Thursday, March 19, 2020

Cricket Firestarters

The other day I had to stop at a discount tool shop because I needed a fair quality hammer drill that would likely not survive the job I had for it, and I didn't want to spend a lot of money on it. While there, I wandered through their bins of assorted toys, tools, and miscellaneous crap and found a packaged firestarter for $1.99. Always looking for something new to try, I grabbed a few boxes to test and here's what I found.
  • Cricket firestarters are a compressed wood pulp stick, impregnated with wax, with a strike-on-box head like a common kitchen match. The box has the striker patch on the side like a box of matches and the sticks have a sizeable head on them, so getting one lit is simple.
  • Somewhere between a lifeboat match and a tinder ball, this product combines the ignition and long burn time of the two. That means you can carry one thing instead of two if you're looking to down-size a pack.
  • They advertise them as a 5 minute starter, so I timed a few. Of the four I lit, they varied between 5 and 6 minutes of burn time with a flame as long as the stick itself. When they burn out it is rather sudden, without much dimming of the flame.
  • I tested them outside on a mild day with variable winds around 10 mph and they showed no sign of being blown out by the wind. The flames did move with the wind, so they'd need to be kept close to your tinder. 
  • The flame was a bright yellow, similar to a candle flame, which makes sense since the wax is what was burning. The pulped wood left a small pile of ashes.
  • The instructions on the box suggest using one to three sticks to start a fire. From what I witnessed a single stick should suffice if you have paper, dry grass, wood shavings, or some other fine tinder. Trying to light twigs or wood splits would require two or more at a time to get enough heat and flame to get a quick burn. 
  • I did find them on Amazon, but at a much higher price. eBay and a few other online sources were all the same, $6 - $10 per box of 20, rather than the $1.99 I found them for. Reading a few reviews, it seems that these pop up in various "dollar" stores once in a while, so it may be worth keeping your eyes open for these.

All told, I'm impressed with this product. It does what it advertises, and if you can find them at the price I did they'll make a good addition to a cache or vehicle bag. They're a bit bulky for a bug-out bag, but if you have the room they'd be a good third or fourth method of starting a fire.

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