How To Use a Magnesium Fire Starter to Make a Campfire

When camping or backpacking, fire is crucial for providing warmth, cooking food, sterilizing water, etc. You need a reliable source for making fire that’s also compact and lightweight. The magnesium fire starter is a tried-and-true tool—and the favorite choice among many outdoor enthusiasts and survivalists.

 

Harbor Freight offers a Magnesium Fire Starter at a fraction of the price compared to the competition. The starter features an integrated full-length flint and striker knife along with an ample block of magnesium. The shavings burn at 5400° so they can ignite combustible materials even when they’re damp.

While the magnesium fire starter is easy to use, it’s definitely a good idea to practice with it so it will be that much easier to get a fire going when you need it.

Here’s a quick tutorial on how to use your magnesium fire starter …

Find an area where you can have a fire, hopefully a spot protected from elements like high wind or rain. Clear the area of dry grass, twigs, etc.

 


Gather up tinder. The best “domestic” tinder would be petroleum jelly-saturated cotton balls stored in a Ziploc bag, newspaper or even a paper napkin. If collecting natural materials, dry moss, pine cones, dry pine needles, tiny twigs, dry grass and thin shreds of wood all make great tinder. Make sure your tinder is as dry as possible. Leaves can work too if they’re really dry.

 


Build your structure. The three go-to designs for a campfire are teepee (far left), log cabin (middle) and lean-to (far right). For this article, we’re using the teepee. Construct a teepee from twigs and small branches, evenly distributing so it can bear additional wood after the fire takes.

 


Once your structure is built, make a bundle out of your tinder that will catch the sparks from the fire starter—positioning the bundle in the “doorway” is best. On top of the tinder bundle, place a dry leaf, an old receipt or something else to contain the magnesium shavings. Keep water nearby in case you need to put the fire out.

Hold the magnesium block down, pointed at the tinder bundle. With the other hand, hold the serrated metal blade that comes with the magnesium fire starter at a 45-degree angle against the block and shave tiny flakes downward onto the bundle. Small shavings work best. Keep going until you have a pile of magnesium shavings on your tinder bundle about the size of a quarter.

 


Using your serrated blade or the backside of a knife, strike a spark to ignite the magnesium on the tinder bundle. Note: instead of sliding the blade down the flint toward the tinder, hold the blade stationary and slide the flint up toward you. This keeps the spark close to the tinder. Keep scraping until a spark lands on the magnesium shavings and ignites them.

When a spark catches the magnesium, the shavings will burn bright, hot and fast. The generated heat will then spread to the tinder, catching it on fire as well. This is a crucial moment. You may have to urge the young flame on by very gently blowing on it to give it additional oxygen. You may also need to adjust the bundle a little here and there it to allow the young fire to spread.

 


As the tinder fire grows, you’ll need to carefully slide the intact bundle into the teepee structure. Use a couple of sticks to push the bundle further in if it’s too hot to handle. You may also need to feed it some more tinder material to keep it stoked.

 


Another crucial moment. Fire needs a proper blend of oxygen, fuel and heat. As the fire grows, blow on it and feed it by gradually adding slightly larger and larger twigs and sticks. Don’t get carried away—give it time. If you drop a big piece of wood onto it too soon, you’ll be back at square one, rummaging for tinder materials. Don’t be that guy or gal …

When you need fire, you really NEED it, so as recommended, practice using your Magnesium Fire Starter prior to your outdoor adventure. For other camping and survival items, be sure to visit your local Harbor Freight Tools store.

Predator Generators: How To Prep, Run and Maintain Them for Years of Service

generator with wheel kit - brand new

You just bought– or are about to buy– your first generator. Good move, it’ll be a valuable asset to you and your family, especially in times of emergency. But, even though it’s got a gas engine and a pull cord, a generator isn’t the same thing as a lawn mower or weed whacker. There are a number of steps involved in the prepping, running and maintaining of your generator that you should be aware of before you try to do anything with it. Here are a few tips to make sure you get a smooth, safe operation, and the power you need:

generator outdoors

  • CRUCIAL– If you take anything away from this post, it’s that you NEVER run your generator in a garage (even an open garage) and NEVER run it in the house. Keep it outside, at least 15 feet from the house, and way away from all windows. As valuable as your generator is to keeping things going, it’s also a carbon monoxide machine. But of course, when used properly, it’s invaluable.

