By March 27, 2007

DrFaulken plays with his food.

Our friend Stomper recalled an urban legend that Fritos make excellent fire fuel. After our regular bi-weekly gaming session, we decided to test the theory out. The contestants: a bag of regular Fritos versus a cotton ball dipped in petroleum jelly. I already knew how well my burn-o-balls worked, but it would be excellent if I could put a bag of Fritos in my emergency kit: a food source and a fire source in one crunchy package.

The test environment:
I used the same SparkLite fire starter from before, with a regular Bic-style lighter as back up. I have two lighters in my emergency bag just in case something happens to my SparkLite. For simplicity, and for direct comparison to the burn-o-balls, I hoped that the Fritos would catch on fire from the SparkLite. I reused the same “burn bowl” from the burn-o-balls post.

There was a nine MPH wind during our test. It was strong enough to make us relocate the test to a different part of the deck, but not strong enough to affect the actual test.

Round One: Fritos
I started out by putting one Frito in the burn bowl. I expected the Frito to burst into flames like a vampire in daylight. I showered it with sparks from the SparkLite, first from the usual two inch distance I use with the burn-o-balls, then to the point where I was almost touching the Frito. I scorched an area of the Frito, but it wouldn’t burn. I tried crumbling up the Frito and making a little burn pile out of the crumbs. I hit the pile with the SparkLite again, but no joy.

The flame from the Bic lighter made the Frito catch fire almost immediately. The Frito burned brightly with a one to two inch flame. The surface of the Frito turned black and started bubbling, almost like burning plastic. It also stank like a mofo, almost like burning plastic. Coincidence? I think not. I initially thought the bubbling was due to the salt in the Frito, but afterwards our friend Teach concluded it was the sugar burning off.

Round Two: Burn-o-ball
When I did my initial write up, it took a few tries with the SparkLite to get the b-o-b to the cotton ball to catch. I was hoping for some vindication in front of all my friends. I was not disappointed. With one roll of the striker, the SparkLite lit the burn-o-ball up. The flames were much higher than the Frito, probably three to four inches tall, much wider, and the ball burned for much longer than the Frito. Best of all, it didn’t stink.

Round Three: Fiery synergistic cooperative multi-tasking interfaces (or, further testing)
What’s better than lighting up a Frito and then a burn-o-ball? Lighting up a Frito with a burn-o-ball! This is probably the best use of Fritos-as-firestarters. Make a nest with a b-o-b, and then a tent/wigwam with Fritos. Place kindling on top of the firestarter material and apply SparkLite. If you can’t light a fire with that combo, you are probably fucked anyway and should wait to make a fire later. You did bring your bug out bag with a tarp, wool blanket, and other junk, right? I know it smells bad in there, kid, but it’ll keep you warm.

The conclusion:
You can’t eat a burn-o-ball, but as far as starting fires go, it beat the contender down like Chuck Lidell having a bad hair day. If you like the corn chip to begin with it wouldn’t hurt to toss some into your bug out bag, but I wouldn’t go out and buy a bag of Fritos to use as an emergency firestarter. I doubt that Fritos will bring you back safely from the knife’s edge of starvation anyway. They are, however, lightweight and provide a potent source of sodium. And as we found out, a potent stench of burning plastic.

I might get my hands on some dry non-dairy creamer powder. I heard that stuff lights up pretty well. We drink our coffee black here in Gibberishland, but you never know when you might be able to trade that nasty junk for a bag of Fritos.

Thanks to Stilts for running the video camera. Special thanks to Lady Jaye for making the run to buy a bag of Fritos. Behind every kooky article on Gibberish, there is an understanding woman.

Here’s the whole video — four minutes and forty seconds. There’s a “tear” in the footage, I’m not sure if my miniDV tape is going bad or what. Apologies.

Posted in: preparedness, review

2 Comments on "DrFaulken plays with his food."

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  1. I might get my hands on some dry non-dairy creamer powder. I heard that stuff lights up pretty well.


    like a powder keg!

  2. Bond says:

    Mix gas and Styrofoam, it burns for hours, not the best for the environment, but if you need to ward off monsters, give it a try. It’s the poor man’s napalm.