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Author Topic: How to create a spark to light a campfire using a wick and chemicals without explosion?  (Read 16652 times)

Offline voorheestkd

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I have a chemistry question, and was wondering if anyone on here could help me.  Please understand, that I don't know jack about chemistry, and could use some simple guidance.
--Larry


 

Offline voorheestkd

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I am hosting a weekend camp, and one of the "oh-ah" things I want to be able to do is start our campfire from a distance away...say, 10-15 feet.  I've experimented with the whole "mousetrap, string, wooden kitchen match into tinder and lighter fluid" thing, but it's only about a 50/50 success ratio.  Is there a chemical combination that will start the campfire for me?  Again, I can use a fish-line or something to effect a trigger, to bring 2 chemicals together.  I do NOT want an explosion, I just want to generate enough heat to start the tinder at the bottom of the campfire.  But I need something that will work every time.  Suggestions?
 

Offline science_guy

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if you have access to some pure alkaline metals and some water, then you could get a fizzle going, just be sure not to use too much. Im not too sure if It will ignite nearby tinder though... imagine the reaction when you start a fire with water!
 

Offline lightarrow

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I have a chemistry question, and was wondering if anyone on here could help me.  Please understand, that I don't know jack about chemistry, and could use some simple guidance.
--Larry
There are many ways. One is KMnO4 and pure glicerine. You put one or two drops of glicerine on a small amount of permanganate powder (if you add a drop of acid is better): after some seconds, they will react and burn with a small flame.
 

Offline voorheestkd

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ok, and where do I find these things?  I mean, I remember a science class in highschool where we took some pure sodium (I think), and had it react with water...but I would agree...not sure that would make a flame and ignite firewood.
Now, this idea of glycerine and permanganate powder...how much, and where would I find pure glycerine, and this KMnO4 stuff?  Also, suggestions on how to introduce the glycerine to the powder from a distance of, say, 10-15 feet?  I'm trying to envision this working, and starting the tinder....how long would the "small flame" burn, and is it hot enough to start wood shavings and/or dryer lint?
 

paul.fr

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If you are not sure how to use the chemicals mentioned, i would err on the side of caution and either buy some waterproof matches or a firelighting flint. they are realy cheap.
http://www.worldofcamping.co.uk/shop/Detail.asp?ProductID=1523

lighting a campfire chemically may be fun and amazing, but stick to safe and boring.
 

Offline DoctorBeaver

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Rub a boyscout's legs together  :D
 

Offline lightarrow

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ok, and where do I find these things?  I mean, I remember a science class in highschool where we took some pure sodium (I think), and had it react with water...but I would agree...not sure that would make a flame and ignite firewood.
Now, this idea of glycerine and permanganate powder...how much, and where would I find pure glycerine, and this KMnO4 stuff? 
Glicerine is sold in pharmacies here (Italy). KMnO4 was sold too, in the past (as antiseptic); I'm not sure if they still sell it now, but you can ask them for a few grams (maybe don't ask for glicerine and permanganate in the same store!)
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Also, suggestions on how to introduce the glycerine to the powder from a distance of, say, 10-15 feet? 
Maybe you can wet very well with glicerine a piece of tissue or cotton wool or something alike, fix it to a long stick, and then touch the lump of powdered KMnO4 with the tissue for some seconds. Not more than a few grams of the salt and no more than some drops of glicerine.

Edit: some drops of glicerine as total amount to react with the permanganate lump, not as total amount in the tissue.
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I'm trying to envision this working, and starting the tinder....how long would the "small flame" burn?
It depends on the amount of the two substances. Approximately I'd say from 3 to 10 seconds.
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and is it hot enough to start wood shavings and/or dryer lint?
I sincerely don't know because I've never tried it, but I would bet "yes".
« Last Edit: 25/05/2007 19:13:57 by lightarrow »
 

Offline voorheestkd

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thank you, all.  with only a week to prep, and the only "spare time" I have being when I'm actually asleep, I think I'll putter with a mousetrap, wooden matches, dryer lint and/or cotton balls soaked in petroleum jelly, and a long piece of very fine fishing line, and see what kind of "ooh-ahh" effect I can generate... thank you all, again.
--Larry
 

Offline syhprum

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Rocketeers use a mix of hypoglopic chemicals I believe nitro tetraoxide is one but I don't know the other but I am sure some experts here do.
 

Offline lightarrow

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Rocketeers use a mix of hypoglopic chemicals I believe nitro tetraoxide is one but I don't know the other but I am sure some experts here do.
Do you mean these:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypergolic ?
 

Offline lightarrow

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Another way (used centuries ago for the first kinds of matches) is to mix KClO3 and concentrated H2SO4.
KClO3 is very difficult to find, however.
« Last Edit: 29/09/2007 12:23:24 by lightarrow »
 

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