generator manual

  • Before you do anything, read the generator’s manual, from cover to cover. The more you know about your portable gas generator, the more apt you are not to do anything wrong, and it will provide many years of low-maintenance emergency power.

grounding rod

  • Prior to setup, you’ll need to ground the generator. This is done by connecting a #6 AWG grounding wire from the Grounding Terminal to a grounding rod (above) which is at least 24 inches in the ground. The grounding rod must be an earth-driven copper or brass rod that can adequately ground the generator. The grounding wire and rod may not be included with the generator, so make sure you get those as well when you make your purchase.
  • A great feature that some gas generators have is an electric start, because they can make starts fast and effortless. If yours has an electric start, now’s the time to make sure the 12v battery is installed and connected.

generator oil fill

  • Next you need to add the fluids. A key to a generators long life– as with any engine– is oil. It’s also helpful to know that without oil, the generator won’t start. Check the manual and make sure you’re using the right oil type and changing it according to manufacturer’s specifications. SAE10W30 is often recommended for general-purpose, all-temperature use.

generator gas fill

  • Add fuel to within 1″ of the rim of the tank. Be careful never to overfill. Unless otherwise instructed, use regular Unleaded 87 Octane gasoline.

generator startup

  • Now you’re ready to start the generator. Note the slight difference in the above chart between the Manual Start and the Electric Start.
  • Let the gennie run briefly before you plug anything into it, and make sure when you do plug something in, that the appliance is off. Plug in appliances one at a time, and power each one up before you plug in the next one. You want to make sure you’ve got the power to accommodate them. Pay attention to the watts of each unit before you plug it in after the other; you want to always stay under the generator’s max. If the generator overloads, it could damage the appliances.
  • Now you’re ready to rock n’ roll!

Other tips to keep in mind…

  • Never connect your generator with a power cord into an electrical outlet in the house. This power will “back feed” into the utility lines running to your house, and in the event of a blackout, this could kill a utility crew member called to restore power to the neighborhood.
  • Only use  a proper power cord. The power provided by your gas generator is measured in watts. A power cord is measured in amps. If, for whatever reason, you need a replacement power cord, choose one that matches the most powerful outlet on your generator. The power cord would need to be heavy-duty, at least 12 gauge, and less than 100 feet.
  • Never refuel a running generator– or even one with a still-hot engine! The heat could ignite the gas. Shut it off and let it cool for at least 10 minutes. And only refuel in a well-ventilated area.
  • Change the oil during lengthy outages. Check your manual for the proper intervals. If your generator doesn’t have an hour meter (telling you how long it’s been running), keep a log so you don’t lose track.
  • Conserve your gas! If the neighborhood power went out, chances are local gas stations are also down. Only use whatever appliances you need to and, if possible, turn it off overnight. A refrigerator can handle no power for 3-4 hours.

When you’re done

  • When the power comes back, drain the gas from the generator. If you leave the gas in, it can ruin the carburetor.
  • Change the oil one last time.
  • Every month, feed the generator a 1/2 gallon of gas and run it for at least 30 minutes. This will prevent blockage in the carb.

Your portable gas generator will be ready for the next emergency, and will last for years!

When you’re ready to purchase your generator, but need help determining what size to get, here’s a GENERATOR BUYING GUIDE to help you out. And don’t make any decisions until you’ve had the chance to look at the award-winning Predator Generators at Harbor Freight Tools! Read the reviews and research the YouTube videos, and you’ll learn for yourself what a great value they really are.

Hyperbole aside, in the event of an emergency, having a portable gas generator can mean the difference between life and death for you and/or a member of your family.

Badland 12000-lb Winch Review, Installation, Preparation and Safety

12k WINCH OFF ROAD PIC

Wheelin’, muddin’, off-roading, jeeping, four-wheeling. It’s a favorite pastime here in the States, and why not? It’s a heckuva lot of fun and a thrill to explore and experience the rougher side of nature. So, if you’ve got a 4×4, it’s only natural you want a winch. You could very well be boldly going where no man has gone before– and for good reason!– and you’ll need an escape plan.

