Chainsaw-chip Fire Starter

We get pretty good at fire-starting if we light enough fires, but there are

some ways to make it even easier. Solid-fuel fire-starters work well but kerosene-dampened chainsaw chips are always successful at minimal cost.

If you cut your own firewood, you can gather the chips around your saw-buck. If that isn’t possible, everyone has a friend who cuts wood and you can get chips there. Just scoop them up with a small shovel or dust-pan and put them in a bucket.

They are often wet, or at least damp, but will dry out in a mesh bag (laundry type or even an onion bag) left hanging in the garage or shed for a week or two.

There are often piles of larger chips left along the road allowance when a tree crew does clearing for power lines, or just clears along the highway. These are chunkier than chainsaw chips, but will work well when dried.

Gather some large-size coffee cans with the plastic lids and fill them with the dry chips. Clear plastic peanut butter jars also work well, as the lids on either choice seal well enough to prevent the kerosene from evaporating  for as long as a year or so.

Remove the lids and pour in a moderate amount of kerosene (NEVER gasoline). The amount varies with the size of the container, but a cup is probably adequate for the large coffee cans.

The sealed kerosene/chip containers can be stored in an outdoor shed, with only the one currently in use inside the building where the stove is located.

To get a fire started outside, or in a stove, use a cupful or so of the chips on and under the kindling and drop or hold a lighted match up to it.

It will burn for 8-10 minutes and will usually get the fire going unless the kindling is wet. In that case, use more of the chip,s as the longer initial burn will get damp or wet wood going more easily. Add larger wood pieces as the kindling burns.

This material is good emergency fire-starter. I carry filled smaller-size plastic peanut butter jars (with twist on/off lids to prevent leakage) in my boat and also in my equipment bag on the snowmobile

Cold hands in winter, or from being wet, make any other method of fire-lighting very difficult, and in extreme (emergency) situations this fire-lighting method can be a life-saver.

Duct-tape a waterproof match container or BIC lighter to the outside of the jar, so everything you need is all together.

Gasoline should never be used on the chips, as gas vaporizes more readily and causes a large, dangerous flash when lit.

Kerosene can also vaporize if you’ve tried unsuccessfully to get a fire going and the kindling, et cetera is still hot. The result in that situation is similar to using gasoline, so it is important to be very careful.

It can also be dangerous to add more kerosene soaked chips to a fire that isn’t flaming as well as you’d like it to be. Use enough chips at the start and you won’t have that problem.  

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