Yesterday I was down at Disaster Stuff, a local preparedness supplier located in Roseville, California and saw an interesting new item. A solar lighter, now this was designed to be a cigarette lighter and I was amazed at how quick it would light one. But not being a smoker, this aspect did not interest me, so I started thinking about what other uses I could put it to.
I figured if it could light cigarettes it could be used to light other things. So I played with the solar lighter in my backyard. Now as with any solar device, it is easy to expect more than they are capable off. This is not like using a Bic. It will start a fire with dried grass, leaves or paper. But notice, I said dried, if the fuel is damp it will be harder.
With some tissue paper, you got a quick fire, but notebook paper took longer. Now just because you put some dried grass in there don’t expect an immediate fire. It reminded me of working with the embers created by a bow and drill. You have to blow on them and do a little bit of coaching to get the fuel to burst into flame. Now I haven’t played with this for more than a few minutes and I would be able to start a fire with it. With time, practice and a bit of experimenting with local fuels, I would be confident that I could get a fire started on a bright sunny day regardless of the air temperature.
This would also double as a signal mirror in a survival kit. The dish is made of plastic and is approximately 4 inches in diameter; the weight is just under an ounce. If you put one in your pack, it won’t add much weight. If you are home schooling or teaching classes on solar this could be a great teaching aid.
You can see the solar lighter at Disaster Stuff where it sells for $7.99 including shipping.