As I said previously, there are many methods you can use to protect your matches. I favour a small plastic container with a screw-top lid.
You can also use two old shotgun cartridges to make a container. Remove the plastic from one cartridge by burning it in the fire and this will then be the container top. Remove the crimped plastic on the end of the other cartridge and the container is complete.
It is recommended to cover the nipple inside the lid with wax as it has been known for matches to “strike” and ignite on this while in the pocket.
You can also cover the matches in wax to protect them. One method is to poor a thin layer of melted wax in a matchbox tray and then lay matches into the wax. Then add another layer of wax and more matches until you fill the tray. Then just leaver out a match when you need one. I have found with this method that the stem of the match will often break as you remove it though (just like the one in this picture).
I prefer instead to individually coat the matches. First I wrap each match in a layer of cotton wool and then dip the match in melted wax, ensuring the whole thing is completely covered.
When I want to use the match I remove the layer of wax around the head and then strike it as normal. The cotton wool acts as a wick and the match burns rather like a candle. One of these matches will burn for up to two minutes!
Whatever method you use to protect your matches, it should be able to withstand being in water for up to ten minutes without the matches becoming wet.
Do not be lulled into a false sense of security by carrying so called “waterproof matches”
Although the head has a waterproof coating, after ten minutes in water moisture has soaked up the stem of the match and inside the head. You can see in the picture below that the head has started to disintegrate as I tried to light the match.
and here is a close-up of the head
There are ways you can protect matches yourself and we will cover some of those in part three.
I always carry at least three different ways of making fire and probably the most reliable is the good old match. One of the issues here in the UK is that the majority of matches available to purchase are safety matches which means they can only be struck using their box. I always carry “strike anywhere” matches as at least if the box gets wet you can still strike them on any rough surface (such as a metal zip). One make of “strike anywhere” matches available here is the good old Swan Vesta.
The way to strike a match is to support the head and stem of the match, with the head pointed down.
Place the head of the match at the top of the striker with the head pointed down
When the match ignites move it into your cupped hands to protect the flame from the elements and to allow the flame to establish.
Of course striking the match relies upon the match being kept dry and there are several ways of achieving this, but we will cover this soon.
Heavy rain most of the night and this morning, then sunny for the rest of the day.
I went walking around the marsh today to look for birds.
The marsh was very quiet apart from one Whooper Swan.
The marsh is covered with Cotton Grass. This picture was taken by Jon Pickett last year
I stopped for a brew mid morning
Making a fire is so simple here. I collect an armful of the lower dead branches of Spruce and Pine and put some Birch bark into them
and then spark into the Birch bark with the firesteel and with the help of the resin in the dead wood you quickly have a good fire.
I used some larger pieces just to rest the pot on.
Other birds on my walk included 2 Goldeneye and the Grey-headed Woodpecker again. I returned to the cabin and after lunch finished some of the items I had made from antler. Here are some examples of things I made.
From left to right; sewing needle, necklace bead, toggle and finally an awl.
Anki returned to stay at her cabin this afternoon and while we were chatting we met a guy from the Swedish Forest Company who told us that they have decided to preserve a large area of trees behind our cabins. Quite a lot of these trees are large and old, and unlike those in the managed forest, are of suitable diameter for woodpeckers and owls to nest in. This si really good news!!
I am sure you all know that amadou is a thin layer of velvety material found between the spore tubes and cortex of Fomes fomentarius False Tinder Fungus. Rather than collecting large fully grown specimens, I go for the young small ones which are almost all amadou and need very little work to prepare.
I just beat the fungus flat with a stone, then cut it into strips and allow it to dry. I then char one end of a strip which greatly improves its efficiency to take a spark.
For this demonstration I used the edge of a flat chainsaw file to achieve a spark with the flint
Once the amadou is ignited I place it inot a tinder bundle and blow until I achieve a flame.
The smouldering amadou can then be snuffed out and used again.
Those who know me well or have been on one of my courses will be aware that my favourite tinder for firelighting is the seed heads of Common Reed (Phragmites australis) .
It is available for 9 months of the year, and because the seed heads are so far off the ground it tends to dry very quickly even after rain. Unlike some seed heads it does not “flash burn” burn instead burns quite slowly as you can see in the piece of video ( I am using a firesteel to ignite it).
Here are a couple of ways of cooking eggs in a campfire.
First cut an onion in half and scoop out the middle layers to form a cup. Break an egg into this cup.
Place in the embers of your fire and leave to cook.
The egg absorbs the flavour of the onion as it cooks.
Another method of cooking an egg is to cut one end off of a large potato, then hollow the potato out and crack an egg into it.
Wipe some egg white around the top of the potato and place the top back on. Wrap the potato in foil and place in the embers and leave to cook for 40 -50 minutes. This is the end result.
I was up early this morning to make the most of the weather conditions.
After a long walk, I headed in to the woods to find shelter, make a fire and have some lunch. You can see that this Spruce tree would provide shelter as there is no snow beneath it, but it is still rather exposed.
This fallen, Ivy covered tree provides shelter and is much less exposed, so this is where I decided to stop. The ground beneath was dry and there was sufficient dry, dead wood within as fuel for a fire.
My first task was to clear the ground of leaves and debris and to remove settled snow from above the fire site because it would melt and then drip onto me and the fire. Then I made a platform from dead wood to make my fire on. Using a firesteel with two feather sticks and some Birch bark from by tinder pouch, I made a fire.
My next task was to get some water boiling to enable me to make coffee and soup.
Having soup would give me the chance to try out the new Birch bowl I had completed yesterday.
The water took about ten minutes to boil and I soon had coffee and a warm bowl of soup prepared.
All I had to do then was sit back and enjoy it.