Good old American ingenuity…that’s what it’s all about. You have to admire those folks that are always tinkering with things to see if they can build a better mouse-trap. That’s how we got intermittent wipers for our automobiles, and it’s why we’re now moving more to LCD screens for our computers monitors and televisions instead of the tried and true cathode ray tube versions. It’s the American way. But, the longer something dominates a market or particular area, the harder it is to find a better design. Speaking of mouse-traps, those were invented over a hundred years ago, but the same basic design is still in place. Think about Bic lighters. As far as function goes, it’s hard to improve upon the design except for cosmetic feature like gold plating and so forth. And, the same could be said about fire starting material. That’s where the Fire Fixins product comes into the picture. I received an email from a fellow named James Boggs that lives across the river from me in Ironton, Ohio and he wanted us to take a look at something that he and his son put together. Originally, this was a project for his son’s Boy Scout group. Then, the two of them decided that maybe there was enough interest out there for them to package and market the materials to outdoors folks. That’s when the idea of Fire Fixins was born!
Fire Fixins is a relatively simply product to use. The majority of it is jute twine that is waterproofed with wax (which also helps it burn longer) and then folded into a nice little bundle. Once done, another piece of jute cord (a lanyard of sorts) is tied to the bundle and it holds a length of fatwood that’s approximately 3.5" long. The idea is to take a piece of the jute cord and pull it apart into several threads and form something like a bird’s nest. After this is done, the user shaves some slivers from the piece of fatwood onto the little nest of twine. This combination will serve as your tinder as you’re starting the fire. Once you also have your kindling in a pile and some larger pieces in another pile, you’re ready to go. Following this method, you should be able to start a fire in no time if you have any experience in outdoors fire-starting methods. It will work even if you don’t have experience as I point out later in the reviw.
For our test, I used a Light My Fire Army Model firesteel in conjunction with a Corona Sharpening Tool which I bought from Lowe’s. I got the Corona after receiving a tip from Kevin Estela at the Wilderness Learning Center, and he was right. It is one of the best strikers I’ve ever used, and it’s the perfect length for a strong purchase on the striker to make lots of hot sparks. I used just a little bit of the twine, and only shaved a small amount off of the fatwood. It was fairly dry out and I didn’t figure I needed alot to get a fire going quickly, and I wanted to make sure I had a good quantity for others to use and test in the future as well. But, I didn’t need to use much at all anyway. It took only a few strong strikes for the jute threads to catch and then for the fatwood shavings to help keep it going while I started piling on the kindling. We killed the fire and I had my brother do it as well. He’s never used a fire and flint before, and once he was shown the method, he had no issue starting a fire with the materials in just a few strikes as well. The Fire Fixins did the job they were supposed to do!
Now, the concepts behind the Fire Fixins aren’t new ones. Man has used similar types of tinder in the past to start fires. Fatwood has long been one of the favorite types starter material to be used by savvy outdoorsmen. Fatwood comes from the stumps of pine trees where the resin has settled and permeated the wood. It is an excellent way to hold a small fire while you’re feeding it kindling. Using the wax-impregnated jute cord is a good idea because it keeps the cord waterproofed, and the wax helps the cord burn a little longer than normal–just like a candle wick! One product I have used in the past for this purpose are the cotton tinder tabs that come with the Spark-Lite firestarter. Once you pull those slightly apart and puff them out a bit, they catch a spark very quickly. In fact, when I did my test yesterday with the Fire Fixins, I found that the tinder tabs did catch fire a little easier than the jute cord, but some of that I attribute to being the first time working with the cord and may not have had it split apart enough. The advantage to the jute cord, however, is that it is basically waterproof where the cotton tinder tabs are not. And, if you think about it, the times that you need a fire the most might have something to do with water–like a boat capsizing, thunderstorms, snow, etc. So, both the Fire Fixins jute cord and the cotton tinder tabs have certain advantages over each other depending on the critera the user is considering.
I have read articles in the past where people have tried to make their own fire starters. One article went through the steps of how to use cardboard egg cartons, dryer lint, and paraffin to make a good fire starter. I know all kinds of people that use the vaseline-soaked cotton balls as part of their kit. And there are newer items on the market like Maya Dust from Light My Fire, which is also fatwood that’s already shaved off and stored in a waterproof tin. Personally, for me, the Fire Fixins piece of fatwood is more compact and easier to carry than a tin of Maya Dust. I think I can handle the chore of shaving off some strips of fatwood to use for making a fire. What I like is that James and his son have taken a good idea a step further by putting together these two items (the jute and the fatwood) into one package and selling them for a good price. Right now, the Fire Fixins package retails for approximately $3.75 U.S. This isn’t a bad price at all considering the work and packaging that’s involved. This is a time-tested product with regard to the fire-starting media that’s used, and it’s a nice addition to your survival pouch just in case one of those times you really need to start a fire hits you square on the nose. It’s simple, easy, and just works!!
James and his son are in the process of getting retailers online to distribute the Fire Fixins products, so if you’re interested in product, get in touch with him and he’ll point you in the right direction.
Currently, the following retailers carry the Fire Fixins product:
Bens Outdoor Products