Survival will depend on your ability to start a fire, regardless of outdoor temperature. A fire will obviously prevent frostbite from occurring, but it also allows you to cook meat, fish, or foraged plants and can be used to purify water for drinking or medical treatment. Rubbing two sticks together will work, but it is time consuming and definitely not as simple as it looks on television. Matches and lighters are great, until they get wet, break, get lost, or it is very windy outside.
Top 7 Fire Starters
- 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. If twigs are not available, dry leaves, bark, or cloth torn off a piece of clothing will also get a flame to appear in rapid fashion. 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.
- 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. This same process can be used with 4X4 squares of cardboard from shipping boxes or grocery store packaging. 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 in. The turpentine heals and the jelly protects the wound from dirt and bugs and likely helps in the healing process as well. 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.