Wednesday, May 4, 2011

72-Hour Kit Wednesday - Matches

Whenever I think of camping I think of matches. The ability to build a fire is one of the most important survival skills. Campfires are great for cooking food but they are also important for keeping warm. Depending on the nature of an emergency, the season of the year, the area or situation you are in, Matches may be essential not only to boil water or cook food, but also to keep warm, especially during a long cold, dark night.

Many people recommend waterproof matches and that is not a bad idea. You can, however, use regular matches if they are stored in a waterproof container, but you always run the risk of the matches getting wet. There would be nothing worse than having matches but being unable to use them because they wouldn’t work. You never know when they’ll get something spilled on them, or something in your pack might leak or they might just get dropped.

Because making fire is so important to survival it is recommend your survival kit contain at least three ways of starting a fire. For example matches, lighter, and a magnesium firestarter or steel match. Should one or two of these fail, the third could very well save your life or at least make the time you spend outdoors more livable.

Maybe the best thing you can do, however, is to make your own waterproof matches. This is cheaper and insures you won’t be in trouble when you need a dry match. Here is how you do it:

First of all, buy GOOD matches. No matchbooks! I prefer wooden strike anywhere matches, so you do not need to rely upon a special striker surface to light the matches with. In survival situations the fewer working parts that can fail the better. You can find wooden strike anywhere matches at your local hardware store or wood burning stove dealer.

Use a double boiler for the melting of wax; you can also use an old pan or even a pie plate set over boiling water. Be very careful. Hot wax can cause serious burns.

Once the wax has melted dump in your matches and stir, making sure that the wax has completely coated the matches. Use a pair of needle-nose pliers to remove the waterproofed matches one by one and set them aside to cool so that they are not touching one another.

That’s it! The thin layer of wax all around the match ensures the match will catch fire even if it has been immersed in water. As an added bonus the wax will help the match burn longer and hotter. Store your homemade waterproof matches in a waterproof match case and you have gone far toward ensuring you can start a fire when you need to even if your matches get wet.

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