Lighting My Stove

4:50 p.m. on January 5, 2009 (EST)
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19 forum posts

I generally use a Jetboil for moderate weather backpacking, and because the stove uses compressed gas, I can light it via the built in piezo lighter. In cold weather, I use a liquid gas stove (Optimus Nova+), and I have never found a great way of lighting it. I sometimes use matches, but these are difficult in the wind or if the striking pad gets wet. I have also used a lighter, but this failed me last time when the temp was -10 F and I got some snow in the lighter.

How do others light their liquid fuel stoves? Any technique suggestions?

Thanks so much,


5:52 p.m. on January 5, 2009 (EST)
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Hi cparekh,

Well, I can only tell you how I do it, most of my camping is above 10 F though.

I have a MSR Whisperlite, the kind where you let a little fuel into a priming cup below the burner and light the fuel to pre-heat the evaporator tube.

I just let the fuel in the cup and stick a stick in the fuel for a couple seconds, remove & and light the stick with a wind proof lighter, then touch it back to the priming cup.
When the wind is really kicking I use something to block the wind, like pile up some rocks or get behind a log.
I know some people build a windbreak out of snow.

I'm sure some of the cold weather guys around here can help you out.

11:07 p.m. on January 5, 2009 (EST)
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REI sells matches that are made like a sparkler-they burn until the coating is completely used up-you can't blow them out. Even sticking them in snow doesn't seem to do much.

I've used them to light my Nova and they work fine. They are not cheap, but they are about the most reliable I have found.

There are some funny reviews on the REI site. People complained that they couldn't light them using the striker on the box after soaking the box in water. Someone else complained that they couldn't light a fire with one. No idea what they were trying to prove. There are limits to everything.

6:12 a.m. on January 6, 2009 (EST)
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35 forum posts

Ultimate Survival BlastMatch/WetFire, anyone?

9:26 a.m. on January 6, 2009 (EST)
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I have a trusty Zippo that has never let me down. I usually use the windscreen fro my Whisperlite International.

2:21 p.m. on January 6, 2009 (EST)
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Thanks for the great suggestions. I often take the white gas stove when I have to fly places, so the REI never-go-out matches are not allowed. Liquid-filled Zippos are allowed to be carried on, so I'll probably go that way.

4:28 a.m. on January 7, 2009 (EST)
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Sorry I'm late! You might also want to try a Swedish Firesteel. They put out a huge shower of 2000 degree sparks, and is what I use if my lighter or matches are too far away. (more than arm length) I always have my firesteel attached to me when I'm hiking or camping. I don't think i can remember a time where it took more than one strike to light my stoves. (Coleman Feather 400 or my Primus Gravity)

4:43 p.m. on February 26, 2009 (EST)
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Propane/Butane mixtures don't gasify below 31 degrees F. This is why a liquid gas stove is used in colder temperatures. The butane lighter won't light when it gets that cold, but you could put it in your pocket to keep it warm and it will light. I carry both matches (waterproofed) and a lighter that way you have the convenience of one, yet the other as backup. You can waterproof your own matches by either dipping them in wax or polishing them with nail polish.

5:17 p.m. on February 26, 2009 (EST)
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"Propane/Butane mixtures don't gasify below 31 degrees F." Not exactly true. There are lot of discussions on this on the net. Depends on where you are for one thing-altitude makes a difference. It also depends on the ratio of propane to butane.

I've used a canister stove in the mid 20's F at 7200 ft. with no problem.

6:37 p.m. on February 26, 2009 (EST)
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I have a primus omnifuel, and I ordered the Primus model flint and steel (mainly because it was cheaper than the "swedish firesteel", and I knew that if primus made it, the quality would be good). I've used it more than once, and it works well. The last time I used it was in a mix of rain and sleet.

10:10 p.m. on February 26, 2009 (EST)
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I always use a Swedish firesteel on all my stoves - canister, liquid fuel (Nova), alcohol, hot summer conditions to snow camping. It works just fine. I haven't used matches in the back country in years.

1:31 p.m. on February 27, 2009 (EST)
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440 forum posts

I usually simply regale all nearby with grand stories of dizzying alpine traverses, arm-wrestling grizzlies, dancing with mountain goats on razor-thin ledges, ten-pound trout on 7X tippet, that sort of thing. The ensuing lightning strike, presumably meant to remind me of my true place in things, is usually enough to get the stove started.

7:43 p.m. on March 17, 2009 (EDT)
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14 forum posts

I use an Ozark Trail lantern lighter from WalMart. Without its bracket , its L-shaped with the short part holding a flint (Zippo lighter type) and at the end of the long end a twist knob. Just give the knob a quick hard twist to produce a fair size spark and very accurately at that. Coleman markets a virtually identical one but the striker wheel is ever so slightly thinner...doesn't produce a spark quite as large as the WM one. Nice that it keeps your fingers a little further away from burner heads or priming cups/pads. I use it on all my stoves...the NOVA, Snow Peak gas canister and Trangia ministove.

The other thing I use in warmer weather is the piezo igniter taken off my Snow Peak gas canister stove...that also moves my fingers away abit from igniting flames.


8:41 p.m. on March 23, 2009 (EDT)
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Wind/water proof matches or fire steel. Both very reliable.

3:21 p.m. on March 28, 2009 (EDT)
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I normally use a regular bic lighter. When I get to camp, I pull the lighter out of my pack and put it in the closest pocket to my body to start warming up. By the time I get the tent pitched and the stove set up the lighter is good to go. Worked down to -37 so far. The colder it gets, the less time you have between when the lighter comes out of you’re pocket and when it won’t light anymore. I imagine a Zippo style would work well in the cold though. If it's windy, the Rei "storm proof" matches are the way to go. There are other wind/ waterproof matches on the market that I've found to work well, but the Rei brand is the best I've tried so far. Now if only they could combined strike anywhere into the equation!

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