Before heading to the Adirondacks a few years ago, I decided to equip myself with some more extreme survival tools, just in case. The Adirondacks is a huge park and the weather wasn't going to be forgiving to the unprepared. So I bought one of these at a local army surplus and have used it many times since. As you can see in the photo, there's still quite a bit left to use so I won't have to buy more any time soon.
There are great prices online, and I you do, make it worth the shipping costs and buy a few for yourself, your friends and family. It's no wonder Man vs Wild's Bear Grylls took the time to talk about these on his show. You can drop this thing in water, mud, anything and light a fire right away. We all know even waterproof matches can fail when we really need them. These magnesium firestartes will work anywhere anytime, period.
How to use it: On one side we have a small brick of magnesium. This will serve as fuel for the firestarting. Simply scratch off little bits and peices until you have a little pile of shavings around the kindle you're trying to light. Next use the stricker on the oposite side of the brick. The striker is basically a rod of flint that can be scrapped with a knife or other rough edged tool. Be carefull, if you run the blade of your knife, you will dull it so instead try to use the back of it. The flint will then send sparks into the magnesium which will suddenly burn bright and hot very quickly and start up your fire.
How it works: Magnesium is highly explosive and very flammable but only in powdered form. the block itself could be exposed to open flames (I tried burning it with a lighter for about 2 minutes) without any effect. But as soon as one shreds peices of it, it becomes highly flammable. Magnesium can burn underwater, which explains it's ability to work under very bad conditions. The reaction actually becomes stronger when water is involved, which is why large magnesium fires are difficult to extinguish.
This product is a must have on my list and I bring it whenever I travel or go camping. It's fun and easy to use once you get the trick of shredding it the right way. The flint is effective and long-lasting. It's inherent simplicity is by far its strongest feature. When the world stops turning, these fire-starters will keep burning !