The ability to start a fire during a disaster might just save your life. Protecting yourself from the elements during an emergency or on a family camping trip is essential. Frostbite can set in quickly, potentially causing the loss of fingers and toes — and could even lead to a deadly case of hypothermia.
Starting a fire in the rain, blowing wind, or amid falling snow is not an easy task. Carrying fire starters with you while camping, in an emergency kit in your car, and even on an afternoon hike out into the woods can help you get a warm flame going when facing a dire situation.
Commercially manufactured fire starters are readily available at camping stores and at big-box retailers around the country. Fire starters are not typically expensive, but it is still far cheaper to make your own.
Making homemade fire starters with your own children or a youth group preparing for a camping trip can be a valuable teachable moment. Children will learn not only how to create a vital tool with their own hands, but they can also be taught important fire safety and science lessons while discovering how kindling works and why a blaze can spread so quickly in the woods.
As Love the Outdoors notes, always make sure to dig a pit or use rocks to build a fire ring boundary for your camping or emergency fire. Even in wet conditions, fires can grow out of control quickly.
Starting a fire can be done the very old-fashioned way, without matches, but doing so definitely requires a lot of patience.
“The first option is with a magnesium and flint block. Take your knife and scrape a pile of magnesium shavings onto the tinder and then strike a spark off the flint with your knife. The magnesium will ignite and hopefully start a flame in your tinder. This is where the patience part comes in. Most of the time the magnesium will not ignite on the first attempt – or even the second or third. Don’t give up keep striking,” Survivor Jane, a renowned preparedness author and speaker, notes.
Homemade fire starters also make greatly appreciated and inexpensive gifts for the camping fans or preppers in your life. A batch of the handmade kindling placed inside a decorated mason jar or other attractive waterproof container will likely be greeted with a big smile by the gift recipient.
Top 5 Homemade Fire Starters
- Mop Head Fire Starters — Simply cut about a strand from a new cotton mop head and dip the fabric into a pot of melted candle wax. Use tweezers or kitchen tongs to avoid burning your fingers. The mop strand only needs to be dipped in the hot wax for about 30 seconds to thoroughly coat the material. Place the coated strand on a cooling rack and allow it to dry and cool completely before placing it into a storage container.
- Strike Anywhere Match Fire Starters — Purchase a packet of strike anywhere matches and submerge the entire match into a pot of melted candle wax. Using the mop head fire starter process, dip, dry, and store the matches. The wax coating makes the match virtually waterproof. Before use, simply scrape the wax off of the tip of the match, strike on a rock or other firm surface, and use it to get a fire going. The wax-covered matches can also be tossed into the fire pit to help sustain or grow the flames.
- Dryer Lint Fire Starters — Save the lint from the dryer trap to use for making fire starters. Roll a small handful of dryer lint into an oblong shape and wrap it with wax paper. Twist the ends of the wax paper and tie each shut with a piece of string – it should resemble a piece of candy inside of a wrapper. Store in a baggie or other fairly waterproof container until needed to use as kindling.
- Turpentine and Petroleum Jelly Fire Starters — Mix together three parts petroleum jelly and one part turpentine and store in an airtight container. The highly flammable mixture can be spread on a stick, paper plate, or any other item which can be safely be placed into a fire ring and then used as kindling.
- Charcoal Bits Fire Starters — Place one solid piece of charcoal or smaller broken pieces into the pockets of an egg carton. Once all 12 sections of the carton contain charcoal, simply pour melted candle wax over the pockets until they are full. Allow the wax to dry thoroughly. The sections can be pulled apart and stored in plastic baggies or similar airtight containers or remain in carton form and pulled apart for use as desired.
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