Fire By Trial: 50,000 years of tech in the making

Posted by Nate on

If a caveman could start a fire rubbing two sticks together how hard can it be, right?  Well if you’re a glutton for punishment like me, you've probably found out it can be quite an ordeal.  When you really need to getting a fire going the last thing you want is to be left out in the dark and cold.  Luckily, these days there are a number of options designed for emergency fire starting, but before we get ahead of ourselves let's take a look back at a brief history of man and fire.

Tens of thousands of years ago, before the great pyramids, space travel or even the Snuggie, humans were doing pretty cool things, like harnessing the power of fire which allowed them to cook food, light up the night, and migrate into climates that would have been too cold and inhospitable otherwise. All this while fighting off man-eating Sabertooth Tigers… heavy stuff.

Early methods of fire starting relied on rubbing objects together to create enough friction to make an ember, or striking objects together to create a spark. The Chinese are credited with creating the first match-like ‘fire sticks’ but it wasn’t until the mid-1800’s that matches became commercially viable and even then the safety of matches came under fire (pun intended) as a single pack of white phosphorous matches contained enough phosphorous to kill a person. Workers at manufacturing plants suffered from phossy jaw, and deaths and suicides from eating the matches became all too common. In 1911, US President William Howard Taft made an impassioned plea to The Diamond Match Company to release their patent on a much safer match for the good of mankind, which they subsequently did.

Advancements in matchmaking have continued to this day along with other firestarting technologies that offer improvements in materials, form factor and reliability. Here are three firemaking options you might consider when creating a 72 hour kit, packing for a camping trip or adding to your food storage and supply reserves:

1) Storm Lighter: The Storm Lighter by Solo Sport has a waterproof casing that has been tested in rigorous marine environments. This lightweight, windproof lighter is perfect for camping, boating and the extreme demands of outdoor adventuring. It features a 2500° F flame and runs on refillable butane.

2) Firesteel: The Light My Fire Firesteel lasts over 3,000 strikes and produces a 3000° F spark. It works well in dry or wet conditions and has been approved by the International Survivor Instructors Association. It’s bright spark can also be used as an emergency signal.

3) Waterproof matches have a strikeable tip similar to a normal match, but much of the stick is coated or impregnated with a compustible compound and waterproofed with wax, and will burn even in a strong wind.

To shop these and other firestarting products, make sure and visit The Ready Project's wide selection of firestarters, it's so easy a caveman could... well, you get the idea.


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