Archive for October, 2010

How to Make Homemade Wetfire Tinder

Sunday, October 17th, 2010

WetFire Tinder is a very popular water-proof fire-starting tinder made by Ultimate Survival Technologies. The great benefit of it is that it easily lights with a spark from flint/steel or a ferrocerium rod (or flame for that matter) and is virtually weather proof. If your life depends on making a fire in severe weather, than WetFire is a must have. The only problem is that it’s expensive (around $14 for 8 cubes). So why pay all that money when you can make your own?

My homemade version may not be the exact “Trade Secret” that UST claims to have but I find it’s just as waterproof, it easily takes a spark and flame, and it burns in the wind and rain.

What’s my secret?

Well, it’s really no secret at all, in fact it’s just cotton balls and Vaseline that dipped in melted paraffin wax (candles work too).

Most of you have probably heard of cotton balls and Vaseline as an effective tinder and I have to agree, cotton balls mixed with Vaseline do make great tinder. The only issue is, if it got dropped in water or soaked from the rain, it will not light. This method will.

How to Make Homemade WetFire Tinder

Step 1: Combine cotton balls and Vaseline. This step is the same process you would do if you were making standard cotton-ball/Vaseline tinder. Just take a glob of Vaseline and knead it into the cotton ball.
Step 2: Melt the wax on the stove. You can use old candles or paraffin wax. Be sure to keep the stove top temperature at low since the wax can ignite at high temperatures.
Step 3: Dip the cotton balls in the melted wax. Be sure that the cotton ball is completely submerged in the melted wax. This will ensure that it is completely waterproof. For this step I find it easiest to use chop sticks.
Step 3: Place on tin foil and put in freezer. Although this step isn’t necessary, I like to place it immediately in the freezer since it cools very quickly. The foil just keeps it from sticking when it hardens.

*Note: You may be thinking,”why should I bother with the Vaseline, can’t I just dip dry cotton balls in the wax?” The purpose of the Vaseline is to prevent the wax from being completely soaked up by the cotton. If you skip the first step, the cotton will get completely saturated by the wax such that when it dries you’ll never be able to fluff it up to the needed amount to allow it to catch a spark and burst into flame.

How to Use your Homemade Wetfire Tinder

Using your tinder is a simple process, for optimum results, the following steps should be taken:

Step 1: Cut/Break the tinder in half.  By breaking the tinder in half, you expose the Vaseline mixed cotton inside.
Step 2: Fluff up the tinder. Break up the tinder in your hands and repeatedly pull the tinder apart, trying to create a fluffy mass. The more”fluffy” it is, the easier it will take a spark or flame.
Step 3: Light the tinder. Using flint/steel or some other spark creating tool (of course a lighter or match would be fine as well), light the tinder bundle.

The Survivalist's Bucket List

Thursday, October 7th, 2010

There’s a lot more to being prepared than simply stockpiling a bunch of stuff. It’s knowledge and skill that often makes the difference between being a survivor or a statistic.

Just as in stockpiling goods, in a long-term crisis the more knowledge and skills that you have about how to deal with a wide variety of situations and challenges the better off you’ll be. However, unlike stockpiling. knowledge cannot be purchased. It’s gained through study, learning, and practice.

You may be saying,”Well, I have a bunch of books on how to deal with every type of situation, and if I can read it, I can learn it”. Although I do highly recommend having a Survival Library, having only books on hand — while helpful — is not ideal. You don’t want your family to be dependent upon you learning a skill for the first time in the midst of a crisis and some skills take years to develop.

With that in mind, here’s a Bucket List of skills you may want to consider. This is in no way exhaustive or in order of importance but should get you started:

  • Sewing, Clothes Making and Repair: Learn how to quilt, crochet, knit, sew, spin, weave, and how to make clothes from basic patterns. It might be a good idea to pick up an antique manual pedal driven sewing machine. Many of them sell for quite cheap through Craigslist.
  • Auto Mechanics and Engine Repair: Learn how to change oil, fix brakes, tune up engines, repair common issues (replacing water pump, alternator, etc) and so on. Included in this subject is small-engine repair/tuneups like chainsaws, generators etc.
  • Animal Husbandry: Learn how to raise rabbits, chickens, goats and other animals provided you have the space and your zoning laws allow.
  • Soap and Candle Making: This includes homemade oil lamps as well.
  • Butter, Cheese and Yogurt Making: Be sure any needed ingredients are part of your food storage.
  • Martial Arts: This could be boxing, ground fighting, knife fighting, stick fighting, and other forms of armed and unarmed hand-to-hand combat skills.
  • Marksmanship and Defensive Shooting: There are many excellent top-rate schools that teach marksmanship as well as personal and home defense with firearms. For excellent marksmanship training, I highly recommend The Appleseed Project events that are held nationwide.
  • Wilderness Survival and Primitive Skills: This includes local plant identification and use (edible, medicinal, and utilitarian); shelter building; water collection, storage and purification; fire making (using primitive and modern methods); animal snares; fishing; and much more
  • Outdoor Skills: Separate from wilderness survival (but related) is basic outdoor skills such as knot-tying, navigation, hunting, trapping, mountaineering, tracking and so on.
  • Medical Training: This should really go beyond first aid. Ideally you’ll want to take EMT or paramedic courses.
  • Radio Communication: This includes small-band, CB and other forms of radio communication. Ideally you’ll want to get your Ham operating license.
  • Metal-Working Skills: Learn welding, casting, blacksmithing. Also included in this subject is machining and other fabrication methods.
  • Food Preservation: Here’s where you’ll want to learn canning, smoking, pickling, dehydrating, and curing.
  • Food Preparation: Learn how to use all that bulk-stored food you’ve got squirreled away. Also included in this subject is food preparation off the grid — using wood/charcoal stoves, fire pit cooking, solar ovens etc.
  • Gardening: This is one of those skill you can’t simply pull a book off your shelf, read it, and expect to be very successful at. You’ll want to learn this now to fully understand how to work with your particular climate and soil type. It also takes a bit of time to work up your soil to be its most productive.
  • Bartering: This will be a very useful skill in an extended crisis situation. There are many flea markets and other local venues where you can practice this skill.
  • Entertainment: Learn to play an instrument, sing, or learn other performing art skills . During tough times, moral is low. Entertainment can otherwise lighten a heavy heart.
  • Home Repair and Maintenance: Learn the basics of carpentry, electrical wiring, painting, plumbing, masonry and so on. If you live in a remote area then being able to drill wells, clear land, surveying, and home construction techniques are also ideal.

Looking at this list you’re probably thinking that even a few of these areas would take a lifetime to really learn well — and you’re right. Don’t be so concerned about learning them all yourself. That’s the importance of community. As my friend Kevin Reeve says, “Training trumps gear, but community trumps training”. The more knowledgeable people you can gather in your circle of close friends, the better off you’ll all be. 

As far as not having enough time, start now by turning off the television. Or quit waisting time golfing and get out there and practice some skills that can really be of benefit to you and others. Many of these skills can be practiced as a family. If it’s important to you, you’ll find the time.