Why Electric Radiators Are The Green Alternative To Night Storage Heaters

Night storage heaters have been a part of British domestic life ever since they were introduced into our homes during the 1970s.

Whirring away out of sight they were generally accepted as a must-have system for the modern home. Such immense popularity was largely due to both businesses and homeowners easily taking advantage of the low costs they incur. However, such convenience has always come at a price due to concern over the effect their usage has on the environment.

The good news is that 21st century technology has eliminated the need for old fashioned heating systems, as modern electric radiators feature advanced technology that makes them an excellent eco-friendly alternative ideal for use in all homes and businesses. These systems are also far more attractive than their old fashioned counterparts.

Read on to find out how and why modern radiators are the preferable heating option.

Electric radiators

Environmentally friendly systems

The most significant attribute of an electric radiator is that unlike storage heaters it does not produce the type of dry burning heat that causes the release of carbon elements that harm the atmosphere. Although the carbon release is only minuscule, when the combination of all storage heaters in the world is considered there is undeniably an environmental problem with such usage.

This carbon can also be hazardous to human health when inhaled over long-term periods, causing inflammation of the lungs; a condition especially harmful to asthma sufferers who are more likely to experience a reaction.

In order to combat the problems produced by storage heaters, electric radiators come fitted with powerful insulation technology which make for a powerful performance capable of anything a storage heater can provide.

Updating storage heater technology

The ability to release heat once switched off from mains power supply has long been a significant reason for the popularity of storage heaters. However, this technology has now not only been matched, it is available in a more effective, environmentally friendly form.

One of the key developments of electric radiator technology is the introduction of Magmatic Heat Retention tablets (MHR). These little tablets allow for a quick generation of heat that can turn even the coldest of temperatures into complete warmth in the space of just half an hour, easily beating the speed allowed by night storage heaters.

MHR technology also allows the radiator to switch off automatically once a desired temperature is reached, saving energy as well as any night storage heater can without waste.

One benefit of MHR tablets which parallels night storage heater technology is the ability to store the generated heat and gradually release it overnight after the radiator switches itself off. The easy to use digital timers and thermostats familiar with modern electric radiator design allow for this to happen simply and effectively.

Another one of the most popular electric radiator design types is the Multi-Fin radiator, which works through the use of a number of tiny fins inside the radiator that when activated will ensure all heat is circulated evenly around a room; a technique that not only allows for equal hear distribution but also uses less energy overall.


Consuming Less energy

When Magmatic Heat Retention and Multi-Fin capabilities are combined, the heat produced becomes part radiated and part convected, thereby creating a temperature that encompasses the comfort of radiated heat with an even dispersion of convected heat. It also requires a lower amount of energy to perform, needing just a third of the energy consumed by old night storage heater designs.


Eco-friendly & stylish too

Electric radiator designs also boast a trendy contemporary design that compliments the décor of any modern home. The cumbersome models of the past have been replaced by sleek, attractive designs that fit into the home and won't interfere with the tone of the decor in any significant way. In fact, modern electric radiators can actually be colour coordinated to support a home's interior design.

West Country Heating provide stylish electric radiators that utilise the most reliable environmentally friendly technology. Contact them today to see how they can make your home a healthier, greener place.

How to make recycling easier

It’s Recycle Week this week, so here's some top tips for making recycling and re-using as pain free as possible.

My top recycling recommendation is Recycle Now’s Recycling Locator, which is handy for checking what and where you can recycle. It offers advice on everything from car engine oil to fridge freezers, and you can search by your postcode.

Clothing waste is a major issue in the UK

£140 million of clothing goes to landfill every year, much of which is perfectly wearable. If you don’t fancy selling your old clothes on eBay, charity shops are always grateful for items that still have life left in them. One of our team members recently went to a ‘swishing party’ – apparently it’s less kinky than it sounds. She got lots of new – to her – clothes and they raised over £600 to help people affected by the Nepal disaster.

Check out http://swishing.com/ to find a party, or get tips for hosting your own.

