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Saturday, March 12, 2011

Thoughts on Bics

Thoughts on Bics

An inexpensive and effective fire kit. Ziploc with Bic lighter, two
Wetfire Cubes, a bag of PJCBs, ferro rod and striker.
This great post over at BFE inspired me to do a quick post on Bic lighters, which seem to get dumped on by a lot of people in survival communities. Yes, they do have their shortcomings, but they're also pretty awesome. Here's a few reasons why:
  • Bics are cheap; $1-$2 a piece
  • Bics last a long time. I have 5 year old Bics that are still working fine.
  • Bics are reliable. Most of the malfunctions you hear about with Bics (wet, cold) can be resolved. I recently dunked a Bic in water and left it submerged for 10 minutes. After about 30 seconds of effort to dry it (working water out of the mechanism), it lit and worked fine. I've also found old Bics, left outside in the elements for who knows how long, that worked fine.
  • Bics are source of flame. Flame is better than sparks, even hot ferro-rod sparks. You can't melt paracord, sterilize a needle and so on with a ferro rod. Starting a fire with a functioning Bic is easy stuff; starting a fire with a ferro rod requires good dry tinder. If you don't have any tinder and can't find any, you're SOL.
  • Bics are one-handed. You can operate a Bic with a busted arm. Ferro rods require two hands.
A Bic (or a pair of Bics) kept in a water-proof container (Ziplocs work fine) is a cheap and effective firestarter. Throw in some tinder and a ferro rod for backup and you've got a good little firestarting kit.