“A mighty flame followeth a tiny spark” (Dante Alighieri)

A lighter is a godsend in the jungle but they can run out of fuel.  Luckily it isn’t too difficult to turn an empty lighter into a ‘spark stick’ and, if you have the right tinder to hand, a fire is easy enough to start.

PSK_fire_kitThe fire kit I show in the video is one that can be put together at virtually no cost, is small and simple to make and can be added to a PSK as a back up in case your main lighter gets lost or runs out of fuel.  The advantage this type of fire kit has over a spare/back up lighter is that it isn’t reliant on having gas in it to work…all you need is a spark.

An alternative to this would be to take in a ferro rod instead (or convert your empty lighter into a spark stick in the field) and there is nothing wrong with doing this as long as you’re practised at it.  Either a converted empty lighter or a ferro rod are easily capable of getting a fire going, the trick is to know what sort of tinder you are able to light with these tools and either bring it along with you or know how to identify sources in the wild.

Here in Malaysia the fish tail palm is a key plant to know for tinder and is used locally in fire pistons as well for blow pipes (a small piece is placed behind the dart to give better compression).  The weak spark from an empty lighter isn’t capable of lighting much more than charred materials, cotton wool soaked in wax and fish tail palm so don’t expect too much of it and it certainly doesn’t produce sparks as hot as those from a ferro rod.  However, if you have those tinders, or can either make them (i.e. char stuff) or find it (e.g. fish tail palm) an empty lighter can keep starting fires for you until you run out of flints.

How to change the flint on an empty lighter is another reason I wanted to do this video as the method of putting the flint in from the top is a bit tricky and there is a danger of the spring flying out into the jungle where you have almost no chance of ever finding it again.  Putting the flint and spring in from the bottom of the lighter is a better way to do this and removes a lot of the risk of the spring flying out of your grasp.