By Tara Dodrill
In a crisis, a fire will keep frostbite from occurring, allow you to cook what you trapped or shot, and purify water for drinking or medical treatment.
But do you know how to start a fire, even in the worst of circumstances?
Rubbing two sticks together obviously works, but is not as easy to do as it looks in the movies.
Try these 7 unique and off-grid ways to start a fire:
1. Dryer lint. Save your dryer lint and wrap it like a piece of candy inside a five inch strip of wax paper. Twist the ends tightly or secure it with a piece of string to keep the dryer lint inside. Simply place the fire starter in the middle of some twigs or inside a teepee made with twigs and get a fire going quickly. If twigs are not available, dry leaves, bark or cloth torn off a piece of clothing will also get a flame to appear in rapid fashion. Toilet paper rolls with the ends turned in to secure the dryer lint can be used in place of the wax paper.
2. Cotton balls and wax. Purchase some wax from a hobby store, or grab a candle from the dollar store to make this tiny yet powerful fire starter. Melt the wax/candle and dip a cotton pad into the hot liquid. A scrap piece of a flannel shirt, old pair of jeans, or cotton bandage pad all work excellently for this fire starter project. After dipping the cotton pad into the hot wax just long enough to make sure it is thoroughly coated, lift it out and place it on a piece of wax paper to dry. This same process can be used with 4X4 squares of cardboard from shipping boxes or grocery store packaging. The wax chips can be used in the same manner as the lint wrappers to start a fire, or tossed in to create a bigger flame for warmth or cooking.
3. Newspaper. This is a great way to give new purpose to yesterday’s news and junk mail. Roll about a page from the newspaper or flyer tightly together and secure with a piece of string. For added fire starting capabilities, dip the string ends into hot wax and allow to cool before putting the fire starters in a plastic bag for storage.
4. Turpentine and petroleum. This fire starter is one of those great multi-purpose items for the bug-out bag. Mix one-third petroleum jelly with one part turpentine and store in a plastic or glass jar. I prefer to put my Papaw’s wonder ointment in baby food jars for the most secure storage. The wonder ointment has been used in my family to treat both human and animal wounds for decades. The turpentine heals and the jelly protects the wound from dirt and bugs – and likely helps in the healing process as well. I always take a few jars camping because it is equally amazing as both a fire-starter and bug-repellent. If you are out on the trail, rubbing some of the rather pungent ointment on a horse’s withers and rump will keep horse flies away. To use the turpentine and petroleum jelly as a fire-starter, smear about a quarter-size amount onto twigs, leaves or other kindling and light. It will burn both quickly and slowly, and is less phased by wind than any other campfire helper I have ever tried.
5. Pine cones. Pine cones picked up along the trail are awesome fire-starters on their own if they are dry. The turpentine ointment or rubbing alcohol from your first-aid kit or bug-out bag poured/rubbed onto even a damp pine cone will help you start a fire.
6. Cotton balls and alcohol. Soak cotton balls in rubbing alcohol and store in a baby food jar or old film canister and place onto dry leaves or twigs to get a fire going quickly. Folks with long hair should tie it back before using this method, flames tend to appear rapidly.
7. Antibacterial lotion. The Purell brand, in particular, is also a quality fire-starter. The purse size containers of antibacterial lotion are lightweight and should already be stored in your bug-out bag, get-home bag, or first-aid kit. Squirt a dime-size amount onto kindling in the fire ring to get a fire going – add more slowly if necessary. Due to the alcohol content, it is extremely flammable when exposed to intense heat.