Apparently, UK households throw away 7 million tonnes of food and drink every year..

…most of which could have been eaten. Meal planning goes a long way towards cutting food waste, as does reusing leftovers. Soups, stews, pasta sauces, omelettes and good old bubble and squeak are a great way to polish off leftover veg. The Love Food, Hate Waste website is a good source of inspiration when it comes to recipes for leftovers, as you can search by ingredient.


Some leftovers can’t be used, and there are still peelings and stalks to get rid of. If you’re a gardener, you might want to invest in a kitchen composter.


Kerbside food waste collection is pretty common now; some councils even provide free bags, but if yours isn’t one of them, we do sell compostable kitchen waste bin liners.


We also sell recycling bins, although they’ve proven rather more popular than we anticipated and the manufacturer is struggling to cope, so they’re not in stock at the moment. You can email us if you want to find out when they’re back in though.


None of us are perfect (I’m certainly not), but I really do think it helps to make recycling and reusing as easy as possible for the whole family.


For example, Hu2’s To Be Recycled decal acts as a handy reminder to think before binning something and Blue Marmalade’s envelope opener and address labels make reusing envelopes a doddle.


However much you recycle, most of us still need to use the black bin at least occasionally, so we do stock degradable bin bags.


There are some disagreements in the scientific world about how quickly degradable plastic bags break down once they’re in landfill. We admit that they’re not perfect, but we still think they’re a much better option than non-degradable ones.


Writing this post has reminded me that there are a fair few positive changes I could do with making myself. First on the list is downloading a shopping list app to my phone, to help me plan my grocery shop a bit better. I’m also going to be following #RecycleWeek on Twitter for a bit of inspiration.


One of the reasons I love recycling is that it provides the materials for a lot of the products that we sell, from our aluminium foil, to cardboard chairs, so if you’re a devout recycler yourself, I thank you!


How do you recycle? Tell us in the comments below.


The makers who turn recycling into an art form

Today I’m paying homage to the visionaries – the eco designers who take our cast-offs and transform them into items we might actually want to show off.

I do think it takes a special kind of innovator to look at a damaged fire-hose and want to recycle it into a gorgeous belt, or who pick up an old life jacket and envision an upcycled shoulder bag or laptop sleeve.

Belt by Elvis & Kresse is made from a decommission fire hose
Belt by Elvis & Kresse is made from a decommission fire hose

It takes vision to recycle and upcycle, rather than just opting for shiny new material.

Shoulder bag upcycled from a life jacket, includes the whistle and red ripcord, and uses the inflation tube as a pen holder
Shoulder bag upcycled from a life jacket, includes the whistle and red ripcord, and uses the inflation tube as a pen holder

Some items display their eco credentials proudly
Take these salt and pepper shakers. They’re clearly made from pool balls and conjure up images of darkened pool halls and tequila slammers.

These pool balls have been upcycled into funky salt and pepper shakers
These pool balls have been upcycled into funky salt and pepper shakers

That life jacket bag I mentioned? It includes the whistle and red ripcord, and uses the inflation tube as a pen holder.

Some of the best eco products are ones that don’t look especially eco friendly at first glance
Take Sarah Turner’s Cola 10 Bottle Light. As the name suggests, it’s made from 10 plastic cola bottles, but you wouldn’t know it to look at it. It’s simply an eye-catching, rather funky lightshade.

Cola 10 by Sarah Turner is made from 10 recycled cola bottles
This light shade by Sarah Turner is made from 10 recycled cola bottles

It would probably attract attention if it was hanging in your living room, but it’s pretty unlikely the admirer would know that it was in any way eco friendly.

As Sarah herself says, “Just because a product is made from rubbish, doesn’t mean it needs to look like it does.”

Thanks to kerbside collection, plastic recycling is pretty common in the UK. But what about less recyclable items, such as typewriter components, broken camera lenses and worn paint brushes?

