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Saturday, September 12, 2009

Update on tinder tubes

I have great success with the 3/8" tube and getting a good coal is a breeze. I went to OSH hardware the other day and bought 2 feet of 1/2" clothesline rope (label says 100% cotton) since I have some 1/2" brass tubing. When I tried to get a coal it was no use. No matter what I did the coal would go out and not even spread across the end of the rope. I thought "is it the size of the rope? Is there some man made material in the rope hindering ignition? I asked the guys over at Bushcraft USA and one in particular said he had the same problem and believes they put a fire retardant in the rope. That makes sense. Another said maybe synthetic materials but I looked at the burnt end under magnification and there is no sign of molten plastics or other synthetics, also, there was no nasty synthetic smell when I fired it up. Now I did notice one difference and that is the 1/2" rope is very white where as the smaller diameter ropes are grayish. Maybe the grayish ones are not as processed as the white rope? I would try to buy the grayish cast rope if at all possible and be sure the label on the reel or package says 100% cotton. Some cotton clothesline has a nylon core. By the way, the best way to store the tinder tube is in a heavy zip lock bag so its always damp/water proof.


deanS said...

I would agree on the processed guess as being the reason. The whiteness may mean that the cord has been bleached and/or had other chemicals added. Have you tried washing the 1/2" cord and checking the results?

Ron Layton said...

Hi Dean S
I haven't bothered with the 1/2" cord yet. Too many projects going. I will do the washing test and hopefully any retardants will be washed out. I'll post an update with the results.
Take care

Anonymous said...

I was watching a Ray Mears video and he said his cord is impregnated with saltpeter (potassium nitrate - KNO3) which made it light and burn better.

I'm going to buy some Spectracide stump remover (have a stump to get rid of anyway) at Lowe's. It is supposed to be pure KNO3. I'm going to soak my cord in a solution of water and KNO3 and let it dry.

Paul Campbell

Ron Layton said...

Hi Paul Most of the powder stump removers are KNO3. I bought a bottle at the local Orchard Supply and its Green Light brand. I remember reading an article many years ago in Backwoodsman magazine about using the same stuff for slow match fuses on matchlock rifles. I treated the 1/2" rope and now it works just fine.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad to know the treatment of KNO3 worked out well. I remember reading about the making of slow match but forgot when I was writing my comment yesterday.

Recently I made fire with flint, steel, and char cloth for the first time. It was a moving experience!

I've been reading Backwoodsman for about 3 years now and had a subscription for 1.5 years. I love to find it in the mailbox!