12K winch on ford

Winches are awesome, powerful mechanisms, but mis-mounted or misused, they can be extremely dangerous. Before you even purchase your off-road winch, you should know how it works, its limitations and how it runs. YouTuber “ghostses” offers an extremely well-covered video on the Badland 12000-lb. Capacity with Auto-Loading Brake (voted “Best Deal in Winching” by Off-Road magazine), and if you walk away uninformed after this, I don’t know what to tell ya.

Some highlights include:

1. Why he went with the 12000-lb. model (00:01:25)

2. Cable layers and winch strength (00:02:25)

3. The components, what they’re for and the manual (00:06:20)

4. The parts of the main winch and motor (00:14:18)

5. Component assembly and installation (00:35:09)

6. Pre-stretching the cable (00:46:10)

7. Other rigging and accessories (00:48:16)

8. Wicked cool demonstrations (00:57:18)

There are a number of extremely important safety tips and pointers throughout this video, so if it’s too long for you, I advise to take it in in “chapters.” Believe me, it’s well worth your while.

There is also a segment where the reviewer opens the housing to re-lube it. THIS WILL VOID THE WARRANTY. As it states in the manual, “The winch’s internal mechanism is permanently lubricated. Do not open the housing.”

Most importantly, of course, go to the Harbor Freight website and read the countless other customer reviews on the Badland 12K winch. You’ll see for yourself why it’s a favorite among off-roaders!

61256_B_040814_PRINT

 

 

33 Awesome DIY Christmas Gift Ideas

merry christmas DIY

Buying any well-thought item from a store will certainly make guy or gal’s Christmas, but nothing says “wow” like the gift someone makes for you. For some reason, knowing they spent their time crafting something just for you is especially awesome. Plus, if you’re comfortable working with your hands, the homemade gifts can be made very inexpensively and help you cross several names off your list with just one project.

Over the years we’ve written a number of DIY project articles for the purpose of making something for yourself. This time we’re going to take a moment and share some DIY activities you’ll enjoy both making AND giving. Some of them are really easy take little time and are inexpensive to make. Others might challenge your skill set a bit more, as well as your budget. Whatever the case, you’re sure to find one that fits your comfort level.

Recently, the Art of Manliness came out with “33 DIY Gift Ideas For Men,” a compilation of several previous articles that they thought would make a great gift guide. We at Harbor Freight agree, but we’re pretty sure there are some craft-minded women who would also find this interesting, fun and contain at least a few great ideas for the significants in their lives.

field phone

If your hobby is electronics, how’d you like to turn a WWII field phone into a Bluetooth phone?

diy dining table

Or if woodworking is your thing, how about this rustic heirloom-quality dining room table?

altoid tins flavored toothpicks

Or if you’re looking to take care of a bunch of folks in one fell swoop, they offer 22 Altoid can kit ideas or custom-flavored toothpicks!

Those are just a few of the wide-ranging ideas The Art of Manliness offers in its comprehensive DIY Christmas Gift Ideas post. You’re sure to find at least a few that fit your skill set, timetable and budget. If I could anything myself, it would be to choose a project that will be fun and rewarding for you. After all, it’s Christmas, and where’s the joy in a project that’s gonna make you stress n’ sweat? And when you find you need a certain tool or supply to make it happen, swing by Harbor Freight Tools for quality, cost-conscious garage gear.

How Tough is the Storm Cat 900/700 Watt Generator?

What’s the best way to test a product you’re considering to buy? Why, throw it in the deep end, of course (that’s how Dad taught me). Throw everything at it, challenge the HECK out of it– which is exactly what redneckcomputergeak did to the Storm Cat 900 Peak/700 Running Watts, 2-HP (63cc) 2-Cycle Gas Generator (EPA/CARB) from Harbor Freight in a strenuous 16-minute video review. The Storm Cat may be the runt of the Harbor Freight generator litter, but this little dynamo (38 lb.) delivers the robust, reliable power you need when you need it.

900 watt generator testing

Referred to as a “recreational” generator, the Storm Cat is the perfect companion for camping, hunting, tailgating, family reunions, ice fishing, treehouse building, emergency preparedness and countless remote activities where there’s no power’s around. To further illustrate its abilities, though, redneckcomputergeak took it to task “at the job site” with a grinder, impact driver, chop saw (with a 60 hz motor), cement mixer and welder. Now, I’m not going to spoil it for you, but I will say if you’re in the market for a small portable generator, and you’re reading this now, it’ll be well worth your while to spend a few minutes more and watch the video.