Well, over in Huddersfield, Zincwhite is giving them a whole new lease of life, re-purposing them as hair clips, bracelets and cufflinks.

Zinc White make recycled jewellery where design is the primary driving force
Zinc White make recycled jewellery where design is the primary driving force

Imperfect colouring pencils are fashioned into eye-catching items of jewellery: “Cool design is the primary driving force, the recycled bit is the bonus,” they say.

There are also some really innovative products on the market that help people to reuse products themselves
Got an old paperback book that’s a bit too mucky to pass on? With the help of a kit, you can use it to grow your own mushrooms. I mean, how does someone think that up?

Recycle an old book and grow delicious mushrooms
Recycle an old book and grow delicious mushrooms

So I’d like to raise a toast (in a recycled glass, of course) to the eco visionaries. May you continue to inspire, innovate and save the planet, one torn fire hose at a time.



Ten top eco gifts for Father’s Day your dad will love

It’s that time of year that tends to bring a lot of people out in a sweat: Father’s Day. Worry not. Here are our top ten suggestions for eco gifts that your Dad will love.

Why are dads so much harder to buy for than mums? Here at Nigel’s Eco Store, we reckon the perfect Father’s Day gift needs to be:

  • Something personal, that shows you’ve actually paid attention to his ramblings.
  • A gift that lasts (unless it’s food, in which case it needs to be something that isn’t going to languish in the cupboard for years.)
  • Something a bit different, that your sister wouldn’t have thought of.

So with these guidelines front of mind, here’s our top ten eco friendly suggestions for unique Father’s Day gifts.

1. If dad likes his coffee and is a bit of a fussy bugger, Hu2 Design’s Caffe Latte mug should be right up his street, as it shows the exact quantities of espresso, steamed milk and foam needed for the perfect latte.

Hu2's mug is deal for a coffee drinker!
Hu2’s mug is deal for a coffee drinker

2. Or, if his favourite tipple is of the alcoholic variety, our round bottomed recycled whisky glasses or Grolsch goblets may be a better option.

Recycled glass whisky tumblers - lovely to have and to hold
Recycled glass whisky tumblers – lovely to have and to hold
Glasses made from upcycled Grolsch bottles make a great gift
Glasses made from upcycled Grolsch beer bottles make a great gift

3. A new wallet is always appreciated. Davis Jeans wallets are made from old jeans’ labels and a recycled bicycle tube, and Elvis and Kresse’s rather lovely billfold wallet is made from a decommissioned fire hose, so each one is unique, and tells a story.

Elvis & Kresse make gorgeous wallets from decommissioned fire hoses
Elvis & Kresse make gorgeous bags and wallets from decommissioned fire hoses
Wallet made from recycled jeans labels
Wallet made from recycled jeans labels

4. If you’re buying for your kids’ dad (or you have a really funky father), Po Zu’s sneakers are a good bet. They’re made from organic cotton, eco-microfibre, corn husk and recycled materials, but design has been given just as much importance as the eco-credentials.

Great eco shoes from Po-Zu
Great eco shoes from Po-Zu

5. Alternatively, the recycled parachute messenger bag is great for commuters.

A messenger bag made from an upcycled parachute is a good gift for a commuter
This messenger bag is made from an upcycled parachute

6. Cufflinks can be seen as a bit of a naff gift, but we’ve got a few that are less, shall we say, ‘run of the mill’.  Cufflinks made from recycled pencils are a good choice for arty dads, while recycled circuit board cufflinks should appeal to techies.

These cufflinks are mde from recycled coloured pencils
These cufflinks are mde from recycled coloured pencils

7. If the father in question is a bit of an eco geek (like me), we’ve got plenty of choices for you, from a Sun Solo solar phone charger to a water-powered clock.

Sun Solo solar travel charger sticks to a window for handy charging
Sun Solo solar travel charger sticks to a window for handy charging

8. On a budget? (And who isn’t, after that election result?) How about the Remember Me key hook, a handmade shaving soap, the Not Knot cable organiser or a grenade shaped seed bomb?

