Guest Post: Good Cheap and Easy Gear

by Guy W. Spotts

In 1982, I had the great discomfort to visited Hawaii for a hurricane, I survived very well because of the loose TSA rules of the times.  But because of  today’s TSA rules we can’t carry anything that might be useful right ?   Wrong, one thing to remember checked bags do get x-rayed but there are few prohibited items that you can not carry in a suit case in the hold of an aircraft.  In 1982 I carried on a 2” folding knife without incident.  Again in August of 2001 I carried a Leatherman tool.    This proved to be useful for cutting fresh fruit, and any number of of food items and aided in the removal of the stupid water saving shower heads that serve to spoil my vacations.   Now days with all the mini led lights most of us carry a flash light but in 1982 these were not available, and the smallest usable flash light was a two C cell Kel-light not as light weight as a mini-mag light.  The truth is I didn’t own a 2 C cell and was to cheap to buy one and I didn‘t like the mini-mag‘s.

Why would I need a flashlight?  I arrived at 3:30 PM by 7:45 PM all power was out There were no flashlights, batteries, candles, there were lots of local fruits and nuts both fresh and dried.  So I spent the night in Hawaii without lights, the next mourning, I had to make my way down to the street in a dark stairwell.  Because of the daytime heat I made my way down to the street at the crack of dawn.    Some of the restaurants did open so there was food and water.  I made up my mind I would have light tonight.  I needed some kind of self contained fuel and a wick to make a candle.   Alcohol was out it was a poor light source I needed some type petroleum or vegetable oil to get a brighter yellow flame.  But this also needed to be spill resistant so a liquid was not the preferred material to use.   Then I remembered my time in Scouts in the 1960’s one issue of “Boys Life” had an idea for a emergency lamp and heat source for an igloo the Eskimos would make a lamp out whale oil in a bone dish or lamp.  But while animal fat or lard would be one option, I needed a single source for a fuel and lamp. I found my needs met at a local drug store the stationary row provided me a ball of cotton string.  The first aid row provided the fuel, a jar of petroleum jelly.   Quickly back at my hotel I braided a wick and used the hotel pen to stuff the wick in to jar of  petroleum jelly.The cost was much cheaper then a flashlight, around the same time I came by a fire starter/solid stove fuel.  The fuel is made of a mixture paraffin wax and sawdust I like to use saw dust that is a mixture of fine and course wood.  It is added to the melted paraffin wax I add the saw dust until the mixture is thickens to a paste that can be pressed in to cardboard tubes.   Once these cool you can cut them in to a chucks with a electric carving knife.  I wrap these in news paper, these can be dipped in melted paraffin wax to keep them dry but this will cause them to stick to one another.  I keep them in a Zip Lock baggy so they won’t melt in your backpack.  To use them pull up a bit of the paper and light it with a match.   The cost is minimum.
1972 & 1973 Paramount High School Wilderness program Thanks “Gene Meyers PHS”
1982 Hurricane Iwa, Hawaii
2001 Boy Scout of America Scout Leadership and Wilderness Skills

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