Chances are, seeing what the Storm Cat is capable of– not to mention the low price!– gives you a few ideas on what you could use it for. And if you’re looking for more wattage to power, say, an RV, appliances or multiple large power tools, check out Harbor Freight’s selection of other gas-powered portable generators, all with great quality and prices.

How To Prep, Run & Maintain Your Portable Generator

generator with wheel kit - brand new

You just bought– or are about to buy– your first generator. That’s great, it’ll be a valuable asset to you and your family, especially in times of emergency. But even though it’s got a gas engine and a pull cord, a generator isn’t the same thing as a lawn mower or weed whacker. There are a number of steps in the process of prepping, running and maintaining your gas generator that you should be aware of before you do anything with it. Here are a few tips to make sure you get smooth, safe operation, and the power that you need:

generator outdoors

  • CRUCIAL– If you take anything away from this article, it’s NEVER run your generator in a garage (even an open garage) and NEVER run it in the house. Keep it outside, at least 15 feet from the house, and way away from all windows. As valuable as your generator is to keeping things going, it’s also a carbon monoxide machine.

generator manual

  • Before you do anything, read the generator’s manual, from cover to cover. The more you know about your portable gas generator, the more apt you are not to do anything wrong, and it will provide many years of low-maintenance emergency power.

grounding rod

  • Prior to setup, you need to ground the generator. This is done by connecting a #6 AWG grounding wire from the Grounding Terminal to a grounding rod which is at least 24 inches in the earth. The grounding rod must be an earth-driven copper or brass rod that can adequately ground the generator. The grounding wire and rod may not be included with the generator, so make sure you get those as well when you make your purchase.
  • A premium feature that some gas generators have is an electric start, which makes for fast, effortless starts. If yours has an electric start, now’s the time to make sure the 12v battery is installed and connected.

generator oil fill

  • Now it’s time to add the fluids. A key to long engine life is oil. Also, without oil the generator won’t start. Check the manual and make sure you’re using the right type and changing it according to manufacturer’s specifications. SAE10W30 is often recommended for general-purpose, all-temperature use.

generator gas fill

  • Add fuel to within 1″ of the rim of the tank. Be careful never to overfill. Unless otherwise instructed, use regular Unleaded 87 Octane gasoline.

generator startup

  • Now you’re ready to start the generator. Note the slight difference in the above chart between the Manual Start and the Electric Start.
  • Let your generator run briefly before you plug anything in it, and make sure when you do plug, that the appliance is off. Plug in appliances one at a time, and power each one up before you plug in the next one. You want to make sure you’ve got the power to spare. Pay attention to the watts of each unit before you plug it in after the other; you want to always stay under the generator’s max. If the generator overloads, it could damage the appliances.
  • Now you’re ready to rock n’ roll!

Other tips to keep in mind…

  • Never connect your generator with a power cord into an electrical outlet in the house. This power will “back feed” into the utility lines running to your house, and in the event of a blackout, this could kill a utility crew called in to restore power to your neighborhood.
  • Only use  the proper power cord. The power supplied by your portable gas generator is measured in watts. A power cord is measured in amps. If, for whatever reason, you need a replacement power cord, choose one that matches the most powerful outlet on your generator. The power cord would need to be heavy-duty, at least 12 gauge, and less than 100 feet.
  • Never refuel a running generator, or even one with a still-hot engine. The heat could ignite the gasoline. Shut it off and let it cool for at least 10 minutes. And only refuel in a well-ventilated area.
  • Change the oil during lengthy outages. Check your manual for the proper intervals. If your generator doesn’t have an hour meter (telling you how long it’s been running), keep a log so you don’t lose track.
  • Conserve your gas! If your neighborhood’s power went out, chances are the local gas stations are also in the dark. Only use whatever appliances you need to and, if possible, turn it off overnight. A refrigerator can handle no power for 3-4 hours, and your neighbors will love the break, too.

When you’re done

  • When the power comes back, drain the gas from the generator. If you leave the gas in, it can ruin the carburetor.
  • Change the oil one last time.
  • Every month, feed the generator a 1/2 gallon of gas and run it for at least a 1/2 hour. This will prevent blockage in the carburetor.

