Many times over we have discussed the importance of being able to build a reliable fire. Be it for warmth or food preparation, having a heat source will at many times prove invaluable to you. While there are a lot of ways to start a fire and keep it going, there will come a time when rain is present and you will be faced with challenges in starting and maintaining a fire. Since rain naturally douses fires, it is an obstacle in the burning of one in most cases. However, there is an exception that will not only light but also continue to burn, and burn rigorously, when wet.
On a recent camping trip, I decided to step outside of the box and do some experimenting. My go-to over the years has been carrying cotton balls laden with petroleum jelly as a fire starter. While this works well, it has one major drawback and that is keeping and carrying this concoction next to food, which is unsafe. Since food is a component in most camping packs and BOBs, you can see where this is a problem. In addition to everything else that might go wrong in this world, the last thing I need to do is make myself or my family ill. Sure, you can dip these in wax for better and hopefully safer storage, but I'd rather not tempt fate. With that in mind, I opted to try something new and bought some Wetfire Tinder cubes.
Lots of things that seem too good to be true probably are, but in this case I was pretty impressed. All it takes is a few shavings off of a cube to get an immediate flame, although you must have a means of lighting it in the first place. Once burning, there is no smoke or odor and 1,300 degree heat can be achieved. To put out a Wetfire cube, all you have to do is smother it with a gloved hand. This is hard to do from a mental standpoint; since we all know fire is hot, it does not make sense to touch it. However, placing a gloved hand over the cube and depriving the fire of oxygen will put it right out. Since one of the appealing characteristics of these cubes is that it burns in water or when wet, dousing it with water to extinguish it is not an option. It must be deprived of oxygen by smothering. Doing this with a gloved hand did work, but I wouldn't try it with a bare hand mainly because I cannot get over the mental obstacle involved with sticking my hand atop a burning object.
Other benefits of Wetfire Tinder is that it is small in size and easy to carry. Weighing only 2 ounces makes it easy to put in your pocket or bag. If you are trying to keep your position a secret when using this item and must put the cube out once burning, the lack of smoke prevents your position from being given away. It is also non-toxic and leaves no residue and will not contaminate food stuffs. Cubes that are not fully used can be extinguished and re-used, giving you continuous fire capabilities, and all it takes to get a bigger fire burning is a handful of dry tinder used in correlation with a cube.
The drawbacks of using these cubes is that you do still need to light them somehow. Yes they burn hot and burn when wet, but they still have to be ignited. If you have an ignition source, it may not be necessary to also carry a pricey cube with you when natural tinder might be present for use. It has also been said that this stuff does not have a long shelf life, maintaining its usefulness for only about a year. This can be a problem if it is stored for longer than that as it may become unreliable.
The choice as to whether or not to embrace this product comes down to two things for me personally. The fact that it can be stored safely near food items is a huge selling point. This translates to less care being required to strategically pack and carry items so they will be safe from contact with one another. A downside is the short shelf life because reliability over a long timeframe is a major reason to embrace a tool such as this. Also a turn off is the need for ignition; if you are going to have to ignite something regardless, you can possibly make better choices as to what you wish to ignite, such as something present in nature, homemade, or cheaper to purchase. With all of this in mind, what are your thoughts? Is Wetfire Tinder something you would consider or something you use and swear by? It is something you have had bad experiences with and prefer to avoid? Let us know in the comments below!