Fire lighting and campfire cooking can be a wonderful part of the outdoor experience for Early Years and Primary school children. The Dragons Sneeze is a fire steel & striker we designed and created especially for Forest School groups and practitioners - easy for all ages and abilities to make the perfect spark. Find out how and why the Dragons Sneeze became...
Liz Edwards, founder & director of Muddy Faces, introduces the Dragons Sneeze
(you'll find a video of Liz telling this story below)
What prompted the design of the Dragons Sneeze?
"I had been chatting to a lady with osteoporosis who had struggled to hold a standard fire flint, and this got me thinking. So I designed a system that created two chunky handles that were easy to hold. As Muddy Faces is based in Sheffield, it was ideal for sourcing a fantastic, quality hardened-steel blade for the striker. I sent her my prototype and she said she found it worked really well and was easy to use. I thought if it helped her, surely it would be useful for others. I certainly hadn’t expected how well received it would be.
How did you come up with the name?
"We ran a competition in 2017, asking our customers for suggestions to name our new, innovative designed fire steel and striker. Four people suggested the Dragons Sneeze. We thought the action of a sneeze as quick, powerful and sometimes surprising, was just like the spark created when you strike our steel, and we liked the name! So it was decided and we sent the competition winner a Dragons Sneeze plus some other bits to get their fire started.
Who is the sneeze for?
"I think it’s really handy for all practitioners to have at least one Dragons Sneeze in their kit. It offers an alternative action to the traditional fire flints and it seems that most people can master it easily, allowing success for each individual in a group.
What exactly is a Dragons Sneeze?
"The fire steels are made from a premium quality ferrous rod manufactured in Europe, and the fire striker has a hardened steel blade made in the UK. Both steel and striker have chunky ergonomic wooden handles making them easier to use, the handles are turned in the UK. They are attached by a brightly coloured lanyard to help locate the flint in a natural setting. The lanyard gives a greater range of movement than conventional fire steel systems."
The legend of the Dragons Sneeze
This video was made by Muddy Faces founder Liz Edwards' two sons during lockdown 2020 - sit down with a hot chocolate and immerse yourself in the story!
One of the wonderful things about the Dragons Sneeze is how it gets integrated into each setting in which it is used - children and grown ups create their own mythologies for how the Dragons Sneeze became.
Video: Liz's son interviews her about the Dragons Sneeze
(2 mins 27)
Dragons Sneeze review
I run Forest School sessions for adults with ASD & Learning Disabilities. Lighting fires is an activity which my learners find very rewarding but unfortunately some of the people who attend struggled to use fire steels.
Muddy Faces advised me to try their Dragon's Sneeze fire steels which are more suitable for people who find fine motor tasks difficult.
They're brilliant! Learners who previously couldn't light fires can now enjoy doing so. Muddy Faces practical advice and knowledge of how to make accommodations to ensure inclusive practice have definitely helped me to improve my sessions.
Michael James, author of Forest School and Autism
Video: Dragons Sneeze in action
Stephen Simpson from Forest Schooling UK shared this wonderful video of a Dragon's Sneeze in action - we love Malek's reaction when he creates his first spark!
If you want a fire or campfire cooking at your outdoor setting or Forest School you'll need a spark! The Dragons' Sneeze is the perfect tool to start you off. But where did the Dragons Sneeze come from? Find out with these origin stories of how the Dragons Sneeze became - as told to us by our amazingly creative customers!
Cooking and eating in the open air are part of life’s simple pleasures and an essential part of outdoor sessions. Yet a focus on snacks and food has not had the attention it deserves. It’s time to think more deeply about the role of snack time for physical and mental health and wellbeing.
In this extended article, which first appeared in our free Outdoor Practitioner magazine Health & Wellbeing issue #4, Dr Mel McCree makes a case for inclusive practice for nurture through food and nutrition.