Before I had to actually build a fire with damp wood, I thought bringing tinder with me on a camping trip, or in a bug out bag was overkill.
My thought process was "if I'm out in the woods, won't I be surrounded by it?"
The answer is yes. Unfortunately, it's a lot more time and energy consuming than it sounds. Now, I always bring a little tinder with me when I know I'm going to need a fire, and it makes the process a thousand times faster and easier. For these flammable survival hacks, you won't have to leave your home.
5 Household Items That Make Great Fire Starter Tinder
1. Dryer Lint
Everybody can collect it for free, and even get it from the bottom of your pockets in a pinch. It’s light, compressible, and burns like crazy. Drawbacks are that it really must be dry and lint from some clothes (synthetics) does not burn well.
Natural Clothing which makes good tinder lint
Stay away from lint made from
- Polyester is the worst fabric you can buy. It is made from synthetic polymers that are made from esters of dihydric alcohol and terephthalic acid.
- Acrylic fabrics are polyacrylonitriles and may cause cancer, according to the EPA.
- Rayon is recycled wood pulp that must be treated with chemicals like caustic soda, ammonia, acetone and sulphuric acid to survive regular washing and wearing.
- Acetate and Triacetate are made from wood fibers called cellulose and undergo extensive chemical processing to produce the finished product.
- Nylon is made from petroleum and is often given a permanent chemical finish that can be harmful.
- Anything static resistant, stain resistant, permanent press, wrinkle-free, stain proof or moth repellant. Many of the stain resistant and wrinkle-free fabrics are treated with perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs), like Teflon.
2. Cotton Balls and Vaseline
Cotton balls by themselves are great for tinder. The fine fibers ignite easily and you'll get a quick flame. Adding vaseline, however, adds a whole new level of heat to your flame. It's also a bonus when trying to start a fire when it's damp.
3. Pencil Sharpener Shavings
Before you toss those pencil sharpener shavings in the trash, consider putting them in a plastic bag or waterproof container. Getting wood into very thin slivers helps it ignite much easier.
4. Dry Saw Dust
If you work with wood or know someone in construction, you'll know how much of a pain this stuff is when it's time to clean up. Consider saving your sawdust in the future, as it's even finer than pencil shavings.
Better yet, if you need to cut any branches when making your camp, just catch the sawdust as you make it.
Tampons also make for good fire tinder because they are basically just compact cotton balls which you can pull apart and will start quickly. You can dunk these in petroleum jelly for a hotter burn as well. And lastly, they come in their own waterproof holder.
What other household items can be used for tinder?