I really want this magnesium-ferrocerium firestarter because it is elegant, inexpensive, and indisputably a help to survival, which all together give my acquisitive nature a good excuse. Making fire is a fundamental human need. Making fire in wet conditions without liquid fuel is impressive. This is coolissimo! I must have it!
This firestarter is simultaneously paleo and techno. I envision ancient human beings slamming rocks together to make sparks if their campfire died or was washed out. And then ferrocerium makes me imagine high-tech smelters shining in a darkened lab melting rare earths together. What a combination!
The part of the political spectrum in which I abide tends to attract preppers (that is the politically correct name for survivalists, the latter term having acquired a pejorative connotation). And so I’ve read a lot of descriptions of what a good prepper should have, such as Ferfal’s notes on Argentina and Selco’s notes on Yugoslavia. Selco says that lighters are good to trade. And many lesser known lists say you should have at least three ways of making fire. (Did you know you can start a fire by putting some steel wool across the contacts of a nine-volt battery?) This firestarter fills the bill nicely for one means of starting a fire – no battery to wear down, no fluid to evaporate.
I take much more care with preparedness than the average urban dweller. I have a headlamp (for electric outages), work gloves (for handling broken glass and wood after an earthquake), and iodine pills (in case the nuclear plant nearby goes kablooey). I plan to buy a few small emergency water filtration bottles (for the aftermath of an infrastructure-destroying hurricane). And I have a butane lighter, too; but that will be my sole gesture toward the need for fire.
In reality, I don’t need a means to start a fire. There is no place around here in the inner city where I can safely build a fire, and what am I going to burn? Keeping a hatchet to take down a tree is a little more commitment to prepping than I have. When the power went out in my neighborhood for three days, I persevered for two, and then when the temperature in my place dropped under sixty, I threw my laptop in a backpack and fled to the nearest four-star hotel to defrost, take a hot shower, and eat hot room service. If TEOTWAWKI happens in the dead of winter and there is no heat or electricity within walking distance, I am just going to have to be one of the millions of urbanites who will perish en masse like ye plague victims of olde.
Still and all, I want this firestarter, just because it’s neato. You want a gadget? You don’t need an iPhone in TEOTWAWKI, you want this. You get some tinder (ideally), then scrape some shavings of magnesium onto it, then use the scraper on the flint rod to strike sparks onto the magnesium. That is so cool, to set metal ablaze to save your life and that of others around you! And this company even has a decorated leather sheath for it! All for only $15.95 (the scraper and sheath are sold separately)!
But I can’t even try it out in my sink because burning metal is not exactly something you want in your sink. And it would just end up in a box of chowder so that I won’t be able to find it when TEOTWAWKI hits, assuming it ever does.
If your preparedness plans call for yet another means of making fire, this firestarter surely should be one of them. But realistically, I’ll never use it.