Saturday, May 26, 2012

Fear, Fire, and a Failed Camping Trip

Isn't it ironic, don't you think? I started a blog about my house catching on fire and now I'm going to write about firestarters. 

Well, why not?

I love these little firestarters. I never start a fire without one. Ah, ah, ah...I didn't start the house fire- the crock did. When I start a fire, I use a firestarter and it is a one-match fire. Well, it would be...if I could light a match. But I can't. Because I'm terrified of fire. 


There is the irony. I know. Me, Camp Fire kid, volunteer, club leader, staff member...Basic Outdoor Leadership trainer...foil pack cooker extraordinaire, perfect marshmallow roaster...scared of fire. Terrified. Always have been. 

One year my family surprised me at a restaurant for my birthday by having people come out and sing to me. The exuberant wait-staff snuck in behind me and surrounded me placing a giant dessert in front of me with a SPARKLER in it. I was trapped. I couldn't escape. I nearly tumbled backward out of my chair. There were sparks flying at my face. I was mortified. Worst. Birthday. Ever. Ever

I can't bring myself to actually make the match explode into flame in my fingers. Can't do it. I can't use a regular lighter either. Can not. Can't put the flame that close to my fingers. I cannot physically make myself turn the little wheel. I've tried. I don't cook on an open flame. Except when we're camping- I'm fixin' to get to that. 

In our house, the house that succumbed to fire, we had a smoke alarm on every floor in almost every room. And they were all going off when the Big Guy arrived home to find the fire. We had a fire extinguisher on every floor. We even had an extinguishing log for the fireplace which we rarely used, because... you know...intentionally starting a fire in my home just seemed...INSANE. I was scared to death of a house fire. Go figure. 

Anyhow...camping. When we go camping, I feel compelled to actually cook over an open fire. I am an excellent firestarter. I am excellent at starting the fire because, let's be honest here, once the fire is actually lit, I am terrified of it. It is imperative that I get that sucker to light correctly the first time!

The key to a successful fire is a bucket of water (that's right, the first thing you need to start a safe fire, campers, is water) and a firestarter. You can buy such things, but that is silliness. 

Scented firestarter clump.
You can make your own for nothing and they work great. If you use scented wax and actually start a fire in your home intentionally, in that thing called a fireplace, the scent is a pleasant bonus. 

This is how you do it:

Step one-
Scrounge up a paper egg carton. You'll want to put it on foil or a paper plate or something so you don't get wax on your counter. 

Step two- 

Salvage your old wax. I use the wax from my candle warmers after the scent is gone, but I have been known to use the bottoms of candles, and even old crayons. Any old wax will do and these do not need to be pretty. (As evidenced by my example.) 

Step three- 

Figure out how to get the melted wax into the paper egg carton without pouring it all over the counter. When you figure that out, drop me a note would ya?

That's it. Tear those little sections apart and use them to start your fires with. The most effective method I've found is to place one under the tinder and kindling and pack some dryer lint around it. There is truly nothing more flammable in your home than the stinkin' dryer lint. Light the edge of the egg carton and then go sit far, far from the fire while other people add logs. Oh, wait that's me. Light the edge and then tend your fire!

The perfect one-match firestarter. 
You'll only need one match (or if you're like me and have an irrational fear of fire, a really long lighter) to get your fire going because the paper will burn long enough to ignite the wax. The wax will burn long enough to ignite your tinder, and so on. The dryer lint is your power boost. Guaranteed one match fire. If it doesn't work, then you're doing it wrong. 

I made firestarters today because we planned to camp over the long weekend. We needed a getaway and I had big dreams of sitting in a lawn chair, roasting marshmallows, sleeping in our little trailer beside the lake, just listening to the breeze. Then I remembered...we had a house fire. We don't own lawn chairs. Or roasting sticks. Or lanterns. Or any of the camping gear we used to pack. 

Suddenly camping became a new challenge. We began making a list of the bare minimum things we would have to purchase before heading for the lake. Lawn chairs are kind of essential. And sunscreen. That is a definite requirement. We were working on our minimalist plan for escape when the Big Guy realized that perhaps that coleslaw he had for dinner that didn't taste quite right...really wasn't quite right. 

Sigh. Maybe I'll just pitch a tent in the backyard and roast marshmallows in the fire pit and pretend I'm not in the final stages of fire recovery hell.      

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