Chances are good that you currently have a newspaper within reach at your home or cabin. If you have a stove or fireplace, or just build a lot of campfires, chances are also good that you know how effective the black and white pages of newsprint can be at starting fires, both at home and in the field.
But what about the rest of the stuff at home? What other items that you’d be willing to burn could be useful in the task of fire building?
Here are a few you’ll know well, and a few you may want to try out.
1. Crumpled Paper Products: Newspaper, paper towels, toilet paper, and scrap paper are go-to items for starting wood stoves and fireplaces. A dry bit of paper can be a lifesaver in campfire building as well. Bonus survival use: Crumpled balls of paper make good insulation if stuffed into your clothing.
2. Cotton Gauze: Raiding the first aid kit for tinder is a sure sign that you’re in an ugly situation. Paper-wrapped cotton gauze is there as a wound dressing, but it’s also very flammable.
3. Tampons: Cotton fiber feminine products serve both hygiene and medical purposes, and when ripped apart they make a great tinder.
4. Plant-Based Cloth: Any dry cotton, linen, or other plant-fiber clothing or cloth can be burned in a pinch. You won’t want to waste cloth if you are in the outdoors and your supply is limited, though. Tear off strips to burn, rather than using the whole item at once.
5. Dryer Lint: This dusty fluff is explosively flammable when it consists entirely of cotton fibers. Just keep it dry and it will light with sparks or an open flame.
6. Wood Shavings: While saw dust is flammable, a small pile of wood shavings will have a looser structure and a better surface-to-air ratio for combustion. If you are a woodworker, save some shavings to build your next fire.
7. Greasy Chips and Snacks: Fritos are not only a delicious snack with lots of calories, but they are a surprisingly good fire starter, as well. Just apply an open flame to the edge of any fatty chip and watch it burn like a torch. Most any chips you have in the cupboard will work.
8. Cardboard: This one is simple enough, but it can also be improved. Soak a little melted wax or grease into the cardboard for a better burn time. The wax will also provide some waterproofing.
9. Plastic Fiber Cloth and Rope: Unless the item has been treated with some flame retardant, plastic ropes and cloth will burn when exposed to an open flame.
10. Cotton Balls: Either dry cotton balls or ones soaked in petroleum jelly will make a great fire starter. The dry ones will burn for 20 seconds or so. Greased-up cotton balls will burn up to 5 minutes.
Tell us about your most creative moment with fire starting in the comments.