SOUTH JORDAN, Utah — It's pretty much a "don't try this at home" thing, but seriously, Konel Banner can light Insta-Fire granules in his hand.Because the patented volcanic rock and wood pellet mixture burns from the top down, the fire doesn't burn him — unless the wind blows the flame sideways.That's just one feature Banner feels makes Insta-Fire an ideal fuel for Mormons to include in their home storage plan."It's so completely safe to store, next to food, in the garage, even after it's been opened," Banner said. "It doesn't light with a spark. It's considered a noncombustible."The main Insta-Fire ingredient — volcanic rock — is mined in Malad, Idaho. It's heated to more than 3,000 degrees, making the rock porous. Wood pellets are added, the rock is soaked in a liquid mineral agent and coated with wax. The process creates a kind of kindling product that lights quickly with flame, burns hotly and is bio-degradable.Tami Girsberger, who sells Insta-Fire through her Preparedness Products website, adds the ashes to her garden when she's finished with a meal. "It adds nitrogen to the soil," she said."I was at a mountain man rendezvous, and I saw an old man burning rocks, so I bought a few rocks, tried them and they didn't light. I ended up going back to the old man for the rest of the story," Banner said. "That led to a long process where my friend Frank Weston and I spent every day for a year perfecting the formula."About five years ago, Insta-Fire was ready for use, and a good amount was sent to victims of Hurricane Katrina. Today, it's being used in Haiti in many of the orphanages.Marilyn Hoff, "The Earthquake Lady" with the Utah Department of Public Safety Division of Homeland Security, recommends it as part of a "grab-and-go" pack. She has some in her personal pack."This to me is a clean way to cook and to keep warm. It is safe," Hoff said. "I was very impressed. I met Konel in a Smith's parking lot and it had snowed. He put some directly on the snow and lit it and it stayed lit the whole time."Banner said Insta-Fire is great for Scout campouts because it can be lit on top of snow or wet ground. (It also works well to get charcoal briquets going for the grill or in simple brick-lined ovens.)"All my life I've been told to store fuel where possible, but I've never known how to store fuel. This fits the bill. It can be stored safely for years," Banner said. "Five buckets per person would serve as a year supply."A 5-gallon, 80-cup bucket sells for $59.95 and has enough fuel to cook 80 meals or more (a half-cup is sufficient to start 10-20 briquets). Single-serve packets cost $2 each and work well in 72-hour kits because they're light and noncombustible.To purchase Insta-Fire, see: (www.instafire.com).


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