When you just HAVE TO make fire?

OK, so I’m re-vamping my safety gear for the winter paddling season, and once again find my disposable lighter rusted beyond use. I also carry waterproof matches, but find them hard to use with numb hands and always break 10 or 12 before lighting one, which promptly snuffs out in the wind. I have flint and steel in my bail-out bag, along with a ball o’ drier lint but can’t imagine trying to use it in an exposed situation.

This year I’ve added a candle lantern to my kit, which I could light and kneel over in my Kokatat storm cag in an emergency situation. What’s the best way to light a candle with shaking fingers in the wind? Whatever it is would have to be durable in a salt water environment.

Road flare
Those emergency road flares should take care of you. Pull off top, strike ends together to light, warm hands around it or place at base of firewood.

Old boy scout trick - huh !
Just reading the original post makes me shiver.



Scout Water
always worked for me :slight_smile:


And you want to do this stuff in WINTER…? You’re either crazy or Canadian…

Seriously, you might want to invest in either a good (expensive) stainless or cheap plastic cigar torch. Those things throw out a sharp, pretty high temp stiletto of flame (some come with a 3-jet nozzle that might even be better) that should light up just about anything you’d consider lighting. They don’t blow out in the wind. And perhaps best of all, both klutzes and numb-fingered paddlers should be able to use them quite easily.

The cheap ones can be had for between $5 and $10 (U.S. -what’s that, these days, about $50-$100 Canadian…? LOL!), the expensive ones -well, while the sky’s the limit would be stretching it, you can pretty easily spend $100 (US) on a good one.

Just a thought from an old cigar afficianado. Hey, they might make -and warm -your day after a few hours of wionter cold when you


-Frank in Miami

The choices are many.

– Last Updated: Dec-16-07 3:40 PM EST –

A gas charcoal or fire place lighter works well or cheap disposable cigarette lighters.

Second the road flare
Nothing better, or safer to carry, store, and use.



– Last Updated: Dec-16-07 4:41 PM EST –

Try Canadian Tire - usually about $20, they go on sale for about 1/2 price occasionally. Throw a pretty mean flame. Add about half a dozen firesticks - those sawdust/wax jobbies - heavily wrapped in multiple layers of cling-wrap to your dry bag, and you should be good to go.
You could even get really heavy about it, and get yourself a Neufeld Mark 1 stove - check it out at
Dandy design, lovely workmanship, folds flat, weighs about a pound, tiny but reported to be a ferocious burner...
Santa tells me Chris is getting one for Christmas - shhh!!!

Get outta the wind!
You’re on the right track with the candle. All it takes is a spark to hold long enough.

Unfortunately, I’ve had lighters I tested many times in the warm and dry of home, completely freeze and fail miserably in frigid temps when I’ve needed them most. Dipped “waterproof” matches are practically useless (although, if you can find the old “Strike Anywhere” matches near you, they are worth their weight in gold.) Get them, keep them dry at all cost alongwith your flint.

The more ingenious your kindling (like dryer lint, wax, woodshavings and small twigs packed in egg carton sections, or even in drinking straws) the more likely your flame stays lit. Lighter fluids, gasoline etc., give a big, potentially dangerous whoosh quickly, but won’t necessarily stay lit very long in the frosty Artic-like air. I’ve used a bowstring and fire drill to test my fire making survival skills. Not expedient and not at all easy --But a good worse case scenario back-up skill (like when matches get wet, or lighters fail)to learn and carry in the pack.

Like the pioneers used to say,

“Keep Yer Powder Dry.”

A New Disposable Lighter?
Or two… Wrap them up…

Geez, why didn’t I think of that, I have one in my toolbox. Thanks Keith, I’ll get another for my deck bag.

Ditto Grayhawk & keep @ least one close to your body. I’ve heard they can fail to function in extreme cold

Propane stove
And a scratch starter.

Depends on how “cold” …
… it is during cold weather. Propane stoves are notorious for not working well in extreme cold. Just about any buying guide will mention this issue. It’s not as bad as butane, but in really cold weather you can expect to have trouble making the stove run.

I have heard of that. How about a can of Sterno?

thermite, or you can light…


Thermite is safer, though.

Tried the latter…
…ruined a perfectly good drysuit. :frowning:

Aww, it ain’t that bad…(video)
Shot last weekend by my paddlin’ pal Lynda-Marie, I was invited but curiously under the weather after the previous evening’s kayak club xmas party.


Don’t F@#$% around with your life.
When you life is on the limb which is usually a four-minute life span in a 40’degree submersion, why waist any of those last minutes with a metal flint rod or a cheap lighter.

I bring a small bottle filled with “Liquid Boyscout” i.e. GAS!! OR Coleman Fuel.

SO when i crawl to shore in a forty mile an hour wind with ice crystals freezing to my eyelashes, every muscle in my body cunvulsing like spasms, im not going to waist any time getting a fire going. I grab ANYTHING that burns from wood, grasses, an old tire or even my Pelican Case or tent and let the fire roll. Dump the gas and a small spark will get you a hot fire enough to save your life. So dont dink around, make sure you get the fire going within seconds. Other things that burn well are your boots, your boat and life jacket too. I would think you’re all worth more than your material things.


– Last Updated: Dec-16-07 8:47 PM EST –

Magoo: What's the best way to light a candle with shaking fingers in the wind?

Answer: Cigarette. Easier to light wind blocked by face, and you supply "billows" with mouth. Then use cigarette to puff red hot, and light candle.

Thanks for the Kok Gore-tex storm cag input on my thread in the springtime. Just like you said, magoo_ns, it is one of the absolute best pieces of equipment I have and it goes with me on every kayak outting now.