Welcome to Jercol's Back to the Basics. This is where I will post useful information, tips, and gear reviews about what I learn about Outdoor Survival, Activities, and Disaster Preparation. My only goal is to be informative, realistic, and at least a little entertaining.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Fire Starter DIY

When I was in Boy Scouts we had this really easy fire starter recipe, cotton balls and vaseline.  These are pretty popular with hunters, campers, and anyone else who needs to make fire in uncertain elements.  Basically, these act like mini-lanterns, the vaseline heats up and acts like oil, then the cotton ball is like the wick that burns the oil.  They burn in almost any condition and will easily stay lit long enough to get a fire going.

A lot of people douse the cotton balls in the vaseline and then put them in an old film container or something similar.  I don't know about you but I generally don't have film containers sitting around and if one of them popped open in your bag it would be quite a mess.  So I came up with my own variation of this time tested fire starter.

Jercol's DIY Firestarter:

Paper bag
Ziploc Bags
Cotton Balls

Total cost was about $2 (I already had the Ziploc bags) and will make plenty of kits.

Cut the paper bag into three 5x6 rectangles.  The cotton balls I bought were huge so I cut them in half.

Take a cotton ball, rub it in the vaseline until it has a fairly even coat, and put it on the first piece of paper bag.  Do this six or so more times until the paper bag has a nice line length-wise.  Then roll up that piece of paper like it's a big cigar.  Some of you might have more experience at rolling than others, I don't judge.

Make another fire starter 'cigar and put both on the third piece of paper.  Then roll the paper with the two cigars inside it.  Put the whole package into a ziploc bag and you have a nice little fire starter kit.  If you want to add some rigidity you could put the cigars into a toilet paper tube, you probably have a few of those rolling around, then put it in the ziploc.

What I like about this kit, rather than the film container version, is that you have a very large number of fires you can start with it.  You've got twelve individual cotton balls, twelve fires, plus three good sized pieces of vaseline soaked paper.  Rip the paper up into some smaller pieces and you've got quite a few more fires.  Plus, with the ziploc bag (I usually double bag them), and the paper soaking up the excess, you don't need to worry as much about it spilling in your pack.  

It's a simple, cheap, and reliable fire starter kit.  Throw these in your BOB or GHB and you're ready to light the fires.


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