matches vs. lighter

possum, you gave a scenario and asked a question and I answered it based on my own experiences. If you fall in the water at minus fifty, your last act should be one involving flexing the spine. Kiss your ass goodbye. Is there water at minus fifty? I never found any at minus 17, but then I am not from the great white North. No, to answer your second question, if your hands are injured beyond use, they are beyond use. Warming them will not repair them. You are in this situation at minus fifty with no ready made fire, you gonna die. Check with a clinic or supply house that specializes in devices for quadropoligics. My friend had a bic case that did not require dexterity. Bumping it with a deliberate motion depressed and latched the button. He could then roll the lighter along any surface to ignite it. To turn it off, he would rap the lower portion of the lock lever disengaging it. No one would make them for him because of liability concerns. Maybe something has been commercially produced since. This was ten years ago. Alternately, a road flare is a giant match. Bigger objects are easier to hold with numb hands.

I'll try to add a little fuel to this fire. ;)
I am a firm advocate of actual experience, it teaches us loads, even if logic or opinion may say otherwise.

Try this:

A. Get some matches and the associated matchbox AND a Bic Lighter.

B. Go outside.

C. Drop both of them on the ground in a place of your choosing.

D. Pick up the Matches in "slow motion", being very careful to think about all the movements necessary to open the box, pick out a match and finally strike it.

E. Don't forget to light some tinder to complete this part of the experiment.

NOW, Repeat A thru E, except this time, picking up the BIC lighter.

Tell me, which requires more fine motor skill? Which would YOU rather have with you?

I will wager it is the BIC, I may be wrong, but, I believe the BIC would be easiest, by far, to pick up, hold, and light.

Still want more PROOF?
Get a bucket. Go to your Freezer pour your ice into the bucket. fill with a gallon of water. Add some table salt, it will make the water colder (Don't argue, we are in the middle of an experiment :) )
Immerse your hands into the bucket for as long as you can stand. Trust me, it won't be very long. Then when you absolutely can't take it anymore, leave your hands in there another 2 minutes.

NOW, repeat A thru E with both the matches and the BIC. Immersing your hands before each try.

I say the BIC wins, hands down (no pun intended).

I do think matches make great tinder.
skunk, your gonna make someone go and freeze a hand off! :D
What were you thinking???

but hey, this is a perfect example why to carry three, lighter, matches and a fire stick.
Don't forget the road flare! Portable blowtorch, heats coffee and scares away the Polar bears (when they come after your cup of java). :thumbup:

If anyone can hold their hand in a bucket of iced salt water for more than few minutes they need to have their own TV show. It is excrutiatingly tough to do.

I have actually done it, along with others, and grown men will actually hop around holding their cold hand when they pull it out after just a minute or two. :D

It wouldn't take very long to simulate fumbly numb cold hands.

Oh yes, and anyone who tries it,
DisClaimer: You are doing this on your own, I am not responsible for any harm to you.
***Especially if you get the bright idea to warm your hand back up using the hot water tap!! It can hurt like you smashed your hand with a sledge hammer.
Don't do it.

I told you so.
My normal load-out is a large YELLOW Bic in my pouch kit, a small YELLOW mini Bic in my canteen accessory pouch, Sparklite and six strike anywhere matches in my PSK, and a ferro rod of some sort. I only buy YELLOW Bics because they show up so well against the green/brown forest floor.

I'm not a big fan of matches because they are limited in number and prone to self destruction, blow-out, breakages, etc. I won't carry a lighter with an electric sparker and I have had bad experiences with refillable lighters both butane and the zippo type.

If I was concerend about extreme temps and high altitudes I might search for something more reliable. When I run my course we cover all the differnt techniques but they pretty much stick with the ferro rod and natural or man-made tinders for their fires. I do this because the matches and lighter are easy enough that they don't need the practice.

Matches are useful for teaching a proper fire lay because you can tell them they will only have one match to light it.

Seriously though the choice between the two is simple. If you have the choice between the two you have both present so take both. Mac
Doc, I also would like to hear more about that primitive skills camp.

I'm not referring to a primitive skills camp per se. There are different gatherings that occur from time to time that I try to attend. We used to have a group of people (about 20 - 30) that used to get together on a semi regular basis and learn and practise primitive skills. That group is now down to 3 of us.

Wildwood Survival has gatherings from time to time and these are always fun and informative.

Bush and Buckskin used to have primitive skills weekends but these are on hold for the moment. So there are usually a few things going on in the year. And, of course, anybody travelling into this area and have a few hours to spend, feel free to give me an email and we can get together, do a little firemaking, cordage making etc., check out a local natural area, do a plant walk, or whatever (assuming it's on one of my days off - Sunday or Monday, and you give me a little advance notice).

I love zippo's, i used to collect them, but i've given up carrying one. Pocket carry was no good for me as i used to get a rash from the fuel vapors slowly leeching out. That was regardless of whether the zippo was really tight or not. I have a zippo sheath but i rarely use it, i really prefer pocket carry. And as someone stated above Zippo's usually go dry after a week or so, even when you don't use them. I like the idea of a refilable lighter but honestly this one of the few instances where i would prefer to use something disposable!
A bic is just so cheap reliable and easily replaced, and you can carry it anywhere without leakages.
Anyway smoking is so politically incorrect right now its getting hard to find places that even sell the zippo fuel and flints. But every drugstore/convenience store i've seen have bics!
I always carry a bic and periodically i buy multiples, then i poke at least one each in my various backpacks/fannypacks/whatever.
Cheap insurance, beter to have one and not need one than to need one and not have one.
And still out of a sense of redundancy/duplication/? i usually have wax tipped matched tucked in a film cannister somewhere in my backpack too.
I always include a bic in my firekit, but I would not trust my life to it...cold weather or breakage due to a hard fall can make it useless. Matches are more reliable, as would be a zippo, even one with out fuel. put some tinder (char cloth/ vaseline cotton ball/etc) in the zippo's chimney, roll the wheel to throw some sparks into the tinder...ease the smoldering tinder into a bird/mouse nest or prepared tinder ball etc.and build up the fire.

This is nice because you can throw a spark into some tinder with one hand.
In a survival situation this could have some obvious benefits.