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Outdoor Survival tips with regard to Fire and Light

Michael aka Mac

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Michael aka Mac

One never can predict when the SHTF on your hiking and camping adventures. Maybe you are on a day hike and an act of God development takes place. Whether you are caught in  pouring rain, night time came faster then you predicted, or for some reason you are forced to stay the night, it helps to have a little survival knowledge on hand. A majority of the time an unexpected night out in the wilderness can be gruesome for those not prepared, but the best survivor tool there is  happens to be knowledge.

I have seen tons of so called "Survival Experts", outdoor survival online streamers, and TV shows based on Survival in the Wilderness, but rarely do I see any of them use what is right under their nose.  A vast majority of these individuals, when it comes to making fire, spend a good amount of time searching for dry tinder.  This tinder is what takes the spark, match or lighter to be used to catch the kindling and larger branches on fire.

Tinder There are a several commonly used tinder such as cotton plants, Cattails, certain fungus, Birch tree bark that are used to begin a fire.  Sadly, there are times when the environment is so damp that all of these fuel sources  are just too wet to catch a spark.  I have seen countless videos of even the experts giving up trying to make a fire under these wet conditions.  

So then what can you use as tinder? While these so called experts are giving up trying to light a fire due to everything outside being damp, I am looking inward  not outward.  A shout out to all of those hairy men out there,  you are the tinder.  Whether you are cutting off a short locket of hair or shaving a section of your arms, chest or legs  ( no one touches my beard ) what you are getting is a form of tinder that will easily take a spark, just make sure you get enough hair cut/shaved as it burns fast. 

Charred cloth: Once you get a fire going, you know can make your own tinder using anything that is cotton.  Now a good number of you are outdoor savvy, and are saying to yourselves, " Hey I wear only synthetics"  well I find that a majority of people although wearing synthetic base layers, insulating layers, pants, and socks, people tend to still wear their cotton whitey tighties. Cut a portion of the cotton fabric and next place it into a beer can, soda can , Altoid can, ( poke holes on top for air flow)  (you can also use your mess kit), and now put this metal container with cotton over the fire.  Once the flame goes out and there is no smoke coming from within the metal container ( approximately 15-30 minutes ) your charred cloth is done  and will easily take a spark and create embers.

Chapstick candle / fire starter  Chapstick can be used to create a make shift candle  which could also be used as a long burning match to light a fire.  By inserting a wooden cotton swab, or a match into the center of the Chapstick, when lit this contraption will burn for a long time giving you temporary light or a long burning fire source that you can stick under your wood teepee that will slowly dry and ignite damp kindling.  

Alcohol stove converted into a candle Have an alcohol stove with you?   Convert your alcohol stone into a candle by cutting off a portion of your shoe laces to create a make shift candle wick with the addition of some aluminum foil.  Soak the section of shoelace into the alcohol, now poke a hole into the aluminum foil and feed then the shoe lace through the hole and put the rest of the shoe lace into the alcohol stove. Light the tip of the shoe lace and you now have a candle.

Have a camera cell phone with you? Go to your App store on your camera phone and install a Flashlight App.  This App will utilize your Flash on your camera phone and turn it into a high powered flashlight. This can also be done on any tablet with a camera.  WARNING use this sparingly as it will drain your cell phone fast.

A Hobo Heater: Also sometimes called a Hobo Stove. This is an easy, inexpensive heat source that has many uses. All you need is 3 things that you will scavenge from your home. (1) You need an empty tuna can ( that's easy to empty and I am willing to assist, Tuna Casserole anyone? )   (2) some strips of cardboard ( cut to make as wide as the tuna can which can be used as a template for width)  & (3) candles.

Start placing the strips of cardboard starting from the outside of the tuna can and keep placing it firmly into can. Repeat this process clockwise with the carboard until you have made a honeycomb like condition where all of the cardboard has filled the entire can. Melt the candle under low heat in a large pot (has to be large to prevent a chance of fire) and once it has melted slowly pour all of the wax on top and all over the cardboard. The wax should drip within the cardboard, around it and on top of it.  Wait for about 15-30 minutes for the wax to totally dry and now you have a heating source, and something that you can cook food over too. All you have to do is light it with a match or lighter and it will burn nice and hot for a long time.  I have used this for emergency situations and can even be used in a car with  the window slightly opened.  Same hold true for a tent but do not leave lit while sleeping.


Photo prior to candle wax being poured on to it.

Tea light clay heater  These are very useful but can be very dangerous if not taking the proper precautions.  It consists of 2-3 clay plant pots, a long thick metal screw, several large metal washers, several large bolts, and tea candles.  You place  one of the washers over the large screw then place the screw into one of the clay pot tops. Next you flip over that pot holding the screw into place and drop down another washer  followed by screwing in one of the bolts.  Repeat the process of placing a washer and then bolt, washer then bolt, until you have an array of washers and bolts inside the clay pot. Next you line the untouched clay pot with aluminum foil to prevent any candle wax from dripping out. Now you need to make a pot support so that the top clay pot and metal parts has a gap in-between top and bottom clay pots. One way this could be done is with smaller length screws and large bolts 2 bolts per screw making a kind of wheel axel that can tighten over the clay pots sides.  Put a couple of tea candles onto the clay pot with foil, now tighten the screw nut axels to the sides, light the candles and rest the top clay pot onto it and you now have a Tea Candle Heater. Make sure you put this entire thing on a Hot Tray Holder.


Milk Jug Dome light. Put new life into your Plastic white milk container using only your flashlight and a twig or pencil.  Get a mini to small flashlight with a hand loop or keychain on the handle.  Turn on flashlight and slowly insert it through the top of the Plastic milk container, using the keychain or hand loop, insert a twig, pencil or pen into the hole of the keychain or hand loop and then let the whole thing rest on top of the milk container.  You now have light being emitted from 360 degrees.

If you enjoyed reading this Blog  click Liked  (which is the Check Mark on this post) so that I know to choose more topics like this for future posts.

About the author:  Michael aka Mac, which is his shortened trail name for MacGyver, is a Survivalist and outdoor enthusiast with over 40 years of experience in the great outdoors. His background is in engineering & physics and he brings this knowledge into his gear inventions and outdoor experiences.  Now Michael aka Mac, when he is not in the wilderness, spends his free time as a Freelance gear reviewer of outdoor gear & gadgets, an outdoor Blogger,  and teacher of outdoor non combat survival skills.

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