By Tara Dodrill
Everyone needs to learn how to start a fire and pack lightweight materials in their bugout bag or get home bag to help accomplish the task. A fire will keep frostbite from occurring, allow you to cook what you trapped or shot while hiking home through the woods after disaster, and can be used to purify water for drinking or medical treatment. Rubbing two sticks together obviously works, but is not as easy to do as it looks in the movies. Matches and lighters are great, until they get wet, break, get lost, or it is very windy outside.
Top 12 Fire Starters
1. Save your dryer lint and wrap it like a piece of candy inside a five inch strip of wax paper. Twist the tightly or even secure with a piece of string to keep the dryer lint inside. Simply place the fire starter in the middle of some twigs or inside a teepee made with twigs and get a fire going quickly. Toilet paper rolls with the ends turned in to secure the dryer lint can be used in place of the wax paper to make the project even more economical.
2. If twigs are not available to serve as tinder to help get a fire going, dry leaves, bark, or cloth torn off a piece of clothing will also get a flame to appear in rapid fashion. To increase the speed and intensity of the firestarter, dip the material in some rubbing alcohol from your first aid kit.
3. Purchase some wax from a hobby store, or grab a candle from the dollar store to make this tiny yet powerful fire starter. Melt the wax/candle and dip a cotton pad into the hot liquid. A scrap piece of a flannel shirt, old pair of jeans, or cotton bandage pad all work excellently for this fire starter project. After dipping the cotton pad into the hot wax just long enough to make sure it is thoroughly coated, lift it out and place it on a piece of wax paper to dry. The wax chips can be used in the same manner as the lint wrappers to start a fire, or tossed in once it is going to create a bigger flame for warmth or cooking.
4. The wax firestarter process can be also used with 4X4 squares of cardboard from shipping boxes or grocery store packaging and cardboard egg cartons. Simply melt the remains of a candle, whole candle, or broken crayons and pour the hot liquid into the egg cartons. Once the has hardened, cut the carton divider apart into single or double holders and put in a plastic or cloth bag for future use. The cardboard squares can be dipped into a hot pot of wax and then hung on jeans closet hangers to dry. Make sure to put a bucket or pan beneath the hangers to collect the excess wax.
5. Newspaper wraps are also a great way to give new purpose to yesterday’s news and junk mail. Roll about a page from the newspaper or flyer tightly together and secure with a piece of string. For added fire starting capabilities, dip the string ends into hot wax and allow to cool before putting the fire starters in a plastic bag for storage.
6. This fire starter is one of those great multi-purpose items for the bugout bag. Mix one-third petroleum jelly with one part turpentine and store in the plastic or glass jar the jelly was purchased int. I prefer to put my Papaw’s wonder ointment in baby food jars for the most secure storage. The wonder ointment has been used in my family to treat both human and animal wounds for decades. The turpentine heals and the jelly protects the wound from dirt and bugs – and likely helps in the healing process as well. I always take a few jars camping because it is equally amazing as both a fire starter and bug repellent. If you are out on the trail, rubbing some of the rather pungent ointment on a horses withers and rump will keep horse flies away. To use the turpentine and petroleum jelly as a fire starter smear about a quarter-size amount onto twigs, leaves, or other kindling and light. It will burn both quickly and slowly, and is less phased by wind than any other campfire helper I have ever tried.
7. Pine cones picked up along the trail are awesome fire starters on their own if they are dry. The turpentine ointment or rubbing alcohol from your first aid kit or bugout bag poured/rubbed onto even a damp pine cone will help you start a fire.
8. A chunk of common BBQ grill charcoal placed in an egg carton also makes a great firestarter. Simply light the cardboard egg carton after places it in the fire ring. To ignite the charcoal carton firestarter more quickly, squeeze a drop or two of hand sanitizer, rubbing alcohol, or bug spray onto the carton. Make sure when using accelerants to keep the face and hair as far away from the coming flames as possible.
9. Soak cotton balls in rubbing alcohol and store in a baby food jar or old film canister and place onto dry leaves or twigs to get a fire going quickly. Folks with long hair should tie it back before using this method, flames tend to appear rapidly.
10. Snack foods have also proven useful in starting a fire. Greasy treats such as Doritos Spicy Nachos, corn chips, Hot and Spicy Pringles, and other potato chip varieties have been known to help get a fire going in a fairly reasonable amount of time.
11. Antibacterial lotion, Purell brand in particular, is also a quality fire starter. The purse size containers of antibacterial lotion is light weight and should already be stored in your bugout bag, get home bag, or first aid kit. Squirt a dime size amount onto kindling in the fire ring to get a fire going – add more slowly if necessary. Due to the alcohol content, it is extremely flammable when exposed to intense heat.
12. There seems to be endless uses for Duct tape. Pull off several strips of the useful tape, squeeze an accelerant onto it, and light an end to get it burning.