The Boy Scout Fire Starting Method

Back in the early 60's, as a Boy Scout, I suggested that we concoct a campfire-lighting ceremony wherein we would light the campfire by having a random scout squirt water into the campfire through a tube. We built a little nest of tinder with a butter-pat-sized lump of sodium in the middle. It was near the top of a sizeable collection of wood, arranged so that, once it started, it would fall down into some kindling lower in the fire. It was all supposed to look like magic. And, frankly, it did.

On the evening of the ceremony, with about 200 Scouts surrounding the fire pit, we had a volunteer scout take a swig of water from a canteen, and blow it into the top of the fire through a soda-straw-sized wooden tube.

The fire went up nicely enough, and quite a handful of scouts were initially impressed. The word got around the next day, though, that someone had "seen the wires and batteries" that were "really" used to start the fire.

Roger Diggle
Madison, Wisconsin