Your portable gas generator will be ready for the next emergency, and will last for years!

When you’re ready to purchase your generator, but need help determining what size to get, here’s a GENERATOR BUYING GUIDE to help you out. And don’t make any decisions until you’ve had the chance to look at the award-winning Predator Generators at Harbor Freight Tools! Read the reviews and research the YouTube videos, and you’ll learn for yourself what a great value they really are.

Hyperbole aside, in the event of an emergency, having a portable gas generator can mean the difference between life and death for you and/or a member of your family.

Dutch Oven Mountain Man Breakfast

mountain man breakfast

Every year we go beach camping up and down the California coast with 10-12 other families, and every year our meal assignment has been the Dutch Oven Mountain Man Breakfast. Like Coke and Mentos, and the midnight grunion runs, the Mountain Man Breakfast has become a demanded tradition of us and ours. It’s got all the favorite breakfast foods in one dish: sausage, eggs, cheese, hash browns. Not only is it the most delicious, wonderful mess you’ll ever shovel in your mug, it sends torturous wafts of incredible aroma throughout the campground, causing many a family to look down miserably at their breakfast bars and weep.

So, without further ado, here’s our recipe for the quintessential Dutch Oven Mountain Man breakfast (makes 6-12 servings):

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground pork sausage (mild, medium or hot, it’s up to you)
  • 1 pound bacon (honey cured is sometimes preferred)
  • 1 sweet onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 (2-pound) bag of shredded hash browns
  • 12 extra large eggs, beaten
  • 1 16-oz. bag shredded mild cheddar cheese
  • Add any other spices you might like: salt pepper, butt rub…

dutch oven

Directions

  1. You’ll want to get a campfire going about 90 minutes before you’re ready to eat. Let it burn until it’s accumulated a nice layer of coals.
  2. Add and stir the sausage, bacon, onion and garlic into a 12-Inch Cast Iron Dutch Oven with a lid, with the oven beside–but not directly in– the coals, so you have a nice medium-high heat. Cook and stir until the sausage and bacon are no longer raw and the onion is tender.
  3. Stir in the red and green bell peppers and hash browns until nicely blended. Keep stirring for about 15 minutes, until the potatoes are hot and the peppers are now tender.
  4. Add the beaten eggs evenly over the top of the potatoes, allowing them to sink into the mix, then cover the Dutch oven.
  5. Carefully place  8-10 hot coals under the Dutch oven and 13-15 on top. Allow your concoction to bake around 35-40 minutes, until the eggs are firm.
  6. Carefully remove the lid, keeping the coals on, and sprinkle the cheddar cheese evenly over the eggs. Cover and continue cooking for about 5 more minutes. The cheese should be melted at this point.

Adjust this recipe according to your crowd, of course. There’s nothing wring with having leftovers, though, this chow makes for GREAT leftovers!!

Clean-Up

As any Dutch Oven enthusiast can tell you, there are some “Do NOTs” when is comes to cleaning a Dutch Oven:

  • Do NOT use dish soap or detergent (it can leave a soapy taste in the oven that may transfer to the food).
  • Do NOT use a metal scrapper or scouring pad (it can remove the “hard-earned” seasoning).
  • Do NOT put cold water on a hot Dutch Oven (it can cause the oven to crack).
  • Do NOT “burn out” your Dutch Oven over the fire. (It can warp or crack the oven).

If it’s not convenient to clean the Dutch oven right away, you can pour some hot water in it and let it soak. For BEST RESULTS, though, follow these steps:

  1. With a plastic scraper, scrape out the excess food.
  2. With a little hot water and a dish cloth, wipe up the residual gunk and finish cleaning it out. Then dump out the dirty water and rinse the pan with warm water.
  3. Dry the dutch oven thoroughly with a paper towel, or leave it in close enough proximity to the campfire to dry itself.
  4. When dry, take a clean paper towel and wipe a thin coat of oil all over the Dutch oven, careful to remove any excess so it doesn’t leave a rancid puddle.
  5. Finally, fold another clean paper towel and put it  under the lid and hanging slightly out the side  to absorb any excess oil and moisture and to allow some air into the oven.

Before you even go camping, though, the best thing you could do is season your 12-Inch Cast Iron Dutch Oven  to get long-lasting, top notch performance out of it. You can read about how to season this and your other cast iron pans HERE. Also, you can pick up a Dutch oven at Harbor Freight Tools for a great, low price!

