Fire is beautiful, possibly becuase it is so important to life.

There are three common ways to make fire: matches, cigarette lighter and magnesium match (or magnesium firestarter).

Matches get wet and stop working, unless they are more expensive waterproof variety. By volume per use, they are vastly inferior to lighters and magnesium matches. It would take wheelbarrows of matches to equal the amount of fires available from one lighter or magnesium match. Combined with the requirement that they be kept bone dry, matches look like a bad deal.

what matches look like before typical use


Lighters are overwhelmingly the most popular ignition source amoung smokers, for very good reason: they work reliably, are very compact. Unlike matches, they can be carried in a pocket. A wet lighter works fine, after drying. A disadvantage to lighters is that they can be difficult to light things like lamps or stoves, but any dry splint of wood can be improvised into a match to transfer flame.

Magnesium Matches or magnesium firestarters are very nearly indestructable. When used competently, they are very effective at creating fires. One of these costs between 5 and ten dollars, but will last years.

A magnesium match consists of a block of flammable magnesium, and a striker commonly misrefered to as a flint. Though the term is incorrect, it has been commonly excepted and will be used here as well as in every other publication and discussion.

The first step in using a magnesium is to build a fire. Most of the logs and all of the kindling and tinder should be in place or within easy reach before any attempt to light anything. The magnesium shavings will only burn for a few seconds, so it is very important that they light something else (the tinder, which lights the kindling, which lights the fuel logs) in that time.

After (only after, or you are wasting time and daylight) the fire is built, shave magnesium off the back of the match into the tinder with a machete (preferable), knife (not a good one, please), or included scraper. After a small pile is built up, use the flint side to scrape sparks onto the pile. When it lights the magnesium, use it to light the tinder, the tinder to light the kindling and the kindling to light logs.

All of this is complicated, so practice is critical.

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