Light your fire without using matches
My kids love a bit of adventure so I decided to introduce them to Fire steels. They avidly watched several episodes of Bear Grylls as he fought his way through the wilderness with a celebrity in tow and loved it. I want my children to grow up with a respect for real life and a realisation that they can flourish living outside their comfort zone. Part of this is ensuring they can stand on their own two feet in all situations.
So why do my kids need to know how to light a fire? Why not? You can spend so much time sitting in front of the television so sometimes, it’s good to break free and escape. Buying a fire pit allows us to sit out in the dark evenings toasting marshmallows and talking as a family. The next step for me was to teach Josh and Emma a respect for fire and show them how to create it safely. I’d rather have this than what happened when I first discovered fire!
What happens when you don’t educate your kids properly
I can’t quite remember exactly where we got the matches from, all I remember is me, my friend Gary and a large grass bank. Our first foray into fire was going well, or so we thought. I had a small amount of dry grass burning nicely under control and Gary, well Gary had a different approach. I looked up and saw him trying to stamp out an area of burning grass that was around three feet in diameter crying out ‘Mike!’ … ‘Mike!’ …’Mike!’…. I dashed over and also started jumping on the flames, only to find that Gary quickly succumbed to the rising panic. He fled the scene leaving me with what can only be described as a tricky situation. Realising the impending doom, I also took flight and we hid in my back garden listening to the fire engines arriving twenty or so minutes later. As fires go, it was large. Fortunately is was only the grass bank that went up in flames and nobody was hurt.
A safer alternative to creating a wild grass fire
So after some careful instructions and warnings I was ready to let Josh and Emma have a go at using my new gadget to light the fire pit. I purchased the ‘Light My Fire – Swedish Firesteel’ from the Cotswold Outdoor shop, perfect for any outdoor adventure in any weather apparently. Fortunately it wasn’t raining as we assembled in the garden.
Firstly, I grabbed some cotton wool and created wood shavings from some softwood kindling with my trusty Swiss Army knife. Then we were ready to go. Initially, we needed to rub the grey coating off the fire steel with the striking blade. Once we had done this, the steel roughened quickly causing an amazing array of sparks.
We set the cotton wool alongside the shavings and Josh tried it first. After about four or five attempts, he got the hang of it and a flood of sparks fell lighting the cotton wool. It burns quite quickly, much better than I imagined. The trick then was to add the shavings slowly until the flames were established. Putting Vaseline on the cotton wool helps it burn slower, giving the wood more chance to burn. It’s also flammable which is not a bad thing when trying to make fire. Emma had a go and within three scrapes of the fire steel, had a nice flame. We slowly built the fire up and then sat around warming ourselves for a while. It was really pleasant even though the temperature was a touch over freezing at 3°c.
So now, even on camp with soggy matches we can light the gas stove or create a fire to warm our feet. One day my kids will thank me for imparting this knowledge. Until then, it just adds a little adventure to their childhood.