Give a gift that helps bees. A pollinator beebom is good for a gardener
Help the bees, with a pollinator beebom

9. Outdoorsy, Bear Grylls types should be happy with a Fire Kit in a Tin, which contains a fire striker and several natural tinders, a solar powered kettle or a wind-up torch.

Fox & Fire's natural tinder fire making kit
Fox & Fire’s natural tinder fire making kit – good for outdoorsy types

10. Finally, if Dad really does depend on you to replenish his sock collection, you can at least buy him some decent ones. Our Freethinker socks are made from bamboo, which is incredibly comfortable and stays fresh for longer. And when it comes to the Father’s Day card, why not carve your own?

Bamboo socks are always a winner!
Bamboo socks are always a winner!
Send something unique and carve your own card!
Send something unique and carve your own card!

Well, that’s my two-penn-orth, but feel free to ignore me and stick with a trusty gift voucher instead.

What will you be giving your dad for father’s day this year? Let us know in the comments below.


Introducing the next step… Why we’re setting up a marketplace for eco design

Nigel's Eco Marketplace

It’s our tenth anniversary here at Nigel’s Eco Store. We could kick back and celebrate (or we could head off to the beach for the summer), but instead we’ve decided to indulge in a particular passion of ours – eco design.

This summer at Nigel’s Eco Store, we’re launching a new marketplace to promote design-led eco products. Think bags made from recycled fire hose, smartphone speakers crafted from reclaimed wood, and wall decals made with eco-vinyl.

Elvis and Kresse make gorgeous bags from fire hoses
Elvis and Kresse make gorgeous bags from fire hoses

We haven’t gone public with the marketplace just yet, but it is open for business and I wanted to give you an early viewing.

Morph speakers amplify without power
Morph speakers amplify without power

Back in 2005, when I first launched Nigel’s Eco Store, I headed to 100% Design for inspiration. I found Re:design, a side exhibition in Brick Lane. There were eco products there that got me really excited, but most were not yet in production, and those that were just weren’t a good fit with the store.

Fast forward 10 years, and designers have really woken up to the potential of eco design. Recycled and reclaimed materials are being turned into lust-worthy objects. Brands like Morph and Tense are bringing together carpenters, designers and technicians to use wood in ways that have never been thought of before. Clothing brands, such as Po-zu, are using natural materials like corn husk in place of plastics. It’s truly a great time for eco-design.

Po-zu use coco husk in their shoes
Po-zu use corn husk in their shoes

We’re starting small… with just a handful of hand-picked designers. Some of these are brands I’ve come across over the years. My Tense wooden watch, for example, is as much a part of my ‘look’ as my glasses. Others have popped up in the news or on social media; Ashton Kutcher and Ryan Gosling have tweeted about the Hu2 wall decals. And others I’ve literally scoured design shows and the internet for.

Ashton Kutcher uses them, and Kylie tweeted about Hu2's stickers
Ashton Kutcher uses them, and Ryan Gosling tweeted about Hu2’s stickers

Once we’re really up and running, we’ll be adding a lot of new designers, brands and artisans to the mix. All the products will have some kind of eco-credentials, whether they’re Fairtrade, recycled, re-purposed, or just designed to make green living easier. But we’re equally as happy to collaborate with a work-at-home mum in Cornwall as we are a big(ish) Canadian brand. This isn’t about mass production, it’s about eco-items that are dare I say it, damn sexy.

Tense watches are made from sustainable sources and offcuts
Tense watches are made from sustainable sources and offcuts. I love mine.

So do take a look at marketplace.nigelsecostore.com, and if you know of any designers or makers we should invite on board, please leave us a comment below.

A Guide to an Energy Efficient Home

This is a handy infographic about Energy Efficiency

With thanks to Boiler Juice
With thanks to Boiler Juice

Eco Kettle: Consider replacing your standard kettle with an energy saving kettle. These handy gadgets use vacuum flask technology to keep water hot for longer.

