Campfires are quite simply part of my culture – so much so that I've been on an eternal quest for a foolproof fire starter, and I may have found it in a recent product from Coghlan. When you want to light a recreational campfire on a whim or a life-saving, warming, cooking or signal fire in the wilderness, you need a foolproof fire starter or the experience will be fraught with frustration, hypothermia, exposure, or worse. Sure, we all know about collecting sufficient duff and tinder, dry twigs, and a collection of ever-larger chunks of fuel for making a hot and lasting fire, but even with the best of fuel, when the wind is howling and the rain is pouring, getting the fire lit can be more than problematic.
I’ve ignited my share of fires in the wilderness, but these days I tend to light casual and therapeutic campfires at the farm. I have plenty of tinder and kindling around and lots of lovely hardwood splits and billets to bring on a marvelous glow, but there are times when the Kansas wind is howling at 26 miles per hour, which is sufficient to snuff most lighters, matches and render friction techniques pretty useless. Grilling at our farm carries the same concerns – when we're hungry for grilled grassfed loin of lamb, we need something to set off the charcoal chimney in spite of the rain and wind.
Last weekend, when my Partner in Culinary Crime wondered aloud whether we mightn’t have a campfire about 2 minutes before dark, I sprang into action. I had plenty of tinder and kindling from the woodworking shop and had brought in a couple of tractor bucket loads of nicely seasoned black walnut and Osage orange firewood – but the wind was positively blasting. So after some failed attempts at setting off the tinder with my trusty “strike anywhere” matches, I remembered that my survival stash included some Coghlan's #1170 Storm Matches. Once I located them, it took only one strike and one match to get the fire going – foolproof if you ask me. The #1170 Storm Matches work in the wind and when wet, and they burn sufficiently long and hot to graduate any fire builder to the “one match” club.
Hank Will raises hair sheep, heritage cattle and many varieties of open-pollinated corn with his wife, Karen, on their rural Osage County, Kansas farm. His home life is a perfect complement to his professional life as editor in chief at GRIT and Capper's Farmer magazines. Connect with him on Google+.