The blow tube (bellows). An invaluable tool.

Discussion in 'Fire' started by Beach Hiker, Oct 12, 2018.

  1. Beach Hiker

    Beach Hiker Traveller Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    I know I'm not alone in loving these.
    Now that the cold season is here, fire becomes more needed.
    And if you have a fireplace or wood stove you will be amazed how handy these are.
    20181012_070058.jpg
    I made this one from copper piping. I bought the soft type that comes rolled. Cut it about 60 cm long. I lightly filed the mouth end. Done.

    I also have and love my collapsible version:
    20181012_070113.jpg
    If you know anybody who has a fireplace or wood stove, these make great little gifts.

    They fit nicely into tent bags, tripod chair bags and so on.

    All I can say is. .. try it. You will wonder how you got by without it.

    Final convincer: you will save lots of frustration, tinder, fire starters and so on by using one of these. Fires that look surely dead spring back to life in a moment.
    Sales pitch over.
    If you are using one.... let's hear about it.
     
  2. Crusher0032

    Crusher0032 Appalachian Arthfael Supporter

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    Old broken off collapsible radio and TV antennae work well for a cheap light compact blow tube for a fire kit. I keep a Pocket Bellows in my kit, which is similar but moves a lot more air.

    As for my woodstove, I have a piece of unused 3/8" brake line that serves the same purpose and have also used an aluminum arrow in the past.

    Great way to concentrate a ton of air in a small spot and save on kindling when restarting a fire, or helping to get a fire going with marginal materials in bad conditions.

    Quoted my bush class post below for making bannock which happened to occur during a heavy rain as an example of how useful these tools are. I forgot to mention in the write-up that I used my Pocket Bellows to get my natural tinder and split wood fire going. It rained hard for days before and during my trip, which made making a fire tough to get going without one.

     
  3. DomC

    DomC Retired Old Scrub Stomper Supporter

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    I have a couple Pocket Bellows stashed in several fire kits. They are pieces of kit that will prove invaluable in making fire with wet kindling/wood. Your fire kit is incomplete without one IMHO.
    Dominick........
     
  4. Beach Hiker

    Beach Hiker Traveller Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    Yup.

    Yup.
     
  5. Crowe

    Crowe Tracker

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    I use a titanium drinking straw as a blow tube.and also use the straw to store titanium wire tent pegs in
     
  6. MrFixIt

    MrFixIt Old Jarhead Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    I agree, invaluable tool.
     
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  7. BradGad

    BradGad Supporter Supporter

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    Stainless steel straws — which are very popular and widely available right now because of environmental concerns about plastic waste — make a good cheap sturdy blow tube for use on the trail.
     
  8. Zunga

    Zunga Supporter Supporter

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    I made my first ones last year. The one in my kit is cedar with a paracord wrap. I had two pieces of 3/4 inch square. Trenched the middle on each one. Clamshell together and bind. Cedar has the advantage of being tinder if it's hard to come by.
    Cheers Jim
     
  9. will62

    will62 Guide

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    I built one out of a length of rubber tubing and a couple of pieces of an aluminum arrow shaft, works great.
     
  10. Bob_Spr

    Bob_Spr Guide

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    +10 on using bellows, be they bought or home made.

    I wear glasses so the bellows are eye savers for me. Before, I would have to take off my glasses to get in position to blow on the fire and make sure I didn't drop them or misplace them or ...... If I didn't take off my glasses, smoke would get behind them and stay there irritating my eyes until I stopped, took off the glasses and wiped my eyes. Sure, it only took 30 seconds to clear my eyes but 30 seconds at the wrong time. With the bellows, I can keep my glasses on, lean back to a comfortable range and use the bellows.
     
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  11. Primordial

    Primordial MOA #40 Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    I always thought they were a gimmick until my buddy got one for a gift and started using it on our outings. It made a believer out of me. Very handy in wet weather for bringing a coal bed back to life with little effort. It also helps to quickly cook out moisture from wet wood once you have a small bed of coals established. Instead of gingerly tending a fire with wet wood for 20 minutes you can blow on the coals and make a blast furnace that will dry wet wood into combustion in under 5 minutes time.

    100_1650.JPG

    100_1715.JPG

    100_1716.JPG

    After witnessing their value over the past few years, one now lives in my waxed tinder pouch.
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2018
  12. arleigh

    arleigh Guide

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    This is bellows.
    13523x.jpg
     
  13. DomC

    DomC Retired Old Scrub Stomper Supporter

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    Yes, it is! :eek: But you can't carry it in a pocket lol!;)
    Dominick........
     
  14. Coryphene

    Coryphene Guide

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    I have a fireplace in our apartment and picked up a blow pipe that doubles as a fire poker at the blacksmith demo at the NC State Fair. It is pretty awesome.

