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Last update 02/17/2009

Propane Fire Starter

I ain't no boy scout!  I don't even play one on TV.  Therefore when I need to start a fire, I cheat :=)  On this page I document my very simple propane fire starter that can be constructed from stuff one has around the house.

The Starter consists of a length of black iron pipe with holes drilled in the sides, one end capped and the other attached to a rubber hose.  The other end of the rubber hose attaches to the valve body of a common ordinary propane torch from which the burner and orifice have been removed.

This unit is easily disassembled into two pieces for compact storage in an RV.  I carry one in my rig at all times.

Be sure to REFRESH each page on this site as I'm adding content on a daily basis.

fires lit since 05/22/07

Here is the complete assembly.  The propane tank, the propane torch valve, the rubber power brake vacuum hose and the fire starter itself.  
This is the side of the tube.  Approx 1/8" holes (not critical at all) are drilled about every inch and a half.  These are drilled through so that there are identical holes on the other side.  
The end cap.  In this instance I stuck a half inch bolt into the end and welded it in place.  This provides a nice smooth surface that won't hang on logs, andirons, etc.  Lacking a welder, use a black iron threaded cap.  
The hose nipple.  I peened over the end of the half inch pipe until the 3/8" pipe fit snugly and then welded it in place.  Lacking a welder, either use a reducing bushing or just use a length of 3/8" pipe.  I used what I had on hand.  
The propane torch body must be prepared as shown.  The burner head is removed and discarded.  In the good old days the orifice was an insert that could simply be removed.  No more.  BernzOmatic has figured out how to roll the end of the brass over, probably around a pin, to make the orifice integral to the tube.  To remove it, carefully file the end flat.  Only a tiny amount of brass need be removed.

When finished, slide the rubber hose over the stem and secure with an automotive worm clamp.

You're DONE!

In action.  With seasoned wood it takes only minutes to get it going.  No paper or kindling needed.

This lighter works equally well with charcoal.  Simply put the charcoal in a lighting chimney and stick the wand in through the holes in the bottom.  About 5 minutes with the torch and the fire is lit.

One Word of Caution: Don't let the cylinder tip over.  If you do, liquid propane will be discharged from the tank.  This will result in a larger flame which isn't a particular problem.  What IS a problem is that the evaporating liquid will freeze the rubber hose hard enough that it is easily broken.  THEN you have a problem! Keep the cylinder upright and everything will be fine.

I recommend using a bit longer hose than I did.  That will make it easier to keep the cylinder upright.  I used a piece of hose I had on hand.