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Survival Skills: Finding Tinder Part 2 – Tinder From Your Home

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November 22, 2011
Survival Skills: Finding Tinder Part 2 – Tinder From Your Home - 9

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.

Drier Lint

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.

Cotton Balls

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.

Toilet paper

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.

Gauze

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.

Tampons

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.

Cigarettes

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.

Comments (9)

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from charliedakota 8/3/2012 at 02:04am

I used bale twine, untwisted. It has water repellant oil in it and for a bigger boost, I untwisted it and dipped it in wax. This was quite a time ago but I put it in a flat cigarette tobacco can (either Velvet or Prince Albert).

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from bberg7794 3/6/2012 at 12:28pm

Great article!

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from DanC 11/28/2011 at 07:38pm

Hi Tim,
Great article. One thing that I think most people pack on trips is good old duct tape. Not only can it do every repair or fasten just about anything, but it also works as a decent firestarter once you get it lit. Nice to have dual purpose supplies in your kit.

Dan

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from T-Mac 11/28/2011 at 06:59pm

Great idea with the pencil sharpener!

Thanks for sharing QDMGuy!

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from QDMGuy 11/28/2011 at 10:06am

I find natural "fat lighter" from dead pine trees and shred the small sticks in an old pencil sharpener. It makes great home-made tinder and catches a spark quick!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from captjim 11/23/2011 at 08:37pm

I always carry a few of those hand cleaning packets they give you at the seafood restaurants. The have alcohol in them and burn very well.

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from JM1993 11/22/2011 at 11:11pm

I was thinking the same thing as "BIGJAKE" haha.

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from 23 11/22/2011 at 02:52pm

The weirdest fire starter would have been the shavings from the back of my leather belt,no dry tinder anywhere.
Now I carry the drier lint, but a little diffrently. I took a plam sized ball of lint, melted pine sap from the tree in my front yard on to it. I flattened it out and placed a coating of fresh lint over the top, wrapped it in waxed paper and then aluminum foil. It is about the size of a deck of cards but only a 1/4 inch thick. Lights great with a spark from flint and once the sap starts burning it is wind proof and burns in a light drizzle.

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from bigjake 11/22/2011 at 02:19pm

Tampons!?! really???, with so many easily obtained tinder sources do you really want to carry feminine hygene products??Try explaining its use to your buddies back at camp when a tampon rolls outta your bag.

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from bigjake 11/22/2011 at 02:19pm

Tampons!?! really???, with so many easily obtained tinder sources do you really want to carry feminine hygene products??Try explaining its use to your buddies back at camp when a tampon rolls outta your bag.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from JM1993 11/22/2011 at 11:11pm

I was thinking the same thing as "BIGJAKE" haha.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from QDMGuy 11/28/2011 at 10:06am

I find natural "fat lighter" from dead pine trees and shred the small sticks in an old pencil sharpener. It makes great home-made tinder and catches a spark quick!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from T-Mac 11/28/2011 at 06:59pm

Great idea with the pencil sharpener!

Thanks for sharing QDMGuy!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from DanC 11/28/2011 at 07:38pm

Hi Tim,
Great article. One thing that I think most people pack on trips is good old duct tape. Not only can it do every repair or fasten just about anything, but it also works as a decent firestarter once you get it lit. Nice to have dual purpose supplies in your kit.

Dan

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from 23 11/22/2011 at 02:52pm

The weirdest fire starter would have been the shavings from the back of my leather belt,no dry tinder anywhere.
Now I carry the drier lint, but a little diffrently. I took a plam sized ball of lint, melted pine sap from the tree in my front yard on to it. I flattened it out and placed a coating of fresh lint over the top, wrapped it in waxed paper and then aluminum foil. It is about the size of a deck of cards but only a 1/4 inch thick. Lights great with a spark from flint and once the sap starts burning it is wind proof and burns in a light drizzle.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from captjim 11/23/2011 at 08:37pm

I always carry a few of those hand cleaning packets they give you at the seafood restaurants. The have alcohol in them and burn very well.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from bberg7794 3/6/2012 at 12:28pm

Great article!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from charliedakota 8/3/2012 at 02:04am

I used bale twine, untwisted. It has water repellant oil in it and for a bigger boost, I untwisted it and dipped it in wax. This was quite a time ago but I put it in a flat cigarette tobacco can (either Velvet or Prince Albert).

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Write a Comment Your comment (200 characters or less):