nekkid and skeered

BlastMatch, one-handed fire starter

I just watched two episodes of Naked and Afraid. Two questions came to mind: 1) where do you buy those nifty blurry looking aprons that everyone wears and 2) why is the BlastMatch fire starter so popular?

The first question is not so important because it’s just a matter of style points. I’d like to have one to shock people at the beach. Can you just imagine the thought process at seeing something like that?

The second question is important, however.

Anyone who has been involved in a survival situation. or who has even watched the likes of Bear Grylls on TV. knows that fire is a vital part of survival because it plays so many important roles. It provides heat, security, signalling, cooking, water purification and emotional comfort. And most people know that a firesteel is a great tool for the purpose because it is compact, sturdy and waterproof.

All of the contestants on Naked and Afraid are screened for health, fitness and survival skills. I’d like to be privy to what skills they are seeking. It doesn’t seem that fire starting is one them. At least not good techniques.

My reason for bringing this up is that the last episodes that I watched featured the BlastMatch. which is a well made little tool that touts its ability to be used one-handed. This is an important feature if you are injured, but it takes a great deal of care and practice to use it properly in that situation.

I noticed in the Madagascar episode that the guy was using the BlastMatch in the “one handed” mode. He held the striker against the steel and pressed downward to send a shower of sparks into the tinder. Good in theory, but he found that this technique displaced his tinder resulting in no fire and a cold, miserable night. His partner had a good quality knife that could have made all the difference.

I’ve found that the best way to use the firesteel is to hold the knife blade just above the tinder and to pull the firesteel away from the tinder bundle. This technique lets you direct where the sparks will fall and you don’t run the risk of  knocking the tinder out of the way. They also might have had more success if they’d shredded the tinder a bit more to give more surface area and oxygenated area for the sparks to catch.

I also need to report that under heavy usage my BlastMatch experienced spontaneous disassembly,  i.e. it broke. Not entirely a bad thing, since the ferrocerrium rod is high quality and beefy enough to last for thousands of campfires. I just sawed off a section of deer antler and mounted the rod and have been using it for several seasons.

Yak's custom firesteel

I am not blasting the BlastMatch, just some of the techniques used with it. For a healthy two-handed person, use a striker or knife blade. If you are injured, the one-handed technique will work if you are careful. As with all survival skills – practice, practice, practice. It doesn’t become a skill without practice.

Wishing you many warm and flickering campfires.

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