    I agree @arleigh about what are bellows. These telescoping "pocket bellows" are really just a compact blow pipe but I guess "Pocket Bellows" sounds less dirty than "Pocket Blow Pipe".

    "I got yer Blow Pipe right here!"
     
  15. DomC

    DomC Retired Old Scrub Stomper Supporter

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    The "bellows" part are your lungs, the telescoping tube concentrates the force of air from your lungs and keeps your face away from the ensuing flames......;):dblthumb:
    Dominick.........
     
  16. DarrylM

    DarrylM Supporter Supporter

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    I made one by disassembling a dollar store selfie stick.
     
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  17. Unistat76

    Unistat76 Nerd Supporter Bushclass I

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    I love mine, but one common mistake I see nearly everyone make (but only once) is to place the tube in one's mouth, then lean into/move to the fire.

    Don't do that. One bump into a log will send quite a knock into your teeth or lips. Ouch!
     
  18. MrFixIt

    MrFixIt Old Jarhead Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    ^^That, or inhale...:11:
     
  19. Beach Hiker

    Beach Hiker Traveller Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    Now that is finally a good use for one of those things. Must try.
     
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  20. kronin323

    kronin323 Supporter Supporter

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    An old proponent of the "huff and puff" method of nurturing a fire, I'd been eyeballing one of these as a more efficient alternative. The other month after reading the trip report @Primordial references above I went ahead and pulled the trigger. Weekend after next I've got a trip planned where it'll get some use, looking forward to it.

    It appears that one advantage of the telescoping model over a straight tube is the shrinking diameter concentrates the air stream, get a little more targeted umph for the effort.
     
  21. arleigh

    arleigh Guide

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    What you are blowing from your lungs is carbon dioxide , not oxygen.
    The wind drawn from that expression pulls a little atmospheric oxygen that is being directed to the flame.
    Getting closer reduces the amount of AIR being drawn in .
    Similar in reverse to the gas jet on a stove driving the fuel and creating a vortex of oxygen from the port just ahead of it .
    Bellows are pushing strait air much like the working of a forge using coal.
    Any one familiar with oxygen knows how volatile combustable become ,almost instantaneous spontaneous combustion .
    A blow tube can be made to perform more efficiently adding a vortex nozzle at the end, drawing more actual air into the coals .
    Good functioning lungs harvest a great deal of air from the atmosphere driving it into your blood stream especially if you are compressing it. Blowing.
    Hyperventilate and see what happens .
    But what you exhale is not very much air.
     
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  22. DomC

    DomC Retired Old Scrub Stomper Supporter

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    The gist of it all is that it works!;):dblthumb:
    Dominick........
     
  23. Silvuhboolit

    Silvuhboolit Supporter Supporter

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    Now that, makes perfect sense. I think I’m going to go get one
     
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  24. MrFixIt

    MrFixIt Old Jarhead Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    Yes, get one. After you have tried it out, you'll end up with more.
    Another use for a pocket bellows is an impromptu straw.
     
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  25. DomC

    DomC Retired Old Scrub Stomper Supporter

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  26. Primordial

    Primordial MOA #40 Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    On average you inhale about 20% oxygen and you exhale about 15% oxygen...all thing being equal.
     
  27. BradGad

    BradGad Supporter Supporter

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    I bet we could work out something involving a stainless straw, that bit of tubing that comes with a Sawyer Squeeze, and a self-inflating ThermaRest to make a trail bellows with essentially no added weight.
     
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  28. Silvuhboolit

    Silvuhboolit Supporter Supporter

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    I hear that flatulence is flammable....:D:D
     
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  29. gohammergo

    gohammergo I like sharp things.... Supporter

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    But using a pocket bellows makes that very uncomfortable I bet. :)
     
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  30. Beach Hiker

    Beach Hiker Traveller Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    What? You never tried to verify that?
     
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  31. oddjob35

    oddjob35 Scout

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    As @Primordial states above, the air we breathe in contains about 20% oxygen and the air that we breathe out still contains about 15% oxygen. So using a tube you are blowing a mixture containing 15% oxygen straight into the fire and any turbulence effects will only bring in slightly more oxygen rich air and not be the only supply.

    This is why mouth-to-mouth resuscitation works, because there is still plenty of oxygen in the air we breathe out.

    My extending tube was a "collapsible camp fire fork" which kept spinning around with a wiener on it making it virtually useless. So I took the U-shaped prongs off (a small spot weld), cut the narrow end of the tube to get rid of the remains of the weld, flattened that end slightly to stop it going back too far when collapsed and finally just trimmed the rubber handle enough to get a hole through into the tube. The rubber handle helps grip with gloves on, cushions the bump if you do jam the tip into a log and prevents hot lips if the tube is left near the fire long enough!

    OJ
     
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