Boiler: Around 55% of home energy costs are related to your boiler. Get yours serviced annually to make sure it is working efficiently and reduce the chance of expensive breakdowns or maintenance issues.

Microwave: Research has apparently shown that heating food up in a microwave rather than using the oven could save you money. Typical Saving: Uses about 50% less energy.

Living Room
Ecobutton: This handy USB device powers down your computer quickly when you want to take a break from your desk – a must-have if you’re working from home. Typical Saving: Approx. £50 per year

Chimney: Block your chimney or invest in a chimney balloon to reduce the amount of heat that is lost through your chimney. Typical Saving: Up to £153 a year.

Radiator: Look after your radiators! Bleed radiators regularly to make sure they are working as efficiently as possible.

Thermostat: Sometimes a small change can make a big difference. Dial your thermostat down by just 1°C to save on your heating bills. Typical Saving: Up to ?60 per year.

Cavity Wall Insulation: Take advantage of free cavity wall insulation as part of government-backed schemes. Typical Saving: Up to 15% on fuel bills.

Light Bulbs: If you’re still using incandescent lightbulbs, it’s time to make the switch to LEDs. Typical Saving: Incandescent bulbs use up to 75% less energy.

Plug Sockets: Unplug devices when they aren’t in use. Even if your TV is on standby it’s still using power – it all adds up!

Windows: Natural light is free light! Take advantage of the sun during those summer months rather than automatically switching on lights.

Shower Pressure: One high-pressure shower could use more energy than a bath – turn down your water pressure to save on those bills.

Shower Timer: A shower timer can help you to reduce your bathroom time and save on your water bills. Typical Saving: Up to £150 per year for a family of four.

Ditch the Batteries: Using battery-powered devices in the bathroom uses more power than mains-operated devices. Ditch the batteries, or switch to a manual razor to save on your bills.

Dual Flush Toilet: If you’re refitting your bathroom, invest in a dual flush toilet to save on your water bills. Typical Saving: Up to 69,000 litres of water per year for a family of four.

Insulation: Invest in cavity wall insulation and loft insulation (a minimum of 270mm) to insulate your home and save on heating bills. Typical Saving: Up to £250 per year.

Let us know if you find this useful.

8 simple things you can do for the planet inspired by Earth Day

It was Earth Day on 22nd April. If you missed it among the UK election coverage, here’s 8 simple things you can do for the planet.

earth day 1970
Earth Day 1970

Earth Day came and went largely unnoticed in the UK this year. I did see a few pieces in the media on it: in the Guardian and the Independent.

The Uk election coverage has been all consuming, but around the world millions of people people took part in this year’s Earth Day – it’s 45th year – to support environmental campaigns and to act to secure a healthy future for themselves and their children.

They attended events about climate change, they planted trees, they cleaned up parks and streams; President Obama made a speech, and even the Pope spoke about it.

Since 2011 almost 1.5 billion pledges to protect the planet and live a more sustainable life have been made because of Earth Day – from washing laundry in cold water and riding a bike instead of driving, to planting a garden, to large-scale lightbulb changes and renewable energy retrofits.

Earth Day 2015
Earth Day 2015

Earth Day is a very positive initiative, and after it the pictures in the Guardian of what we’re doing to our planet make depressing viewing, but we need to see them. Especially in the UK, where the effects of a changing climate and human environmental destruction are harder to see.

If you’re moved by Earth Day or by those pictures to take some action in your own life, here are 8 simple things you can do that will make a positive difference to the lives of people, animals and nature all over the planet:

  • Eat less meat
    the meat industry generates nearly one-fifth of the man-made greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. Make a difference and eat less meat.
  • Reduce your energy consumption
    almost a third of the greenhouse gas emissions come from the energy we use to power our homes and our cars – reduce your consumption and cut bills too.
  • Compost waste food
    more than 7 million tonnes of food are thrown away every year in the UK, make a difference by turning waste food
    into good soil.
  • Turn down the temperature on your boiler
    the average boiler wastes energy heating water to temperatures that are too hot for our use – save energy and money by turning the temperature down.
  • Buy local produce
    Eat healthier and help reduce your carbon footprint by buying local produce
  • Avoid using plastic
    help end our obsession with plastic and protect the environment – carry your own bag and water bottle.
  • Use solar power
    Retrofitting your home or business with solar panels allows you to reduce your energy costs and help the environment.
  • Stop standby energy
    Every year millions of kilowatt hours of electricity are wasted by appliances that aren’t on, but still consuming energy. Help end this and switch appliances off when not in use.

