⟨ Object ⟩

Tinderbox

A set of primitive fire making tools.

Words / Phaedrus Lam
Illustration / Furze Chan
Translation / Ian Tsang

時代愈是紛亂,人們就愈想依賴一些簡單、原始的生活方式與工具,為山雨欲來的變化作好準備。近年來野營技藝(Bushcraft)在歐美有回溫的趨勢,愛好者四處搜羅實用的野營工具,而當中就連阿公級的也不放過,像接下來要介紹的火絨盒(Tinderbox)就是個好例子。

顧名思義,火絨盒是一個收納生火工具的盒子。在18世紀火柴尚未發明前,每位男士都會隨身攜帶火絨盒外出。這作為標準的配備,它應該會包含以下這些東西:一塊燧石、一塊高碳鋼、一點碳布和一點乾草。使用時,一手拿高碳鋼,另一手拿燧石並夾住碳布,兩者敲擊下會迸出火花,並燃起手中夾住的碳布,這時再把碳布扔進乾草等易燃物料中即可生火。

一般的火絨盒都是銅製的長型四方盒,然而也有為數不少的人,愛使用這款由加拿大老牌企業Hudson Bay所生產的銅製橢圓形煙草盒(Tobacco Box)作火絨盒。此中除了盒子更帥氣的理由外,它的盒頂還設置了一塊放大鏡,能讓你在太陽充沛的日子裡,不費吹灰之力即能生火。話說,這片不起眼的小鏡,可算是人類最早開發的「太陽能儀器」之一,利用源源不絕的太陽能量,以作日常生活之用;而儘管那是兩百年前的產物,卻仍然與今日提倡之永續性理念並行不悖。

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The more chaotic the times are, the stronger our desire is to rely on some simple and primitive lifestyle and tools to be well prepared for impending changes. Recent years have witnessed a trend towards a renewed interest in bushcraft in the Western world, with enthusiasts searching for practical wild camp tools here and there, including even those as old as their grandfathers. A great example is Tinderbox, which I am going to introduce here.

As its name suggests, tinderbox is a box for storing fire starting tools. In the 18th century, before matches were invented, every gentleman brought along a tinderbox with them wherever they went. The standard kit should also include the following items: a flint, a piece of carbon steel, a small piece of char cloth, as well as a bit of dry grass. When using it, hold a piece of carbon steel in one hand, and a flint pressed against a piece of char cloth in the other. By striking both against each other, spark will form, subsequently igniting the piece of cloth. At this point, add the char cloth into kindling such as dry grass, starting a fire right away.

A regular tinderbox comes in the form of a long rectangular copper box. Nevertheless, a good many people love using this oval-shaped copper tobacco box as their tinder box. It was manufactured by Hudson Bay, an old brand in Canada. Its popularity can be attributed to not only its relatively cool outlook, but also to the magnifying glass on top of it, which will turn fire making into a breeze for you on a sunny day. It is said that this small piece of humble-looking glass can be regarded as one of the earliest “solar energy devices” to be invented. It utilizes unlimited solar power for daily purposes. Even though it was a product from two hundred years ago, it does not go against the idea of sustainability being promoted nowadays.

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