Be sure to check out other recipes you can make in your Dutch oven, like stews, chili, desserts and so much other delicious grub. It may not be pretty sometimes, but it always eats good.

 

How To Use a Magnesium Fire Starter To Make a Campfire

campfire

Here’s some good info everyone should have at their disposal, whether it be for camping or emergency situations. In fact, it’s so stinking easy, you’ll wonder why you never picked it up before.  That strange, cheap little hunk of magnesium and flint steel will save your bacon and pay for itself several times over in just one dire situation.

What’s magnesium, anyway? Magnesium is the seventh most common element in the earth’s crust. During WWII it was used to make fire bombs employed in European missions. It was also a main ingredient for flash powder in early photography. Today, magnesium is still used in fireworks and pyrotechnics. And, of course, fire starters.

magnesium firestarter

Here’s how to use your magnesium fire starter to make a fire:

  • Find an area where you can have a fire, hopefully a spot protected from any present elements like high wind and rain. Clear the area of dry grass, twigs, etc.
  • Gather up the tinder. If you’re a “Be Prepared” type of person, the best tinder would be a ziplock full of petroleum jelly-saturated cotton balls. But, if you just happend to have left those at home, dry moss, pine cones, dry pine needles, tiny twigs, dry grass and thin shreds of wood all make great tinder. Leaves can work too if they’re really dry. Even newspaper, or a paper napkin. Make sure the fuel is as dry and dead as possible.  If the leaf litter is wet from rain or dew, carefully lift the top layers to see if the lower layers are still dry — or check under thick foliage, which may have protected tinder from rain. You may also be able to find dry moss, pine needles or tiny twigs in these protected areas. Hollow logs are good, too. Or, if you’re not having much luck doing that, put the least damp tinder in your pocket for a while and let the heat dry it out. If you see any larger sticks or wood that looks useable, grab that aw well so it’ll be ready when needed.

tinder

  • Build your structure. The three go-to designs for a campfire are Teepee, Log Cabin and Lean-to (or variations of any of the three). For the sake this tutorial, we’ll be using the teepee build. Construct a teepee of twigs and small branches (like the picture below on the left), evenly distributing so it can bear additional wood after the fire takes.

campfire builds

  • Prepare the tinder. Once your structure is built, make a bundle out of your tinder that will catch the sparks from the fire starter. Place it as close to the structure as possible without going all the way in– in the “doorway” is best. On top of the tinder bundle, place a dry leaf or an old receipt to contain the magnesium shavings. In the best of worlds, you’d have some duct tape handy to keep the shavings from blowing away, but the structure and “container” (leaf or receipt) should do the trick.
  • Keep a bucket or other container of water nearby in case, for any reason, you need to put the fire out.

campfire magnesium shavings

  • Hold the magnesium block down, pointed at the tinder bundle. Then with the other hand, hold the serrated metal blade that came with your HF Magnesium Fire Starter at a slight (45º) angle against the block and shave tiny flakes downward onto the bundle. If the fire starter you have didn’t come with a blade, use the backside of a knife. Smaller shavings and pieces work best. Keep going at it until you have a pile of magnesium shavings on your tinder bundle about the size of a quarter.

campfire ignite magnesium

  • Using your serrated blade or backside of a knife, strike a spark to ignite the magnesium on the tinder bundle. But instead of sliding the blade down the flint toward the tinder, hold the blade stationary, down with the tinder bundle, and slide the flint up toward you. This keeps the spark close to the tinder. Keep scraping until a spark lands on the magnesium shaving and ignites it.
  • When a spark catches the magnesium, the shavings will burn bright, hot and fast. The generated heat will then spread to the tinder, catching it on fire as well. This is a crucial moment. You may have to urge the young flame on by very gently blowing on it and giving it additional oxygen. You may also need to adjust it a little here and there it to allow the young fire to spread.

campfire tinder goes in

  • As the tinder fire grows, you’ll need to carefully slide it– in tact–  into the campfire structure. You might want to use a couple of sticks to push the bundle under if it’s too hot to handle. Then, as you prepare for the next phase, maybe feed it some more leaves and grass to keep it stoked.
  • Another crucial moment. Fire needs a proper blend of oxygen, fuel and heat. As your structure starts catching on fire, blow on it and feed it by gradually adding slightly larger and larger twigs and sticks. Don’t get carried away, give it time. If you drop a log on it too soon, you’ll be back to square one, rummaging for dead grass. Don’t be that guy.

campfire successful

  • And while you want to be patient, you also want to keep feeding. Find larger sticks and logs to keep the fire growing and happy for the endurance you need to stay warm, dry and protected.

