I'm working on a new firestarter idea today.
I'll take what I learned at George and Angie's medicinal plant class and combine it with my love of firestarting prep.
I'm going to melt some paraffin in a double boiler and add some oil (olive probably) to make a slightly softer consistency and then add that instead of Vaseline to some cotton balls and jute twine to see how it works.
The wax dipped cotton balls I have used in the past work okay but they're so darned hard and the cold weather doesn't make then any softer. Combining the oil should make something more like a salve than a hard wax and, if it works, I might try to make a combination with beeswax and olive oil down the road that could be poured into a pill vial, cooled, and used in the field as a salve or a firestarter.
I'll let you know how it turns out.UPDATE:
I dipped the cotton balls in the paraffin/oil mixture about half-depth and immediately set them on a piece of wax paper to dry/cool. Once they were hardened, I put them in a pill vial.
I just took them outside to do some testing. It's currently 29 ° outside and the wind is blowing. I set one down, pulled some of the uncoated fluff, and lit it with my firesteel. One thing I had forgotten about waxed cotton balls, they need some special treatment. The fluff burned until it was burned up and the cotton ball went out. There was still more than 3/4 of the cotton ball left so I stomped on it and flattened it out. Then I kneaded it until I had some fibers and hit it with the firesteel again.
This is where I learned an important lesson about the Going Gear firesteels. Those molten globs that come off are burning at 5500° for long enough that you'll want to avoid getting any of them ON YOUR SKIN! I'm sporting a nice little spot burn now where I flicked a bit of the flaming metal on myself.
The cotton ball lit right up and burned with a strong, useable flame for the next 8 minutes and 57 seconds before it began to flicker and then burn out completely at 9 minutes and 16 seconds.
While it was burning, I lit another one after stomping it and set it down on a thick sheet of ice to see if it would continue to burn when wet and it also went right up. For the next three or four minutes it burned brightly and I could hear the ice sizzling and then abruptly the flame went out. There's some cotton ball left to burn later but the test was completed.
So, they burn longer than the Vaseline cotton balls but if you're on soft ground or snow you might have a hard time getting them prepped for lighting. That seems like it could be problematic when you're cold and needing warmth, light, and comfort.
Thanks for reading,