How many matches does it take a Boy Scout to light a fire? I've seen it done with 58 matches - seriously! But, it really should just take one match. Preparing the fire lay is important, but so is lighting the match.
There are better and worse ways to light a match. Many people hold with index finger and thumb and strike away, using the thumb to apply most of the friction pressure. First off, this puts a lot of stress on the thin matchwood which results in often broken matches. It also puts the match tip up and out in the wind where it more often than not goes out right away. Finally, it promotes thrusting the match into the tinder immediately, with just the chemicals flaring and before the match wood has started to burn.
Consider trying this method instead:
Hold the match like writing with a tiny pencil
Place your index finger and thumb up by the butt of the match, rather than the head
Place your middle finger close to the head of the match
Use your middle finger to put pressure on the matchhead to box
Strike the match towards you rather than away from you
Let the matchwood start burning before placing the match in your fire.
Placing your middle finger close to the head greatly reduces the chance of breaking the match. Since it is not used to hold the match, you can easily move it away when the match lights. After the striking motion, the match is left held between your index finger and thumb with the match head down and cupped in your hand, protected from wind. In this position, you can give the match wood time to catch and then light your prepared fire.
This post came at the right time, I gave a class this weekend on fire prep and building and used this demostration in my class. You would be amazed of how many adults did not know this great technique. Great post and handy info.
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