Fire lighting failure and success

Chigger

Les Hiddins
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Spent a couple of pleasant days riverside camping and was looking forward to some flint and steel firelighting practice. Took the tinderbox charged with freshly charred punkwood, knapped flints, all was ready.

Came time for the evening fire all was total failure. The flint sparked reasonably well but nothing I could do would get the punk to take a spark. The punkwood I had gathered on a previous bushwalk and had high hopes using it for firelighting, it just was not to be. Total wipeout.

In the end lit the fire with matches.

Next morning wandering about the campsite found only about five metres away was a very old fallen She oak tree which had rotted almost right through. This turned out to be the best punkwood I have seen for a long time. Very soft and with a lot of powder type residue from insect attacks.

PunkwoodRESIZED.jpg

Gleefully cut some of this to fit the tinderbox and charred it over the campfire.

Later in the day was wandering about some of the old Chinese gold diggings and noticed some dark stones which looked to be flint like although am aware other minerals such as quartz are capable of throwing a good spark.

Anyhow grabbed a couple of these banged them together so as to get a sharp edge and upon testing with the steel gave off quite good sparks.

Evening fire lighting time the fire drum ready with plenty of dry tinder. One strike with one of these stones threw a spark onto my new punkwood which instantly began to glow.

A few puffs increased the glow, sprinkled some fragments of stringybark onto the glowing puck which burst into flame. The blow tubes again were completely successful.

This fresh She oak punkwood is equally as good as fungus for a tinderbox.

GlowingTinderboxRESIZED.jpg

The whole exercise took barely a minute to get a burning fire.

Next morning gathered as much of this excellent punkwood as I had bags to put it in. As well went about looking for a few more of these stones and picked up some more stones.

All materials for lighting the fire apart from the steel came from where I was camped.
 
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barra650

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Good to see a swiss army knife . I've only heard of punkwood from the usa gents , so I'm not to sure what it is .
 

Chigger

Les Hiddins
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An old term, have seen references on English sites as well.

I hope Keith will forgive me if I take the liberty to make reference to one of his video's. Basically punkwood is rotted, soft decayed wood which can be used as tinder. Best charred.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9htqzFRuGjM

The Swiss Army knife was recently purchased second hand at a swap meet and is the camping model with a saw. The saw has been very handy to cut up small pieces of wood such as the rotted tree trunk I found.

Always carried on my bush trips.
 
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MongooseDownUnder

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I have a small box full of punk wood that I have collected at various times, I have found uncharred you can also light it directly with a flame.


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Chigger

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So many things to do and try out, plenty of pine forests around my area so will have a look around for some old pine tree stumps. Fungus that grow on the sides of trees are excellent although have only found one so far despite looking for them wherever I go.

Think this long dry drought has stopped the fungus from growing. I keep the one fungus I have as a reserve for firelighting in bad weather although this fresh punkwood recently found should be ok.
 

barra650

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I have to agree with the fungus for fire starting . I have large pieces from a tree I have in the front yard . Takes a spark easily .
 

Chris8546

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Bracket fungus (horses hoof fungus) and how it might just save your life....

Some of you may be aware of "Otzi The Ice Man" the ancient hunter gatherer recovered from an ice field after his untimely demise.

When they checked his belongings, they found a flint knife, various other bits of flint and a striker and 2 different types of bracket fungus. One was known for it's medicinal properties and the other for its fire making properties.

The latter was certainly a horses hoof fungus or something very similar.

All bracket fungus (and some of them are edible) are members of the Polypore Family.

So why is it so special? Well as already mentioned, it burns and once it's alight, it doesn't want to go out!! A strip of horses hoof bracket fungus the thickness of a piece of paracord and a couple of inches long will provide a workable ember for a minimum of 30 minutes.

However, and this is the important bit, if you minimise the amount of oxygen it receives, you can keep it burning for much longer than 30 minutes.

For example, if you put it in a char tin, with just a couple of holes, you can keep it alight for several hours. The bigger the piece, the longer it burns - but you have to play around with the amount of oxygen your giving it.

What this does is make your fire portable. You can walk for several hours, open up your char tin, and using a decent tinder bundle, quickly blow it into a ball of flame.

Ideal for situations where you don't have a lighter or matches or Ferro rod and would otherwise have to rely on traditional friction type fires which can be bloody hard work and don't always work when doing it in a real 'pressure on', survival situation.

Having your ember travel with you takes the pressure off and as I mentioned at the start, it could actually save your life in a real survival situation...

Yes we all carry Ferro rods and lighters and matches and perhaps cotton balls coated in petroleum jelly, but they are all finite resources. They all run out eventually, (or can be lost or broken) so having another string to your fire making bow isn't going to hurt!

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Hope it helps!

eBayChris


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Chigger

Les Hiddins
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Read a lot about Otzi which was an amazing archaelogical find and gave a great insight into early mankind. That Otzi was carrying fire lighting fungii was interesting.

He was certainly well equipped with many articles for living out in very cold locations without any shelter. Something I would not like to try with what he had for sure.

Fungi is one of the best fire lighting tinder I have found.
 
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