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How to Make Cheap Fire Starters for Backpacking

Updated on January 14, 2012


1. A pack of cotton balls

2. A container of pure petroleum jelly

3. Zip-lock bags

Waterproof Fire Starters

Take a cotton ball and cover it completely in the petroleum jelly. Make as many as you need, but you will probably need 3 to 4 when you hit the trail or more for an emergency kit. Store them in ziplock bags so that you don't end up messing up all your gear.

Light a fire with these by just putting them under your kindling and lighting them with a match or windproof lighter. These things can be lit in rain, snow, wind, or apocalypse! They just burst into flames and burn strong and pretty long.

Remember, never make a fire in the wilderness unless in designated areas or when you absolutely need to because of safety issues.


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    • traildudes profile image

      traildudes 4 years ago from Portland, OR

      Cool info. This will definitely come in handy!

    • profile image

      Aaron M. 4 years ago

      Be careful using dryer lint. The flame you get can be very inconsistent due to the various types of materials found in clothing. Cotton is safer and more reliable. 1/4 of a Vaseline soaked cotton ball is enough to light all but the wettest tinder.

    • TheEpicJourney profile image

      TheEpicJourney 6 years ago from Fairfield, Ohio

      I didn't know using the petroleum jelly would make the cotton weatherproof! That's really good to know. It makes sense but I hadn't thought of it. Something I bring everytime I go backpacking for my emergency fire-starter is the dryer lint from our machine! I'd imagine its much the same as cotton balls. I just collect it every time we clean out the lint, throw it in a zip-lock bag and then grab the bag when we go out. Like you said, it burns hot and for a long time, long enough to start even wet twigs into a good fire. I think I'm going to try putting the petroleum on it though, thanks!