The challenge: Burn a mess season’s worth of fallen tree limbs in a backyard that has been drenched by one of the coldest, wettest Aprils on record.
The tools: One paper grocery bag and a box of the new 5-Minute Cricket Firestarters
Like most dads, I like to consider myself an expert at starting fires. Start off with easy-to-light tinder, add thin dry sticks and twigs. From there you build it up, starting with the smallest material first, finishing with the largest of your logs. Of course you will want to make room for air with either the log cabin or a pyramid shaped pile of wood.
But even when you know what you’re doing, it’s not always easy to get a fire started, especially in the backyard after a month of rain and snow. The ground is wet; the wood is wet; and even the damp air seems against you. This was the situation last week when I headed outside to begin some spring yard work. Even with a paper grocery bag as tinder, I’ve gone through a half dozen matches before I can get a fire to catch. Either they get snuffed by a gust of wind, or smothered by the cold damp, or they light just fine, but then go out 30 seconds later.
This time out, I was kind of excited to be testing a new product: the 5-Minute Cricket Firestarter. Originally from Sweden, these handy “matches” have recently been introduced to the American market. Like wooden matches, they come in a cardboard box with a strike strip along the side. Like matches, you pull one out and strike it on the box to light it. But that’s where the similarities end. The Cricket Firestarter is much thicker than a match, with a larger head, and once it’s burning it doesn’t stop for five minutes. It’s a match and tinder all in one.
With crumpled paper for my base, I lit a Cricket and dropped it into a fold of the bag. With ordinary matches, this would have smothered the flame and I would have to light another. The Cricket just burned, and burned, and burned.
Couple things to note for parents: The thick firestarters are great for smaller hands. A kid can grab base in a tiny fist and strike away. If you are teaching your kids how to light a campfire, this will make it easier. They’ll also feel pretty successful right off the bat. And for those very same reasons, it’s sound advice to keep them out of reach of little hands. If they drop a lit match at home, there’s a good chance it will go right out. Drop a lit Cricket and you’re going to have a problem. (This reminds me that I need to follow up with my kids about fire safety, and this summer should be the year to start teaching them how to handle flames responsibly.)
Frankly, I like the idea of involving kids in the whole outdoorsy-build-a-campfire project, but the best thing I like about these 5-Minute Cricket Firestarters is that they help me maintain my cred as the “expert firestarter.” I am pretty sure much of my dad rep will erode as the kids get older, but hopefully I can keep this bit going a little longer.
(The firestarters will be available a retailers soon. When you look for these at your local grocery store ofrcamping outlet, look for the box with the cricket!)