Wet fire

Discussion in 'Functional Gear & Equipment' started by Hanzo, Oct 21, 2013.

  1. Hanzo

    Hanzo Monkey+++

    Today, I tried wet fire for the first (and possibly last) time. Don't get me wrong, as an emergency fire starter, it would be fine. I prefer cotton balls with Vaseline and fatwood.

    After teaching my tai chi class, I took a little break to go outside and play. ;) my intent was to test the wet fire cubes and try and boil water for something to drink. I tried to invite Bear, but think he was busy. Good thing too. I thought I had some miso soup that I was going to share. Turns out I only had one satchel of got chocolate and one of coffee.

    Anyway, got to my spot. Here's the view on this overcast day.


    My grab and go car kit. I don't usually have a casualty blanket and shemagh attached to the straps. Wanted to see how it felt attached that way. Was gonna bring them regardless since I figured the ground would be wet. Not a comfortable carry.


    My EDC (not including my phone, wallet and kets)


    Items in one side pocket.


    Items in the other side pocket


    E&E match case contents


    Stuff in main compartment (I forgot to stick the canteen in the picture)


    Wet fire burns for 3-4 minutes it seems and two, one after the other just got tiny bubbles and no boil. But it was just hot enough for a hot drink. Big flame but average performance.




    About 8 oz of water. Made hot chocolate, but didn't take a picture because I didn't want it to get cold before I drank it.


    The residue


    Beat up and trusty old hat


    Cleaned up, packed up, ready to go. Left no trace.

    Brokor, Yard Dart and kellory like this.
  2. Hanzo

    Hanzo Monkey+++

    I actually prefer a gamcha to the shemagh. A gamcha is the Indian cotton bath towel. I think it is a little wider and 3-4 times longer than a shemagh, but folds down to about a quarter of the size. I brought the shemagh because I thought I lost it and it turned up. So she(magh) was meant to come with me. The canteen kit would usually have a garbage bag instead of the casualty blanket, but I swapped that out too since I was expecting mud. Happy to go on high ground and only have damp.
  3. kellory

    kellory An unemployed Jester, is nobody's fool.

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  4. Hanzo

    Hanzo Monkey+++

    @kellory, I tried something like that a few years ago and wasn't overly impressed. I think I still have a small batch left. When I have time, I will dig it up, dump some in an altoids tin, and try to boil water with it. I remember thinking that cotton balls with Vaseline and fatwood were better. I think that stuff was expensive too.
  5. kellory

    kellory An unemployed Jester, is nobody's fool.

    As a starter fuel, it seemed pretty good. easy to light, hard to blow out, would burn wet or dry, and seemed to last well. Never found a local place to buy it.
  6. Hanzo

    Hanzo Monkey+++

    If I recall, the manufacturer (it was pretty new at the time) sent me a small sample to test. After trying it, I just couldn't justify the price for me. I really love fatwood. Use it all the time when it is wet, which is quite a bit since we are primarily tropical rain forest type environment. And I really love paper bark. Those are my two favorites of all time. Add in the man-made Vaseline cotton balls for super fast and easy starting and I think you are good to go in most any situation except underwater. Cost is practically nothing. Even without the cotton, both paper bark and fatwood light with a spark. And paper bark makes an awesome tinder bundle for embers too. Oh, and free. I grab some whenever I see it.
  7. kellory

    kellory An unemployed Jester, is nobody's fool.

    Does paper bark have another name? Don't have anything by that name here (that I know of) and I will need to figure out where to get fat wood. I prepare my own fire starters, and seldom ever need to search for something to use. I tend to over prepare, and carry more than I will likely need.
  8. Mechwolf

    Mechwolf Monkey+

    the wet fire works best if you crumble it up. It is supposed to help light a fire not be the fire. I have used it to start a fire in damp conditions. But like others have said fat wood seems to work just fine as well.
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  9. Hanzo

    Hanzo Monkey+++

    Paperbark, Melaleuca quinquenervia

    I've seen fatwood from companies like LL Bean, I think. You can also find it in downed pine stumps. It will feel hard and sticky and you can smell the turpentine smell. And while you're at it, grab some pine resin too. Fatwood and pine resin is nature's kerosine and goes up like nobody's business. And it smells nice when it burns. And if you toss fatwood in a fire a night, you'll notice it will be brighter and more yellow. That's why you can use it as a candle too.
  10. Hanzo

    Hanzo Monkey+++

    That was my understanding too. But wanted to see if it would boil up a cup of water. It was just a test. Fatwood is the same. Use to start a fire.

    I see no difference between wet fire, Esbit tabs, the ones from Coleman, etc. Other than the individual wrapping for wet fire. I think an equal volume of Vaseline soaked cotton balls will start more fires than wet fire and at a fraction of the price. But they are supposed to be really good, so I wanted to test it.