Practice Using The Magnesium Fire Starter

I’ve already said it before, but I’ll say it again: be prepared. It’s not enough to have your magnesium fire starter, you should be ready in an instant to know how to use it. Whether you’re stranded in the cold and wt woods or the arid, desert wilderness, knowing how to make a fire in a SHTF situation will give you life, comfort and security. So practice at home– when the need isn’t there– until you’ve got it down cold (or hot).

And, one last thing. You might want to rethink taking that baggie of petroleum jelly cotton balls.

 

How to Season Your Cast Iron Pans

cast iron fry pans

For camping and emergency gear, you can never have too many cast iron pans. Some of them come preseasoned, but factory finishes eventually strip. Whether you buy the pans unseasoned or preseasoned, it’s good to know how to season your cast iron pans so they can remain non-stick, easy to clean and stored for long periods of time without threat of rusting. A well-seasoned pan can give you a lifetime of faithful service.

Before you start, if your pan is used, scrub any rust and gunk out of it with fine steel wool. If that doesn’t work, stick it in your self-cleaning oven for the shortest time period and wipe clean. If you don’t have a self-cleaning oven, spray it with oven cleaner, stick it in a plastic bag overnight and wipe clean the next day.

The process of seasoning is pretty simple. First, spread oil or fat on the inside of your pans, not a lot, with a paper towel. There’s some debate as to what kind of coating to put on, particularly when you factor in the non-meat eaters who lobby for vegetable oil.  What we have found, however, is that animal fat does the best job. So you could fry up a big batch of bacon (ooohhh, yeah…) and then leave the grease in there to harden and then spread around. Or, you could just grab some lard.

cast iron pan lard

Set your oven for 450° and spread a sheet of aluminum foil on the lower shelf. Set the greased pan on the upper shelf upside-down, so the foil can catch the excess drips. It would probably be a good idea at this point to open the windows and turn on the exhaust fan, ’cause the place is gonna get smoky  real soon. Bake the pan for 2 hours.

When the time is up, turn off the oven and leave the pan in there, leaving the oven door open a crack. The cast iron pan needs to cool slowly; a sudden change from hot to cool temperature might cause it to crack.

cast iron pans seasoned

The end result should be a nice, even, black finish. You may have to do it a few times in a row to get the desired result.

DO NOT WASH! When the pan has cooled enough to handle, take it out and wipe it down with a kitchen “J-cloth” or sturdy paper towel, making sure it’s dry to prevent rusting. And for future cleaning, don’t scrub it too hard or you’ll ruin the finish– and don’t use soap or detergent! Just hot water and a plastic scrub brush should do the trick.

And that’s it! Over time you’ll want to repeat the seasoning process to keep your pans in prime shape, and you’ll find they cook more evenly and last longer than the other pots and pans.

Harbor Freight has an extremely affordable, quality 3-piece set of Cast Iron Frying Pans #44707, ready to go along on your family trips and excursions! They also have a nice 12″ Cast Iron Dutch Oven #44705 for your camping trip Mountain Man breakfasts, stews and cherry cobblers!

dutch oven tailgate

17 Ways to Make a Shelter from a Tarp

camo tarp

Tarps are lightweight and provide a myriad of functions. However, in a survival situation, a tarp could literally mean the difference between life and death.

American Survival Guide recently published an article in their Dec. ’14 issue entitled A Roof of Polypropylene – 17 Ways to Make a Shelter from a Tarp (click on the title to read the article) As the title implies, the article provides 17 illustrated tarp set-ups with easy-to-follow instructions plus “Tarp Tricks” and “What Not to Dos”. If you spend any time hiking, backpacking or on any other activity that may put you in a survival situation, click on the story link above.

And don’t forget  to check out Harbor Freight’s complete selection of tarps available at all of Harbor Freight’s 500+ stores!