At Nigel’s Eco Store, we’re a small part of a global movement trying to create a more sustainable world.

If you’d like to join in, here are just a few of the things we can help you with:
Help save bees
Choose organic school clothes
Get some solar lights and use a solar torch
Save energy at home
Save water


What actions will you take? Let us know…


7 ways to save energy in Spring

The daffodils are out and the bluebells and warmer weather are on the way. You may not have the heating on as much, but it’s still worth doing a few easy things to save energy and money at home this Spring.

save energy

You’re using the heating less, but there are still a few simple things you can do to improve energy efficiency of your home as the temperature warms up. Here’s our handy guide:

1. Switch to more energy efficiency light bulbs and save around £35 per year
You can now get energy efficient LED blubs that are bright enough to replace every kind of halogen and incandescent bulb. They’ll save more energy than the old style compact fluorescent lamps too, so now’s a good time to switch.

2. Stop using the tumble dryer
Tumble dryers are one of the most energy hungry household appliances. They use four times as much energy as a washing machine. Now that the weather is better, dry clothes on a washing line outside instead and save about £70 a year. If you’re worried about rain showers, get one of these washing line covers, they work just like an umbrella and will keep your clothes dry when it’s raining.

3. Save water in the shower
Heating water is the second largest energy use in the home (after heating). If you have a power shower, combi boiler, condensing boiler or a dedicated shower pump, a water saving shower head is guaranteed to save on water and heating bills.

radiator booster
the new Radiator Booster Turbo can save £70 to £140 a year

4. Stop leaving your appliances on standby
If you leave your TV, hifi, play station or computer on standby instead of turning them off completely, it could be costing you around £30 a year. Instead, plug them in to a standby saver, which will automatically switch off unused items, helping you to save money and energy.

5. Turn your thermostat down by one degree
Every degree you can turn your heating down saves about £60 to £70 a year. It’s an easy way to cut your energy bills especially at this time of year. Get a Radiator Booster for when the nights are a little chilly to avoid cranking the heating up too high.

energy saving kettle
an energy saving kettle is worth investing in

6. Use an Energy Saving Kettle
Every time you use a kettle, the chances are that you boil more water than you need. “Overfilling the kettle costs British households £68 million on energy bills a year” say the Energy Saving Trust, so try to only boil the water you need, or invest in an energy saving kettle.

7. Service your boiler
An inefficient boiler could cost you up to 30% of your gas bill (approx £300). You may not be using the heating as much, but you’re still using hot water, so now’s a good time to get it checked.


More experiments with making fire without matches

A couple of weeks ago, I went on a Fire Making Masterclass led by the brilliant Robert Fallon of Wild Nature. (there’s another one coming up here).

fire starting kit

Since then I’ve been experimenting with making fire without matches, using a fire making kit from Fox and Fire.

It’s been rather interesting.

Their Fire in a Tin fire starter kit contains several natural tinders that all take sparks differently. Some better than others, but all are materials that are found in nature.

Natural tinders in the Fox and Fire kit
Natural tinders in the Fox and Fire kit

The tin comes with a Light My Fire fire steel, which is one of the easiest tools for making sparks.

fire making kit

You just need to catch the spark on some tinder… these are the natural tinders in the tin:

Silver Birch Bark
This light, thin bark takes a spark well, even when wet. It helps your tinder catch fire – a small handful should be enough. If you need more, pull a few thin strips off a silver birch tree. But only take what the tree is offering (that’ll make sense when you’re in front of one.)

