Author Topic: why bic lighters are a bad idea for survival  (Read 10729 times)

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Offline taiga

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why bic lighters are a bad idea for survival
« on: April 06, 2020, 06:56:27 PM »
Have some free time on my hands as of late, decided to hit the woods with my wife and kids, lucky we have some state game lands not far from home where we can get away from people. Packed enough food and gear for a day out in the forest, grabbed a bic lighter i keep in the cabinet above the fridge for fire starting duties and tossed it in my pack. After hiking around for about an hour found a great spot for out day camp and got set up, gathered fire wood and grabbed the bic from my pack, gave it flick of the wheel and it just spun free? tried tapping it on a rock nothing, finally i pried the guard off and removed the striker wheel, the ferro rod and completely corroded and was frozen in the lighter, i tried scraping and poking with the tip of my knife but it was shot. lucky thing i had a cheap full size ferro rod in my emergency supplies in my pack and we had a fire in no time. i have stashed bic lighters is survival kits for years thinking they were the best way to start a fire in an emergency, from now on i will pack full size ferro rods in my kits, they may not be as simple to use but will allways work even after long term storage.     

Offline xj35s

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Re: why bic lighters are a bad idea for survival
« Reply #1 on: April 06, 2020, 07:16:29 PM »
Yup. I really like the harbor freight magnesium blocks too. Nothing burns hotter than magnesium.

It's funny, everyone talks about them going empty or not working when wet. I picked up a flint wheel and tinder tabs in a plastic match case for a few bucks at our local army navy surplus store. I think I prefer it full of matches though. LOL.
pessimist complain about the wind. optimist expect the wind to change. realist adjusts the sails.

Offline wsdstan

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Re: why bic lighters are a bad idea for survival
« Reply #2 on: April 06, 2020, 10:47:35 PM »
You had that backup rod and that is the way it goes sometimes.  In a way it is a good thing that it failed as it will reinforce for the rest of us that things don't work sometimes. 

Bic failure aside it sounds like you had a good time in a good place. 
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Offline crashdive123

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Re: why bic lighters are a bad idea for survival
« Reply #3 on: April 09, 2020, 11:48:40 AM »
I disagree.  A Bic lighter is not a bad idea. 

What is a bad idea is not making sure it works before needing to rely on it.

What is a bad idea is not having a back-up when are out in the woods.

Glad you had a back-up.

Offline Marta34

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Re: why bic lighters are a bad idea for survival
« Reply #4 on: May 10, 2020, 06:23:17 AM »
A survival kit is really needed in an uncertain scenario like that. But, in case you don't have a kit, survival techniques are another option. I was reading this article https://www.toolazine.com/survival-techniques-lost-wilderness-lost-woods-forest/ it talks about techniques to survive and one of the highlights is starting the fire. It might help you, too.

Offline Moe M.

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Re: why bic lighters are a bad idea for survival
« Reply #5 on: May 10, 2020, 09:43:18 AM »
 I have to respectfully disagree with the OP's suggestion that Bic lighters are a bad idea for survival preparedness,  It's been my experience with Bic lighters that they are extremely reliable (not so much for the cheap imitations found on the market).
 Having been a smoker for too many years I used Zippo lighters and kept Bic lighters as a back up, as far as the flint that comes in Bic lighters I've never seen one wear out before the lighter runs out of fuel, in fact I used to pick up discarded Bic lighters that had run out of fuel and saved the flint (ferro rod) that was left in them, usually the used flint that remained was longer and sparked much better than the commercial replacement flints that come in the five packs at the grocery store or smoke shop,  and they fit in Zippo lighters like they were made for it.
 Some of the usual complaints about Bic lighters by outdoors people are that they don't work when wet or that they don't work well when the temps dip below freezing,  This is the first I've heard about a flint (ferro rod) in one corroding to the point that it was rendered useless, IMHO Bic lighters are regarded with the same respect and on an equal par by bush crafters right along side of Mora knives.
 All that said,  anyone that wonders around in the wild places where there's a chance of being thrust into a survival situation, or that has to count on making a fire for warmth, to purify water, or to prepare food, should never rely one only one means to effect fire, if they do they well deserve the discomfort and inconvenience that they have earned.
 I have through years of experience learned that the most unreliable means of making fire are common matches, I carry several Bic lighters in my pack's various pouches such as the fire kit, first aid kit, and cordage bag, as well as a ferro rod or two in my pack and one on my belt knife sheath,  and often carry a small flint and steel kit in a small tin in my fire kit.
 I'm a practicing minimalist and carry very little in the way of redundant gear,  but the means to make fire is not one of them. 
In youth we learn,   with age we understand.

