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Homemade Fire Starter For Camping

Updated on April 10, 2014

If you spend a lot of time camping and backpacking, there are probably times when you find yourself craving a nice warm fire. To me, it almost doesn't seem like camping without a camp fire. The flickering of light makes an excellent setting for winding down at the end of the day and chatting with your friends or family. Plus, who wouldn't want some S'mores, cooked fresh at the camp fire. For kids that is almost always the highlight of the camping trip, a nice, hot, gooey snack before bed time. But getting that fire started isn't always easy. Sure, you could just use some extra gasoline or white gas like some people I know, but to me it is much more rewarding to get that fire started on your own. With a plethora of fire starting materials available on the market, I'll introduce you to a free one that you probably already have at home.

Get your own campfire started
Get your own campfire started | Source

Cheap Plentiful Fire Starter

If you own a dryer, then you already have a source of cheap, plentiful, effective fire starter. Dryer lint is a pain for most of us, you have to remember to empty for each load, or at least that's what you are supposed to do, a lot of us wait and empty it every couple loads. From now on, when you empty the lint out of the lint trap, place it in a coffee can or gallon size Ziploc bag. From there you can separate it into smaller bags as necessary.

The lint that you pull out of your dryer is light weight, flammable fibers of your clothing. Unless you wash a lot of fire retardant clothing, such as Nomex, it is likely that the lint from your clothing is quite flammable. Check out the video I made below to illustrate just how well the lint will burn.

Taking It Camping

The great thing about the dryer lint is that it is very light weight and can be compressed easily. You can take quite a lot of the lint, stuff it into a sandwich sized bag and throw it in your back pack. It won't add much weight for you to carry and once you are ready to start your camp fire you can pull some out, "fluff it" so that it will burn better and add it to your fire.

You will still want to find dry twigs and sticks for your fire, but the lint will make it easier to get your fire started, without having to bring a bunch of newspaper to get it going. Use as much, or as little lint as you need to get the fire started. Since you are able to pack so much of it into a bag, you should be able bring enough with you to make several fires over a multi-day trip.

Store Bought Fire Starter

While not a huge retail market, there are a number of products that you can by through stores to help get your fire started. Many of these involve metals or chemicals, such as magnesium. When these are ignited, they burn hot enough that you will most likely get your fire started even when the wood is wet. There are also matches that are specifically made to be wind or water resistant.

The store bought products are certainly more expensive than my method, but that doesn't mean you should discount them completely. The weather resistant matches and magnesium shavings could help you start a fire in wet or windy conditions that you couldn't otherwise start a fire. If you backpack or camp a lot you should have some basic survival items that you carry with you at all times. Add these items to your kit and don't use them without replacing them.

I typically carry regular wooden matches and some lint fire starter as my main sources, plus add some weather resistant matches as a back up that don't get used unless I really need them.

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    • Adventure Colorad profile image

      Adventure Colorad 6 years ago from Denver,CO

      There is a use for just about anything if you look hard enough... Thanks for reading, glad you enjoyed it!

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 6 years ago from the short journey

      Just today I was thinking that dryer lint must be useful for something, maybe for birds' nests, and here you have it. Neat stuff, this fluff!