Reed Mace (Bulrush)
The fluffy down from a dried bulrush head is really great for catching sparks. Like cotton wool, Reed Mace catches fire and burns out very quickly, it works better if you mix some fluff with birch bark – the reed mace goes up easily, and is enough to get the bark going. If it’s windy though, the reed mace flies away really easily, so keep it out of the wind.

Cramp Balls
This is one of the best natural tinders. Cramp Balls are a black ball-shaped fungus found growing on dead Ash branches. Also called King Alfred Cakes and Coal Fungus, I found loads in the woods when I went for a walk last week. They need to be dried, and then cut open. If you drop a spark from a fire steel onto one, an ember starts really quickly. Once lit they will smoulder away for a really long time.

Cotton Wool Balls
I discovered that cotton wool balls catch fire really easily. The slightest spark from a fire steel will ignite them, but though they don’t burn for long. Fluff them up a little for best results.

How can we tackle the UK’s dirty beach problem?

Today there have been news reports about a big rise in litter, and wet wipes in particular, being found on UK beaches. We need to do more.

Many people flush wet wipes down the toilet instead of putting them in the bin, according to a report by the Marine Conservation Society.

Wet wipes don’t easily disintegrate, and our sewer systems can’t process them.

The Marine Conservation Society’s 2014 British Beach Clean found an alarming 2,457 pieces of litter on each kilometre of beach they cleaned and surveyed.

They discovered that the amount of rubbish on Britain’s coasts has risen by 6.4% from 2013 to 2014.
Beaches in Wales had the highest litter levels, followed by England, while rubbish on coastlines in Scotland and Northern Ireland fell, it said.

“We’ve got a massive amount of evidence that not enough is being done to tackle the litter in the seas and on our beaches,” the Society said.

They found 101 different types of litter – the image below shows how much of each.

Depressing stuff.

How can we tackle the UK litter problem?

Uk beach litter breakdown

A guide to… making fire with flint and steel

Even with modern day tools, making a fire in the woods or in the middle of a field, is an art that needs a little practice. It can be more rewarding though to make a fire without matches, in the way our ancestors did, using a flint and steel fire making kit instead. It’s easy when you know how.


Ever wondered how our ancestors made fire for thousands of years before matches and lighters were invented?

While experts agree the origins of stone tools date back at least 2.5 million years, the origin of making and using fire is not totally clear. The earliest evidence of humans making and using fire ranges from 200,000 to 400,000 years ago.

Back then, people would have made fire by friction, by rubbing sticks together to create a glowing coal, or by striking things together to make sparks, that would then be transferred to a tinder bundle, which would burst into flame.

Our ancestors would have been experts in making fires in this way, and of knowing which materials would make the best tinder, or, like King Alfred’s Cakes, keep an ember glowing for long enough to use for several fires.

Last year, thanks to Ruby Taylor of Native Hands, I learned to make a fire using a flint and steel fire making kit. It’s strangely satisfying and feels a more natural, and appropriate way of making fire. It’s also a useful survival skill and great bushcraft.

I’ve been using a great flint and steel kit from Fox and Fire, which has some ignition extenders – silver birch bark and natural kapok – included with it.

fire making kit

So here’s my guide to making a fire using traditional methods.

There are 3 things you need to make fire:

  • oxygen
  • fuel
  • ignition

So before you start, you need:

  • A tinder bundle: a big handful of dry grass, dry leaves, or similar – made into a ‘nest’
  • To ensure your fire bed (or fire tepee) is ready and prepared with kindling / twigs / wood of various sizes, and ready to accept your burning tinder bundle

How to use a flint and steel fire kit to make fire

flint and steel kit

These instructions are for right-handers. Do the opposite for left-handers:

