This evening I was part of a Boy Scout council roundtable meeting and I usually bring something hand-carved to be used as door prizes. Last weekend I made up about 5 fire starting kits for tonight's meeting which were quite popular as door prizes.
Gathering fat lighter is one of my favorite pass times while on my long walks in the woods. Fat lighter is the congealing of the sap in pine trees usually found in the stumps of decaying trees. This orange colored concentration of pine sap burns better than gasoline and is the perfect naturally found fire-starter.
Carving these small fat-lighter "flowers" is a lot of fun and it's something that you get much better at the more you do it. The wonderful aromatic smell is also alluring as you carve these little fire torches as the sap smells akin to a very strong pine aroma and you might detect a hint of turpentine smell since this same sap is harvested in the southeast for making it.
I just hold a small stick of sap wood and turn it with my fingers while pushing the shavings forward and the "flower" will gradually bloom right before your eyes. In Boy Scouts these little fire starting torches are called "fuzz-sticks" and every 2nd Class Scout learns to make them as part of their fire building requirements.
To make my little fire-starting kits I use a small snack-sized zip lock type plastic baggie. On the bottom I put several sticks of fat-lighter kindling, then 4 or 5 fuzz sticks followed by a small bundle of tinder made from the inner bark of tulip poplar trees.
This makes a nifty little gift to give away to some of your outdoor friends and I guarantee you that they'll love it. Tonight at the Scout meeting they were the first items to be taken by the folks who had the winning numbers. I guess that I've done my good turn for today. :)
Living in the mountains of North Carolina I have spent almost 30 very
rewarding years working with at-risk kids in a wilderness camping program as a counselor, outdoor educator, and woodshop teacher. To learn more about what my blog is all about, just scroll down this sidebar to "About my blog..."
1. Woodcarving/Woodwork: Working wood has been a lifetime obsession for me and I enjoy sharing what I know. It is my belief that hands-on and experiential learning has a direct and profound effect on the development of a child's intellect, confidence, and character. Projects of mine (and my students) will be posted as they progress and I will occasionally include a video tutorial. All of my videos can be found here .
2. Bushcraft/Primitive Living Skills: Finding ways to live closer to the land has always fascinated me. Whether it's building a shelter, fire starting, animal tracking, or just making rustic furniture... you'll eventually see some of it here.
3. Long Distance backpacking, canoeing, & bicycling: Some of my long distance adventures include thru-hiking the 2,600 mile Pacific Crest Trail, Mexico to Canada and I solo paddled the 1,800 mile Yukon river across northwest Canada and Alaska to the Bering sea. More detailed accounts of these and many other adventures can be found here
4. Sustainable Living: I'm always looking for better ways to do more by using less. It's not so much an "environmental" thing to me as it is a quest for personal independence from material things and finding a path to more substantive living .
5. Scouting Activity: As a scoutmaster of 6 years (and currently assistant scoutmaster) I'm actively involved with the troop and "Order of the Arrow" where it is a joy to volunteer hundreds of hours each year because investing in the next generation insures a better tomorrow for everyone. In an era when most schools don't value hands-on learning, outdoor education, and the arts... scouting soars in meeting these critical experiences for boys.
6. Profiles: Behind everyone's success you can usually find a trail of some very significant mentors and teachers along the way. And sometimes you don't completely understand how someone affected your life for the better until many years later. You'll find some of those stories here.