Fire Tubes, my straw survival hack is back by popular demand with upgrades. Yes, compartments! After rigorous testing and many cold beers I have a solution for those wanting compartments. These little plastic guys will keep your tinder (and anything else that will fit) dry when you are outdoors.
Step 1: Begin
I will take you through the build, which is the original Fire Tube I posted here. And then where I added the compartment steps.
Step 2: Items Needed
-Straws (Not all straws are created equal)*
-Poking stick (skewer that fits inside straw)
If not matches, just what ever you want to put in there.
*A Word About Straws
Not all straws work for this hack. I prefer clear straws so that I can easily see what is inside. But many clear straws are small in diameter and thin plastic. I have had better luck with thicker, opaque straws. One of my favorite is the McStraw from that place with a big yellow M. Its thick and seals very well.
Step 3: Sealing the ends
1. With your pliers hold the end of the straw where you will create your first seal.
Leave a little straw hanging out so you have enough plastic to melt. As heat is applied, the overhanging straw will melt back to the pliers where it will stop.
2. Allow to cool. This end should now be sealed. You can check your seal by placing the sealed end into a glass of water and blowing into the open end.
Step 4: Making and Adding Tinder
I like to use cotton balls with a light coat of petroleum jelly. But there are other options, just use a cotton ball, or even dryer lint. Both are great tinder.
1. Coat the cotton ball lightly with petroleum jelly, you don’t want to glob this on.
2. Then use your poking stick to push the cotton ball to the sealed end of the straw
Step 5: Add Matches and Final Seal
I like to use strike anywhere matches. Sometimes I will add sandpaper strips or small slivers of the striking pad from matchbooks. That’s your call.
1. Add matches, heads away from cotton ball. *If using strike anywhere matches, you can alternate matches heads to that they don’t rub together. I have not had them ignite, but it is possible. (See Step 9: User Comment and Design Suggestions)
Note: Many comments on the Fire Tube was concerning the petroleum jelly soaking the matches. I have not had this problem. Even if it did slightly absorb into the matchstick, the head would light and still burn the stick. However, there is a solution.
2. If you want to make a compartment, move on to the next step. Otherwise….
3. Cut the straw to length, and repeat the sealing technique as before on the open end.
Step 6: Compartment #1
For this compartment, you will be melting a seam between your two items.
1. Using your lighter, heat up your pliers. I find that 20s is pretty good, depends on your tool.
Caution: Too hot and you can cause the plastic to melt too much creating tiny holes in your compartments.
2. Simply crimp the straw where you want the compartment, hold let the plastic melt and then cool before releasing. I find pliers with teeth are best because is creates a better seal due to the teeth creating grooves.
3. Add matches and seal other end as previously stated.
*Note: I have not been able to create an air-tight seal between each compartment, but it works to keep most things separated.
Step 7: Compartment #2
For this compartment, I’m not concerned about waterproofing each compartment from each other, but simply to separate.
1. Before your final seal, simply place another wad of cotton to create a separator. Don’t allow the cotton separator to touch the petroleum cotton ball. This will prevent any moisture to transfer.
Note: A cotton ball separator is quite effective. I previously worked in a lab where we would half fill test tubes with water and cap off with a cotton ball. We would lay them on their side, and to my surprise, it didn’t leak. The compacted cotton ball keep the water from leaking out.
2. Add your matches and seal open end as stated before.
Step 8: And there you have it!
Now if you want to separate many items go for!
Use these for everything. Pictured I have:
-Fire tube with compartment
Hope you enjoyed, and get outdoors!
Step 9: User Comments and Design Suggestions
First, thanks for the support and comments. You are what makes this community great!
Ok, so with so many comments I am adding this so that I can answer and address many questions at once.
Folding to make compartment:
Thanks to users: hnaraghi and WiliiamB14
Yes you can simply fold the straw, or put two equal lengths together and melt to make compartments. This design though may cause the straws to be compressed, as you can see from the images. Maybe this would work better with a different straw. Great suggestions. My personal preference is separates.
Strike anywhere matches ignition:
Thanks to users: ElectroFrank, Algag, J3DImindTRIP, anode505, mgalyean, and wobbler
The concern was placing the head of two strike anywhere matches together. In my personal experience with this method, I have had no problem. However, being a scientist, I had to test it.
I rubbed the matches inside the tube twisting the base. I forced the match heads together in quick twists. Nothing. I did this for about 3 minutes. But I kept going. I noticed that the heads were wearing and created a fine powder from all the friction. After about 1 minute of this power forming, the matches ignited. (See photo) They did not burn but simple ignited and went out. I suspect the power was the key here.
So is it possible they can ignite? YES! However, Is it probable? I’m going to say no. The amount of friction and twisting to get that was kinda crazy. If that was happening in your pocket, you just went through the worst ride of your life and are probably dead. However, let it be known, use at your own risk.