In a survival situation, fire is your life source.
This isn’t an article on building fires (that comes later!), just starting them! Before you attempt to start your fire, you should make sure that you have supplies ready to keep it going. These fire starters will afford you a longer flame time than a match to start your fire. However, they’re not going to keep you warm on a winter’s night in your shelter!
There are always new fire starters coming out in outdoor stores- stroll the aisles, and you’ll find a ton of fancy new remedies for effective fire starting. However, the following options are cheap, DIY, and you likely have them sitting around the house anyway. I also like these fire starters because they can be repurposed for other survival needs.
Add these fire starters to your survival kit when hiking or backpacking for more luck when starting fires- in any climate.
- Duct Tape
- Vaseline and cotton balls
Wad it into a ball or combine it with your tinder, and light. Easy! A loosely rolled ball of duct tape should burn long enough to dry out your materials and start a proper fire.
BONUS TIP: Don’t take a whole roll with you- Wrap layers of duct tape around a Popsicle stick and toss it in your backpack! It takes up much less space! Or wrap it around your water bottle.
Petroleum Jelly and Cotton Balls
This is probably my favourite of the DIY starters because it is so easy and lightweight! This handy trick helped me light fires in the damp Pacific climate. Before you head out, coat the cotton balls in Vaseline (petroleum jelly) and put them in a small container or plastic bag for your survival kit. You want to make sure you get as much as you can on the cotton balls, but don’t completely soak them- there should still be some dry fibres from the cotton within. They are super lightweight, and chances are you have them in your bathroom cabinet! They take literally moments to make and are perfect for your pocket kit because of their size.
The base from petroleum jelly is oil. This makes them waterproof. I wouldn’t go soaking them in water, but they’ll be successful in wet climates. The flame should keep for 4-6 minutes! Plenty of time to utilize the flame to start your fire.
BONUS TIP: Guess what could be repurposed for blister relief? 😉
Other Fire Starters
If you add these two fire starters to your survival kit, you can’t go wrong. In the past, I have also experimented with dryer lint- this being another DIY starter you can find around the house. However, I have left it out of my list for one main reason.
Vaseline and cotton balls would cost more than dryer lint (dryer lint being completely free) but are way more effective, and can start fires in any climate without regard for wind and rain. Cotton can also be fluffed up more easily- making it more flammable. Dryer lint will do in a pinch, but in general, if you have cotton balls- use cotton balls! Particularly for the ultra-lite backpacker who is trying to save all the space they can. Cotton balls can be repurposed for small injuries. I would not recommend putting dryer lint on your blisters;)
In the same way, duct tape can serve as a fire starter in tough times. It can also be repurposed for a whole host of potential uses. This is why I include it on the list! I have also heard some say to wrap dryer lint in your duct tape for easier starting. However, that would defeat any other use the duct tape might have.
I hope this post inspired you to go add some DIY materials to your survival kit, if you don’t have them already!
Do you have any suggestions for fire starters? Have you used these methods before? Comment below 🙂