7 Unusual fire starters for your survival kit
By Zoey Sky // Feb 23, 2023

Fire is essential for outdoor activities like camping or bugging out because you need it to cook food and boil water for food prep or drinking. A campfire will also help you stay warm on a cold night.

If you're bugging out in an unfamiliar forest, a fire can help protect you from wild animals that may wander into your camp.

Before SHTF, learn how to use alternative fire starters like waxed string and include some in your bug-out bag so you can easily start a fire when you need one.

While you can buy ready-made fire starters, these alternatives can help you save money. These options will also be useful if you lose your gear along with your fire starting kit. (h/t to PreppersWill.com)

Alcohol wipes

Alcohol wipes contain a high percentage of alcohol, a highly flammable substance, making them a great fire starter.

To start a fire with an alcohol wipe, ignite it and use it to light your kindling. The alcohol will continue to burn for several minutes, so you have enough time to get a fire going.

Alcohol wipes are easy to carry and store. They already come in a small, compact container that you can easily store in your bug-out bag or camping gear.

Also, alcohol wipes are safe to use and do not emit any harmful chemicals or fumes so they are a safe and effective option for fire starting.

Cotton balls and petroleum jelly

Cotton balls and petroleum jelly fire starters can be prepared at home.

You may already have all the ingredients and the process is straightforward. You need cotton balls, petroleum jelly and a resealable plastic sandwich bag.

First, add a generous amount of petroleum jelly to the bottom of the plastic bag. Take a handful of cotton balls and add them to the bag.

Press the cotton balls into the petroleum jelly so each cotton ball is soaked with the jelly. This mixture will act as the main component of your fire starter.

Once the cotton balls are soaked in petroleum jelly, store the bag in an airtight container like a tin can. This ensures that if the plastic bag tears, you won't get petroleum jelly all over your other items.

Keep the petroleum jelly-soaked cotton balls in your bag.

If you don't have petroleum jelly, soak the cotton balls in baby oil instead.

If you need to use a cotton ball, fluff it up to increase its surface area then light it. Each cotton ball should burn for several minutes.

Duct tape

Duct tape is a versatile tool for your bug-out bag and when SHTF, you can also use it as a makeshift firestarter.

Duct tape burns hot and is a common material used for repairs, so you may be able to find some duct tape somewhere nearby.

A word of warning: While duct tape is an effective fire starter, it is also very dangerous to handle. As the tape burns, it will melt and if it comes into contact with your skin, it will be hard to remove and may cause severe burns.

If you have no other option but duct tape, use it very carefully to start a fire to avoid hurting yourself.

Feminine hygiene products

While an unusual choice, feminine hygiene products are one of your safer options for fire starters.

Feminine hygiene products are made with cotton so they can ignite and provide a steady flame.

Even if you don't need one, it's ideal to include a tampon or two in your fire starting kit if you prefer something absorbent and versatile. To start a fire with a tampon, fluff up the cotton inside before lighting it to increase the surface area and create a better burning experience.

The cotton will ignite quickly and produce a flame that will burn for several minutes, so you have enough time to light a fire. (Related: Firestarting tips: 5 Types of campfires and how to build them.)

Hand sanitizer

Hand sanitizer is perfect for keeping your hands clean and germ-free and it's also another great firestarter.

But as with duct tape, it's best to use a hand sanitizer with caution near an open flame. Most hand sanitizers contain a high percentage of alcohol, which is highly flammable, making them a fire hazard.

If you have hand sanitizer in your bug-out bag, keep it away from heat sources like candles, lighters or stoves.

Potato chips

Potato chips are a popular snack, but they're also a fire starter alternative when SHTF.

Snacks like potato chips and nachos contain enough oil to burn for several minutes. so you can use them as a fire starter in a pinch.

However, baked chips may not provide much fuel because they usually contain less oil.

Waxed string

Waxed string must be prepared ahead of time. To make waxed string fire starter, you need some cotton or jute twine and paraffin. You can buy twine at any hardware store.

If you don't have paraffin, check thrift stores or online stores. You can also use old crayons, but it's better to use brand-name crayons since they are made of better-quality wax.

To melt the paraffin or crayons, create a double boiler by using a cleaned-out soup can. Fill a small pan with three inches of water and heat it up.

Break up the wax into small pieces and put them into the can. Fill it about halfway.

If you're using crayons, remove the paper first.

Keep the water at just below a boil because if it gets too hot the can might bobble around too much. Use a small twig to stir the wax and break up chunks as it melts.

While waiting for the wax to melt fully, cut off a few lengths of twine about a foot or so long.

After the wax melts, dip the twine into it. Use the twig to push the twine down until it is fully immersed.

Slowly pull out the waxed twine, let it drip for a couple of seconds into the can, then lay it out on a piece of waxed paper to dry. Repeat with the rest of the twine.

When the waxed twine is dried, cut each length into smaller pieces that are at least three inches long. Store the twine in a tin box or other resealable container.

Because the twine is dipped in wax, they are almost waterproof. To use the twine, pull the end apart to fluff it up, then light it with a match. The twine will burn steadily for several minutes.

Fire starting is a crucial survival skill when SHTF. To make things easier for yourself, prepare alternative fire starters like cotton balls dipped in petroleum jelly or waxed twine so you can start a fire easily even in bad weather.

You should also practice how to use these fire starters at home so you can use them effectively when you are in a survival situation.

Watch the video below for tips on how to start a fire.

This video is from the Connor Lindeman channel on Brighteon.com.

More related stories:

Survival essentials: 6 Things to include in a survival fire starter kit.

20 Wilderness survival tips that might save your life after SHTF.

Always ready: 12 Must-have supplies to stock up on before SHTF.

Sources include:




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