couple of brands that are still available. I haven't watched it all the way through recently but remember it was a good review.

    Here's a Doan Manufacturing (original military) on Amazon:

    And here is one proving the Harbor Freight one actually works.
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2016
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  13. BTPost

    BTPost Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    Well, Like Carbon, Sulfur, Permanganate, any Chlorate, or PerChlorate.... Those are ALL strong Oxidizing Agents....
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  14. Bandit99

    Bandit99 Monkey++

    @DarkLight thanks much for taking the time. Apparently, the Doan bar now is not so good either, lots of discontent. I would imagine that the product made for the military is still up to standard but hearing a lot that the civilian one is crap. However, I do have a Harbor Freight right down the road from me so I will check theirs out. Apparently, most of the vendors are taking the cheaper way out and accepting the bad reviews in order to make a larger profit margin by replacing with a Chinese mag/aluminum version. I think it is hard to find a real one anymore. I will start looking and post any info that I think might be of interest. These two bars of mine are going in the trash as useless, even more than useless if I was hurt, sick, wet, or etc.
    DarkLight likes this.
  15. arleigh

    arleigh Goophy monkey

    Had buddy that used old VW engine blocks, and true mag wheels .
    Wish I had those now.
    Had my fill of playing with magnesium and pretty much stay with the most available stuff first when in the woods and save the unique stuff for emergencies including PJ and cotton. I see people using big wads of this ,but I've been quite successful using only a pinch and expanding it and getting a bit of the PJ on the tinder as well.
    I've bought the cheap block, and save the flint and thrown the block away .
    if the shavings don't lite with a match ,don't waste the flint on it.
    BTW I have found that in stead of scrapping the side of the flint, I use a file on the end and get good sparks, and it last longer.
    Just about the same thing as a zippo lighter thumbwheel.
    Ura-Ki, Bandit99 and DarkLight like this.
  16. Ura-Ki

    Ura-Ki Grudge Monkey

    I use old V.W. engine blocks for this! I take them and strip them down and break them up into small chunks , then boil them out for several hours to get the metal as clean as I can! Then I grind the chunks with a die grinder and 40 grit until I get it all done. Store in the wax treated cardboard cask's until ready to make into fire starters. I watched a garage fire way back when I was a kid, and the damn V.W. burned for a really long time because of that engine block, the fire dept couldn't do any thing about it, they didn't have foam!
  17. Homer Simpson

    Homer Simpson Monkey

    I read somewhere that mag dust will oxidize and not be as effective if just shaved and left in the open air. I don't know if this is true as I have not had time to experiment yet.

    Anyone know about the quality of the magnesium in older lawnboy push mower decks? I have one that is broken beyond repair, just have had no time to play with it yet.

    Some of the VW cases and lawnboy mowers are quite valuable and collectable, might want to check before grinding up something that could be sold for major profit to fund more preps.
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