Here is another clever camping idea I picked up while surviving in the wilderness naked and afraid. Except I wasn’t naked or afraid or in the wilderness but I did survive endless hours of scanning articles on the internet while barefoot.
When I first started camping my preferred fire starter was a can of gas and a handful of thrown matches from twenty feet away. Eventually I learned about using kindling and how to make sparks with a flint and knife and use magnesium shavings, etc. All real neat ways to impress the kids and make them think I know more about camping and fire making than I do. Which brings us to our recent camping trip which I incidentally didn’t actually camp out on because I’m old and lazy and my camping gear is worn out, broken, lost and what is left is outdated nonfunctional crap. So I did the smart thing which was to meet the usual group for a day and then go home.
So for my first awe inspiring fire making feat I broke out my well traveled (and never used) wad of steel wool and a nine volt battery. For those of you even more inept at starting camp fires than me; steel wool burns. Hot! And it conducts electricity. Hold a wad of it across both terminals on a nine volt battery and you get some sparks and then the steel wool catches fire and presto—instant fire starter you use to start the camp fire with. Pretty neat (I actually tried this at home and it worked wonderfully) except this time my battery was deader than a doornail. Dang. Then I remembered Swedish fire logs. Luckily someone in my camping group had covertly liberated a hunk of tree trunk from someone’s hidden firewood stash. Perfect already cut firewood length and about eight to ten inches in diameter and unsplit. The trick is to almost split this log into quarters. If you split it completely then you have to scrounge around for something to tie the bottom back together. Next stuff some dry kindling into the cracks. I used pine needles and some sap scraped off a nearby pine tree. Hold a lit match in the bottom of the cracks until the kindling catches. What you have here is a rocket stove. The dry inside of the log burns and air is sucked in through the cracks where the log is split and in no time you have a nice campfire blazing away.
What is neat about this Swedish fire log is that the ends have been sawn flat when it was cut from the rest of the truck. Perfect to set your cooking pot on and the fire roars underneath it and cooks your dinner.
For my next trick I will attempt walking over hot coals barefoot. Yah right.