November 22, 2011
Survival Skills: Finding Tinder Part 2 – Tinder From Your Home - 9
by Tim MacWelch
You’ve probably heard about drier lint and cotton balls for tinder. But are these the best materials that your home has to offer?
In the last post on tinder from the wild, we looked at grass, leaves, pine needles, tree bark, weed fluff and wood shavings as tinder. So in the same line of thinking--looking for dry, fluffy plant-based material--what would be good to take out into the field to get a fire going when the chips are down? Here are six of the best options.
A load of cotton clothes, while a terrible choice for wet weather outdoor clothing, can be a source for a very fiery fluff in the form of drier lint. Clean the screen and store this “grey gold” in a waterproof bag or a jar, to help you light fires with open flames and spark based methods. Just make sure you have courser material handy to keep burning when the lint is all burned up.
These are tried and true fire making helpers, when used right from the bag or when soaked in petroleum jelly. The dry cotton balls burn up easily, but very quickly (about 30 seconds). For a longer burn, melt a little Vaseline (or any other petroleum jelly) and dip your cotton balls in the liquid. After a quick dip, set them aside to cool back into a solid. Keep them in a water tight jar in case they melt. Pull them apart when it’s time to start a fire with sparks, or leave them whole if you are applying an open flame. Each PJB (Petroleum Jelly Ball) should burn for about five minutes.
Ah, so may important uses. A little TP can help get a fire going, especially if a little oil, wax or grease is soaked into it. Paper towels are just as good. Shred any paper goods like this for better lighting, if no oils or wax are used in tandem with the paper.
Your first aid kit is bursting with tinder in the form of gauze. Both the paper wrapper and the cotton gauze itself are good tinder, in addition to helping out in medical emergencies.
Sure, there’s the obvious use. I am also told that they fit nicely in a bullet wound. But you can also light the cotton variety after tearing them apart. You might also have some packaging and cardboard with the thing that will also burn.
Burn ‘em if you’ve got ‘em. While smokes tend to smolder instead of flaming up, they do a great job of smoldering to get other materials burning. Try lighting them with a magnifying glass, or even the mirrored cup from a flashlight, then lighting other tinder into flame.
So what’s the pecking order?
Well, if we had to rate them, my top pick is the cotton ball. With or without the petroleum jelly, it’s the best burning one in the bunch in my experience. My next pick would be the gauze with a paper wrapper, then the drier lint, the toilet paper, the “tamps” and finally the cigarettes.
Tell us in the comments about the weirdest tinder you’ve ever burned to get a fire going? Was it money, movie tickets, or your sock? Don’t be shy.
We won’t judge.