Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Orange Peels as tinder, Part 2

Today in the News: 31!  WE'VE HIT 31!  Thanks to all the folks that have hit the "follow" button in the upper left hand corner.  This blog as far exceeded anything I had hoped for.  Keep on the keepin' on, folks.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.  To bmatt, Bernard Ten Bears, The Wandering Thinker, sticks65, Le Loup and everyone else who has helped out or been encouraging over the past few months, my most very humble thanks.

Our link of the day is included in this post.

Orange Peels, Part 2

So last week I posted a video of the orange peels I put in the fire.

I crushed the peels into a rough powder with my pestal and mortar. Today, I'm going to try using the powder I've made as a tinder.  I'm not sure if this will work or not.

Method #1 - Lighting it with a fire steel.  I'm not using the magnsium, just the sparker.  I have started fires with this device before and it wasn't as easy as I thought it would be. It is a matter of practice and method.  Most days that I tried it were windy - that presented a challenge.

While the crushed up peels did catch fire, it was short lived and not intense like it was in the stove.  I put it in my least favorite cast iron pan because the fire danger around here is still high - and kept a pot of water close by.

I put a little straw underneath the pile and the straw caught fire, but the oranges did not.


Method #2 - The Good ol' Fashion Cigarete Lighter - Again, failure. 

While it didn't light up like I hoped it would, it did create a good coal.  Not only that, the coal was sticky and held together.

The bottom line with the peels is that as a whole, they ignite well. I thought perhaps by crushing them up, they'd act a bit like magnesium and light easily. I was wrong.  My thought is that when I dry the peels out and throw them in the fireplace, they still have the vains of the peel intact.  In those vains, I believe, is some sort of citric acid, which I'm supposing to flammible when dry.  By crushing this vains, perhaps I realeased whatever it is that ignites so well.

So, I feel that an orange still has a place in bushcraft. To bring one along for lunch isn't much trouble and, if you're travelling a few days, drying the peel out by the fire and using for kindling the next day isn't a bad idea.  I feel like I've failed in this experiment, but I guess it isn't failure - someone had to try it to know it didn't work that well.  And that someone was me.

Pax Domini Sit Semper Vobiscum,

Mike, Oscar, Hotel........out.


  1. Well Bro it a good blog you keep,I may not comment much but I do very much enjoy reading your and your guests posts.

    Keep up the good work and a happy Christmas to you.

  2. It was a good experiment just the same. Perhaps we can read of more experiments like these done with plant fibres in the woods?
    All the best for xmas.
    Regards, Le Loup.

  3. I am 13 and I was messing around in my kitchen and I saw our lighter so I picked it up saw a orange peel in the garbage and I picked it up to. I started burning the outside of the orange with the lighter. The orange sparked but did not ignite. In your video it showed that the orange peel was dried I think that is why it ignited. My orange peel was fresh the orange it came from had been peeled 10 minutes previous. I think the reason your orange ignited and mine sparked was because your peel was dried and mine was fresh. I would really like you to test it and see. I hope you can find out.

  4. Hi Luke,

    First off as a precautionary note, I suggest you test it around and adult. :) I know you didn't want to hear that, but I have to say it. I'm a parent. Second off, you're right. The peel is far too moist to light directly after peeling. The "acid" or juice is, in spray form, slightly flammable. As full on juice squeezed out of the orange, I don't think it is flamable at all. Too much water. I hope you keep following the blog. My nephew, LJ is about your age and he has been helping me out with some of my experiments. Learning bushcraft skills will bring you far in life. Be careful and don't play with fire. I hear it makes people wet the bed. ;)