    Now I have tourniquets and combat gauze, but have no intention of ever testing those items.
  11. Mechwolf

    Mechwolf Monkey+

    lol if you can ever find a test subject for the last two let me know. I am curious to see how well the combat gauze works :)
  12. Hanzo

    Hanzo Monkey+++

    Hope I never.

    Already did minor "surgery" twice while camping. Patched up one guy that almost lost his thumb (think pez dispenser) who was going into shock, and had to open another guy's leg. He slipped and got shived by a piece of manky wood that broke off in his leg. Both are fine now. The surgeons did an awesome job reattaching his thumb once he got to the emergency room. They credited both the patch job and the sharp axe.
  13. ghrit

    ghrit Wicked cranky 1 Administrator Founding Member

    Kell, that paper bark the Islanders are talking about isn't found this side of the pond. We have paper birch in the northern states (Betula papyrifera). Oily bark that peels off naturally and lights readily, wet or dry, smokes like crazy and will burn completely. I don't know how far south it is found, but I've seen it in Virginia. Also seen it in Wyoming and at high altitudes in Utah. Not as common as regular birch, but often found together.
    kellory likes this.
  14. Hanzo

    Hanzo Monkey+++

    Kellory, got home and dug out the sample I had. Pretty sure it is the same stuff. My little container was not the retail size and was just a test sample. Doing this test brought back all kinds of memories of it. So thank you for that.

    Decanted some into the canteen kit altoids tin.


    Lit a piece of wood to light the stuff. It just wouldn't light. I remembered it being difficult to light and not burning completely.


    So I took a Vaseline cotton ball to it.


    Got about 8-10 oz of water in the canteen cup.


    And covered it.


    The cotton ball burned for between 1-2 wet fires. And heated the water about the same as two consecutive wet fires.


    After all that, the special fire stuff didn't take.


    I don't think it is an expired batch since it behaved similarly when I first got it.

    But my view was nice.


    By the way, sorry it is not very bushcrafty. I just used the grate in my grill.
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  15. Bear

    Bear Monkey+++ Founding Member Site Supporter+++ Iron Monkey

    @Hanzo Cool stuff!... sorry I missed the outing today...
    Hanzo likes this.
  16. Hanzo

    Hanzo Monkey+++

    No worries. I didn't stay long. Thought about taking a hike after, but I didn't have what I thought I had...miso soup. So I went and got lunch instead.
  17. kellory

    kellory An unemployed Jester, is nobody's fool.

    Thank you for the follow-up test! Seems it does not act as.....robust as it appears in the videos. I went back through the promotional video (the linked one) to make sure you used it as it is designed to be used. (I thought there might be an air flow problem) but pics also show it contained, not loose. I can find no fault in your test.
    It does appear to be the same product. As I am on that forum as well, may I contact them with your findings? Perhaps link to this thread?
    Hanzo likes this.
  18. Hanzo

    Hanzo Monkey+++

    Kellory, feel free. I remember the manufacturer being great to deal with when I contacted him long ago. And it could be user error, but I could never duplicate the results shown. When I first used it, I used it loose. Since I did the wet fire in the tin, I tried this the same way. Couldn't get it to work.
    kellory likes this.
  19. gunbunny

    gunbunny Never Trust A Bunny

    That loose granular stuff contained wood pellets. They are hard to get to stay lit; you need airflow. Wood pellets are DRIED wood particles (sawdust at 5% humidity) that are compressed together at 30,000 psi and expelled through a die. They are held together by a natural glue found in the cellulose, so nothing is added to the mixture to pelletize them. The sawdust is a mixture of local (to the pellet factory) varieties of wood, but the better pellets are hardwood, drier, and have less bark in them than the cheaper pellets.

    Why the long definition? So you know exactly what you are dealing with. Pellets are not worth carrying around with you to use. I can see why they added them to the fire-starter mix; to try to add a longer burn time. Unfortunately, the pellets will need to be aerated to keep them burning well- have them in a small basket made of perforated metal or tightly packed grill slats, and supported a little above the ground.

    It just is too much trouble to use them (for me) to bother with carrying wood pellets in any form. Pellets were created for pellet stoves where the combustion conditions are strictly controlled, and the available BTUs are fully extracted. It's hard to get that in the wild. I would like to try one of the new, powered camp stoves like the Biolite. They are forced air induction to their combustion chambers. If you get a good fire going, and the fan is running at full speed, you should be able to use wood pellets in it effectively- but until I get my hands on one, I can't say that for certain. For the quantity of dead wood lying around in the form of sticks in my AO, pellets would still not be worth it, even with the Biolite.
  20. kellory

    kellory An unemployed Jester, is nobody's fool.

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