  • Hold the flint in your left hand so that one of its longer sharp edges is at a 45 degree angle, facing your right hand.
  • Lay a piece of char cloth the size of a postage-stamp on the top (flat) side of the flint, and hold it there with your left thumb.
  • Keep the char cloth close to the sharp edge of the flint, a little back from the edge
    Hold the striker vertically in your right hand
  • To make sparks, bring the striker down at a 30 degree angle across the edge of the flint. Following through with long strokes will help.
  • Keep striking down until the char cloth catches a spark – this usually happens at the edge of the char cloth and might take one or two goes.
  • When a spark catches on the char cloth, it’ll glow red, you can blow gently on it to help it spread.
  • Place the glowing ember in your tinder nest, then blow hard or waft the nest, it’ll make smoke first, then burst into flame.
  • Transfer the burning tinder into your fire bed and cover with kindling, and voila, your fire will get going!

You can buy a fire making kit at Fox and Fire, and also find out more about workshops and classes based around making fire in the wild, here.

How do you make fire?

How to save up to £60 a month: use these innovative food savers to throw out less food

There’s something about all the over-indulging of food and drink during the festive period that makes January feel like a welcome relief – despite the cold weather. But it’s not just the amount we consume that feels a bit over the top, it’s also what we don’t use…

A recent Daily Mail article said that as a country we wasted about £64 million of food this Christmas.

That’s just crazy.

And we throw a lot of unused food out throughout the rest of the year too: about 24 meals worth ?60 a month, according to a recent report.

Like everyone, I end up reluctantly binning food occasionally but I’ve found some great inventions that make food last longer, and we’ve added them to Nigel’s Eco Store.

food save

For example, the breathable Banana Store keeps bananas fresh for about twice as long as normal – no more overripe brown ones.

This useful Onion Keeper solves the problem of the half-used onion slowly going off in the fridge.

And these stylish, stainless steel food containers make leftovers definitely worth eating.

Since using some of these food savers (there’s more here), I’ve really noticed how much less I throw out. And I’m not spending as much on replacing what I was wasting.

It’s surprisingly easy to do.

So how do you save food?

How to install a Loft Store Floor on stilts, to protect your loft insulation

Watch this video to see how to install an easy, safe DIY storage deck in your loft that sits on stilts and protects your loft insulation.

(You can buy StoreFloor from us here.)

Most of us know it is important to insulate the loft, because if you don’t, up to 25% of your heating bills disappear through the roof.

It’s cheap and relatively easy to install loft insulation for this: it pays for itself quickly, and it’ll help you to feel warmer in the winter and cooler at night in the summer.

The recommended depth for loft insulation is 270mm.

But as ceiling joists tend to be only 75mm or 100mm high, 270mm of loft insulation makes it impossible to see them, making it difficult to move around safely.

And if you do insulate your loft to 270mm, and then flatten it with boxes or other household belongings, the insulation then won’t work very well.

StoreFloor solves this by using modular metal rails to make an easy DIY raised deck in your loft, on stilts, that you can use for storage space, that fully protects the insulation underneath.

Let us know how you get on with it.

Read this if you’re having problems with your Vektra Vacuum Kettle

From time to time, electrical products do go wrong, but sometimes there’s an easy way to fix them. So if you’re having trouble with your Vektra Vacuum Kettle, and it doesn’t seem to be working, please try these simple tips first:

1. The water inside is still hot
Vektra kettles have an internal thermostat, and if the water in the kettle is still boiling hot, it won’t reboil. Once it’s cooled down, it should boil again (though we recommend using the hot water inside it first!)

2. The kettle has been boiled dry
If you boiled the kettle dry at some, the safety cut-out will have kicked in. This will stop it boiling. If this is the case, it’ll need re-setting, by unplugging and leaving for an hour or two. It should work fine after that.

3. If you live in a hard water area
If you live in a hard water area, there may be a build up of scale which affects performance of the thermostat, you could try descaling it. It will work better after descaling.

If none of these work, it may be faulty, in which case, if you bought it from us and it’s within warranty, we can of course replace it quickly.

Please try the above and let us know how you get on?