On my recent Camping trip I brought along the Tinder Hot Box Solar Fire Starter that was provided by campingsurvival.com.
Upon arrival the quality of the construction definitely impressed me. This appears to be roughly the size of a can of dip or a hockey puck and has a knurled edge. This knurling should allow for it to be easy to use or open in the rain, or extreme cold with or without gloves.
The Solar Fire Starter comes in a thick plastic sleeve with instructions and the image to the left shows the packaging pretty well. The instructions are basically open, assemble, and point at the sun. This device is simple to operate and looks to be well engineered for the task.
After opening the plastic bag the knurling is the first thing that is noticeable, it is very well engraved into the sides of the tinderbox. There is a small seam running along the edge that is where the box splits open. I at first thought it was screwed on but twisting the two halves it was evident that it was a pressure fit. I separated the two pieces and there was a slight suction as the two pieces came apart. There is a rubber o-ring on the parabolic mirror section and I saw a small hole on the lip of the “lid” that allowed air to enter or escape during opening and closing.
Inside, the mirror portion has a slight oil coat on it and the o-ring as well. I tried not to touch it as I think this is either a protective coating or used to enhance the reflection of the sun off of the polished aluminum. Either way I didn’t want to rub any of it off of the device. Attached to a point on the lid is the stand for the tinder that attaches to the mirror and there is an attachment point on the mirror side for the stand to attach to.
Attaching the stand to the mirror side is incredibly easy and the stand is deigned to put the tinder at the mirror’s focal point. this makes use incredibly easy and almost foolproof. Once assembled the device resembles a satellite dish and it is pretty difficult to not immediately understand the principle behind it’s use. Assemble, point at sun, enjoy fire.
I placed some tinder in the holder and held it roughly at arms length and aligned the angle with that of the sun. Just like burning things with a magnifying glass, the mirror reflects light into a small point and it is the focus of this light that creates the heat that initiates the burn. The spot of light is easy to line up with on the tinder and i found it easier to use while holding it in front of me looking down at the tinder. I tried several different tinder pieces and some were more successful than others but they all took to smoking within seconds.
I would highly recommend this product as a means of starting a fire with only some minor exceptions. It should go without saying that this device requires the sun to function, if you are trying to start a fire at night this will not be of any use. The only thing that you could do with this without the sun is to use it to store tinder or maybe some charcloth.
I did test this device on a sunny day so I cannot attest to the usefulness of it during an overcast or rainy day but I would have to guess that it would be limited. Additionally the kindling needs to be of a dark material. I tested some different kinds of material and the darker material worked better. The energy from the light that is being focused was more easily absorbed by the darker material and the light colored material was reflecting that energy instead of absorbing it and turning it to heat.
I can see this product being useful for starting a fire during the day. This box is solidly made and while the manufacturer doesn’t make this claim, I feel that it would be hard to destroy it. It is large enough to find easily in a pack and light enough to not be a burden. If I had no other way to start a fire I feel that this would definitely be worth carrying with me.
Thanks again to CampingSurvival.com for providing the tinder Hot Box Solar Fire Starter for me to review. there is a more in depth use video showing the different conditions and materials that work best being filmed currently. Stay tuned to this blog for more details and be sure to subscribe for future updates. Be sure to check out CampingSurvival.com and let them know you saw the review at OutOfTheBoxSurvival.com.