Use of Torches

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Use of Torches

Postby AlberttheTeal » Jan 27, 2014 5:46 pm

This may seem like a rather silly question, however, I thought I would still inquire. I had read in the N.S.S's guide to responsible caving that one should not start a fire or smoke in a cave. Despite this, I was unsure as to the acceptability of the use of torches or candles in a cave. I understand that they most likely would provide inadequate light and would leave soot marks if touched to the walls, but I still was curious.
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Re: Use of Torches

Postby Chads93GT » Jan 27, 2014 7:56 pm

I have no problem using candles. they provide warmth when you need it (soaking wet survey) but why use a torch? We have battery operated LED's these days. we arent cavemen ;)
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Re: Use of Torches

Postby GroundquestMSA » Jan 28, 2014 1:25 pm

Many caves were originally explored with torches, candles, and lanterns. I found two very old torches left behind in the cave I just finished surveying. I'm not sure why anyone would want to use them for lighting anymore. As Chad says, many people carry a candle as an emergency heat source. Some people also use candles to mark routes (as seen when climbing over the Camps Gulf breakdown). Probably the Guide's objection to fire and smoking is a safety/environmental one. In many cases, fire in a cave can be dangerous, and most of us don't want cigarette smoke in the cave.

NSS guidelines reflect a changing set of values over time. Years ago, NSS cavers smoked in caves, and were not censured. Years ago, the NSS expedition into Crystal started a bloody big trash fire deep in the cave so they wouldn't have to haul out their junk. We all have to decide for ourselves what is acceptable, both in regard to our own personal well-being and that of the cave environment. If you want to explore a cave with torches and candles for nostalgic purposes, and feel you can safely do so, that's up to you. Realize though that any deviation from the currently stated values of the NSS will result in criticism from its members, if they find out. And if you get lost and stranded when your candles burn out, you can rightly expect ridicule from whoever reads about your rescue.
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Re: Use of Torches

Postby Leclused » Jan 29, 2014 6:38 am

see the following topic about a clean-up action in a cave; The soot in the cave came from 150 years of visiting the cave with flames (candle / torches / carbid ...)

viewtopic.php?f=15&t=14193

Scroll down and use the last link in the topic :-)
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Re: Use of Torches

Postby AlberttheTeal » Jan 29, 2014 1:06 pm

Thanks, guys. This is all very helpful information. I can see the pros and cons of their use, now that you point them out. I will be sure to think carefully before using them. :grin:
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Re: Use of Torches

Postby Shane S » Jan 29, 2014 10:41 pm

There was a very old lantern in Deatons for a long time. I always left it alone for the next person to enjoy historic despite the high number of spelunkers in that cave. I couldn't believe it had lasted so long but was by no means in working condition. But the last time I was in there two years ago someone had swiped it. :bat sticker:
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Re: Use of Torches

Postby Chads93GT » Jan 30, 2014 1:25 am

Leclused wrote:see the following topic about a clean-up action in a cave; The soot in the cave came from 150 years of visiting the cave with flames (candle / torches / carbid ...)

http://forums.caves.org/viewtopic.php?f=15&t=14193

Scroll down and use the last link in the topic :-)


wow, that was a lot of soot.

On question. could you have used a longer pressure handle? LOl that cracked me up.
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Re: Use of Torches

Postby graveleye » Jan 30, 2014 8:57 am

The melted wax from candles is extremely difficult to clean up. Asides from an emergency situation where you are using a candle to warm up, be sure to put something under it to catch the wax. Once it is dried on the cave floor or wherever, it is pretty much there for eternity.

I don't recommend candles in caves for anything other than an emergency.
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Re: Use of Torches

Postby wvuboyer » Jan 31, 2014 4:38 pm

There is at least some level of this stupidity out there. Coming out of Stillhouse a few (probably 10 now.. holy hell) years ago, we noticed a half burned torch sitting ~15 feet inside the entrance, no more than toilet paper on a stick. It was obvious whoever the Neanderthal was who tried to cave with this "torch" didn't think much beyond their desire to go into a cave. Even if this were a good idea, they didn't even know the basics of a torch. Gotta get a fuel into it to make it burn longer than a few seconds.

This is my friend Clayton doing his best impression of what they may have looked like, I happened to get the camera out and snap a shot before we exited.
https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-D7dB ... _03_06.jpg

Candles however are still carried by some in their packs, not for the purpose of light, but an emergency heat source in the case of hypothermia.
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