Friday, May 1, 2015


IN FIRECRAFT, ONE OF the most important component to successfully accomplish a fire is the tinder.  In the old days, nature provided man his tinder.  In modern times, natural fire tinder is still used alongside man-made tinder although the value of the natural materials have not diminished by use in recent times.  In fact, every Philippine Independence Bushcraft Camp these are discussed, used and encouraged.

When speaking of fire tinder, these are the very materials by which it would catch sparks from a ferro rod or sawdust embers from a friction device.  These are the medium that would receive heat and convert it into a flame through a natural chemical reaction.  By the very nature of fire tinder, these are extremely dry down-like material, very light and you would take a day to fill up a small container if you happen to collect the tiniest.

There are many kinds of natural fire tinder and these vary by regions.  Here in the Philippines, which is a tropical country, there is a wide variety to choose from amongst the thousands of plant specie growing densely inside of a square kilometer of jungle.  I have tried some and all are good.

One the best tinder I have tried and used is the soft downy fluff from the dried fruit of a kapok tree (sp. Ceiba pentandra).  The tree and its cotton-like product are locally known  in the Cebuano dialect as “dol-dol”.  The tree is very common and grows everywhere.  It grows straight to about forty feet with branches unfolding horizontally from the trunk starting halfway to the top.

The upper trunk and branches are green-colored while each leaf petiole hosts seven leaves.  The fruit looks like an avocado when it is still green and drops to the ground when it matures and turns brown.  The dry downy material is collected from the matured fruit and becomes an alternative to cotton as a stuffing for pillows and Teddy bears.

The good thing about the kapok is it is already very dry when you open the matured fruit as it is enclosed inside by its rain-repellent skin and quite protected from moisture.  It has natural oil and would easily catch the sparks from a scratched ferro rod or from a small flame.  Moreover, it consumes itself rapidly during a combustion process.

It could be easily stored as it can be pressed into a tight ball like cotton but you should remove the seeds first.  It is shiny light tan in appearance and it is lighter in density than cotton and very silky when rubbed with thumb and finger.     

The tree is associated with supernatural beliefs which the oldsters used to scare the young ones and the children give it a wide berth.  The tree can be used as material for light housing needs like construction of cabinets, furniture and decoratives.  It is also a good source for firewood.  

One funny story I heard about the kapok tree is when a local fisherman in Badian, Cebu decides to choose and carve a boat hull from its trunk.  After he was done with the construction of his boat, he took it to sea.   He was sailing smoothly for an hour in calm waters.  He took it further to more open sea and encountered the first waves.  His boat did not last after a few poundings.  It broke in two.         

Document done in LibreOffice 3.3 Writer

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