Offline woodsrunner

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Re: why bic lighters are a bad idea for survival
« Reply #6 on: December 03, 2020, 07:59:07 AM »
I agree with Moe and others on this...i almost always carry one or two Bic lighters afield.
But i almost always have a ferro rod hanging from my packs shoulder strap...i rarely use the ferro rod, but its there.
every now and then i check the fluid levels in my lighters and replace them as needed  :fire2:...woods
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Offline Mannlicher

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Re: why bic lighters are a bad idea for survival
« Reply #7 on: December 27, 2020, 03:45:12 PM »
my 'go to' fire starting gear is matches, but I always have other methods.  Bic is out with a new model lighter.  Same size, but now with an extended tip,  so you can get the flame to the material easier.

Offline wolfy

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Re: why bic lighters are a bad idea for survival
« Reply #8 on: December 27, 2020, 04:13:45 PM »
I had a buddy that didn't smoke, but always started his campfires with a $2 copy of a Zippo lighter.  He'd get his tinder ready, strike the flint wheel and then just toss the whole flaming torch into the carefully laid tinder/kindling mix.  After the flames got started well, he'd drag it back out of the fire with a stick, snap the cover closed and stick it back in his pocket.  He said, ''That's the way my Grandpa taught me how to do it and it always seems to work for me.'' :shrug: :lol:
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Offline wsdstan

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Re: why bic lighters are a bad idea for survival
« Reply #9 on: December 27, 2020, 06:07:39 PM »
I remember watching Woods start fires with a stick in less time than it takes me to light one with a Bic or a flint and striker. 

These days I carry a ferro rod and striker in my kit and one of those long lighters you use to light a BBQ without getting all the hair on your arm singed.  If a hike is involved I try my old Marble's metal match safe or a Bic.  I need to do that kind of stuff more these days.
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Offline duxdawg

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Offline wsdstan

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Re: why bic lighters are a bad idea for survival
« Reply #11 on: December 30, 2020, 01:25:38 PM »
Dux, my virus protection says I cannot go there as it is a dangerous site.  ?????
A man who carries a cat by the tail learns  something he can learn in no other way. 
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Offline duxdawg

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Re: why bic lighters are a bad idea for survival
« Reply #12 on: January 21, 2021, 11:38:05 AM »
Try YouTube. Channel name is "junglecrafty".

Lighters: an underrated survival item?
 

Firesteel: an overrated survival item?
 

Jungle survival: advanced flint & steel 
   





Offline duxdawg

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Re: why bic lighters are a bad idea for survival
« Reply #13 on: January 21, 2021, 11:55:52 AM »
Tons of vids and articles about how to deal with potential issues with lighters.
As with everything, knowing the in's and out's allows us to overcome whatever issues come our way.

Cold? No problem. Wet? No problem. Out of fuel? No problem. Etc. 

Survival Pro Tips 1: Making Fire with an Empty Bic 
David Canterbury
 

Next Fire Mentality
David Canterbury
 

Bic Lighter Exposure Test 8.0 | 1 Year in the Woods
Black Owl Outdoors

A year of sitting out in the weather, yet the trusty Bic lit right up.

Offline duxdawg

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Re: why bic lighters are a bad idea for survival
« Reply #14 on: January 21, 2021, 12:07:00 PM »
My point being that most issues with gear result from the ignorance of the user.

For instance, the OP's corrosion issue is well known. It's called "electrolysis".
Failing to prevent electrolysis is the users fault, not a fault of the gear.
Everything has it's strengths and weaknesses. Of course we must navigate them intelligently to get the most out of our gear.

Whenever we have more than one metal touching, liquid (even only occasional light condensation) and electrolytes (salts, acids, etc); then the conditions for electrolysis are present.
Since ferrocerium is made of at least six metals (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ferrocerium),
that component is ever present with lighters, ferro rods, etc.
What we can do is minimize the exposure to moisture and electrolytes.

By the way, outdoorsman have had entire 4"x5/16" ferros turned into a pile of useless gray mess simply from a soy sauce packet breaking open between trips.
Thus ditching the lighter and relying on a ferro instead won't solve this issue. After all, lighter "flints" are merely tiny ferro rods.

On the other hand, I have soaked a Bic, a ferro and a chunk of fatwood in a bucket of water for three weeks.
Lit right up, no problem. Not many other ignition methods will do that for us!

The moral of the story is:
It pays to keep all of our ferrocerium protected from moisture. Especially during storage.
« Last Edit: January 21, 2021, 12:25:12 PM by duxdawg »

Offline wsdstan

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Re: why bic lighters are a bad idea for survival
« Reply #15 on: January 21, 2021, 05:09:22 PM »
I have never had a problem with a Bic, a BBQ lighter, a ferro rod, or matches.  Of course in all cases I ain't stranded somewhere with no way to get out.  Thanks for the You tube videos but since they ramped up the commercials to obscene levels I don't go there much.

If we get some sun sometime I am going to try the tinder box magnifying lens I got a week ago starting a fire.  It might be fun to see how it does.
A man who carries a cat by the tail learns  something he can learn in no other way. 
(Mark Twain)