Sometimes it takes more than matches and kindling to start a roaring campfire. When it’s rainy, windy, or if you’re in a hurry, fire-starting can sometimes feel like a survivalist challenge. In times like this, a ready-made fire starter might be all you need. In the following list, you’ll learn about good fire starter materials and read our top ten ways to make homemade fire starters.
Saving wine corks for decor? Sooner or later, you end up with too many. Rather than tossing used corks into the trash, put them to use on your next camping trip. Start with a glass jar with a lid. (One-pint or larger.) Fill the jar with corks until they’re about two inches from the top of the jar. Pour rubbing alcohol into the jar until the corks are almost submerged. (Note: The corks will swell as they absorb the rubbing alcohol.) Use a cork or two to start your next campfire.
2. Dryer Lint
This fire-starter method requires nearly no prep. When you clean out your dryer’s lint trap, store the lint in a plastic bag with a zipper seal. Take it along on your next camping trip. The lint catches fire very easily.
3. Cotton Balls
Prep these fire-starters before you leave home. Start with one cotton ball and dab it into some petroleum jelly. Make sure the petroleum jelly gets worked into the cotton. Repeat until you have about a dozen cotton balls. Store them in a plastic bag with a zipper seal.
4. Pine Cones
Pine cones are great natural fire-starters. The trick is to use pine cones that have dried out (not cones that have recently fallen). Collect some in the fall, let them dry out over the winter, and then use them in next summer’s campfires.
5. Orange Peel
Dried orange peel burns easily and gives off a slight citrus scent. Peel an orange or two and let the peels sit in the open air until they dry out. Easy to pack and lightweight.
6. Pencil Sharpener
Though they’re in short supply these days, a handheld pencil sharpener is a quick way to produce the wood shavings you need to start a fire. Using small twigs, “sharpen” them as you would a pencil and you’ll get perfect wood shavings for tinder.
7. Hand Sanitizer
If your hand sanitizer has alcohol in it (check the label!), you can use it to help get a fire going. Squirt a little on your kindling before lighting it.
8. Coconut Oil
In warm summer weather, coconut oil will turn to liquid but it’ll still make a helpful fire-starter. When you’re ready to start you fire, place some cotton balls or cotton pads among the kindling. Then pour a little coconut oil on the cotton balls. It should light quickly and burn a bit longer than other fire-starters.
9. Wax Paper
Pack a roll of wax paper and you’ll have a ready-to-go fire-starter. For best results, tear off a piece of wax paper and crumple it into a tight ball. Repeat with a few more pieces of wax paper. Now it’s ready to light!
10. Candle Wax & Sawdust
These tried-and-true Scout fire-starters take some prep work but they’re dependable and won’t melt in the summer heat. First prep a cardboard egg carton by filling each compartment with sawdust. (You can also use dryer lint, shredded newspaper, or pencil shavings.) Using a double boiler, melt candle wax on the stove. This is a good use for the ends of old candles that no longer burn. (Some tutorials for this method recommend using a tin can for the top pot in the double boiler.) Once the wax is melted, pour it into each compartment of the egg carton until they’re filled. Let harden. When they’re set, you can either store them in the carton or remove them.