Fire Starter Tips

Not all of us want to spend our life savings on cool expensive gear, so here are some simple tips for making your own fire starters.

To start with here are some simple ideas for tinder (a very important part in being able to start a fire). Get a few cotton balls and some Vaseline or triple antibiotic ointment.  Thin out the cotton ball and then begin working in some of the ointment. Mix the two together until the cotton ball is coated well. Now just compact it and put it in a baggy or some other container until you’re ready to use it. When you’re ready to use the cotton ball fire starter just fluff it up and either light it with a match, lighter or fire steel. The cotton ball will burn much longer with the ointment on it than without. If you used triple antibiotic ointment then it can double as a first aid item as well. I love multi -purpose items!

Lint from your dryer makes a great fire starter. Even better would be to take the cardboard roll from a roll of toilet paper and stuff it full of dryer lint. Now just tape off both ends of the roll and you’re good to go. You now have a perfect lightweight fire starter log. You could also store a striker and fire steel rod inside the tube with the dryer lint. This would give you a complete fire starting kit that you could just keep in your backpack until you’re ready to use it.

Some other cheap, lightweight and simple items that you could carry are a crayon, chapstick, saw dust, candle and any piece of wax left from used candles. All of these will aid in trying to get a fire started and you can even use the crayon as a small candle. The chapstick can also be used to lubricate zippers.

You can easily make your very own fire steel rod and striker set. Fire steel rods can be purchased on eBay very easily and much cheaper than buying a pre-made kit. Order whatever size fire steel you would like, then either cut a small piece of deer antler, find a small piece of wood or wooden dowel big enough to hold onto and big enough to drill out for the fire steel rod to be glued into. Next, drill halfway into whatever material you are using for the handle using a drill bit that is the same size as your fire steel. A drill press would work easier but I have done it with a simple cordless screw gun. Now test fit the rod into the hole. If it fits perfectly you are set to glue it up. If it is to tight just ream the hole out a little bit. Not too much though. You are all set to glue the two pieces together now. You can use superglue, wood glue, gorilla glue or epoxy. Whatever you have should work fine. Put some adhesive in the hole and some on the rod and then insert the fire steel into the drilled out hole. Let it dry and now you have your very own inexpensive fire steel.

I also like to drill a small hole at the top of the handle so that I can run a 27” piece of 550 Paracord threw the hole and wear it around my neck. I also add a plastic breakaway clasp and a P-51 can opener. That way I have a striker, can opener and small blade.

These are just a few simple ideas when it comes to fire starters. Feel free to try any of these things at your own risk and let me know how you made out. Let me know if you have any questions or any of your own ideas for cheap simple fire starting material. I hope you like some of these ideas and that they get your mind thinking about what other items you may be able to repurpose or even make yourself.

4 thoughts on “Fire Starter Tips

  1. I carry a 3 oz bottle of olive oil for adding to dehydrated meals and for cooking fresh caught fish, but olive oil is a great lamp fuel. Added to a tuft of dryer lint (or a strip of cloth ripped from your shirt in an emergency) it burns long enough to start drying out wet tinder. I almost never build a fire unless I’m cooking fish, but being able to build one when needed is essential.

    • Great uses for olive oil. I rarely start fires when backpacking/hiking as well. Generally it’s just when I’m practicing my fire starting skills or camping in an area for a prolonged period of time.

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