Make your own Tinder

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transferred fire from one place to another using touchwood.

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Make your own tinder

Tinder is the fluffy stuff that ignites easily with a spark.
It all starts with a spark and tinder ~ add some kindling, then a
log, and soon you'll have people huddled around your camp fire
or the camp chef can begin the delicious meal prepared over
open flames.

Don't confuse tinder with kindling or an accelerent.
  • Tinder is the stuff that ignites easily with a spark ~ it's
    the fluffy, furry and fuzzy-light material you'll find in
    nature or the shavings you make to catch your spark;
  • Kindling is the next phase to build your fire such as small
    sticks and twigs.
  • An accelerant is a substance used to help spread the fire,
    and is usually a cross between tinder and fuel. Commercial
    "firestarters" such as WetFire, technically is an accelerant
    and not a firestarter. In nature, think pine sap.
  • A firestarter is the device to ignite the spark, like a match.

Pioneers carried a tinder box, and Native Americans used
touchwood and other techniques described below to help them
make a campfire at the next location. Today you can buy
commercially produced "firestarters" (acelerants) like
or you can make your own tinder, or find good tinder sources
and acelerants out in the wilderness...

How to make your own fire tinder
Perhaps the most common form of tinder at the turn of the
century was the newspaper, but since we've moved to a digital
society and stopped cutting down so many trees for
newspapers, what's a prepper to do for tinder?

Below are some ideas on how to make your own fire tinder:

Tinder idea #1: Pencil and a pencil sharpener.
Get out your #2 pencils, as you're about to have the greatest
test of your life: survival! The cedar from a pencil will make
excellent tinder and to get good use of it, you need only a
pencil and a pencil sharpener to shave away the ideal tinder.

Bear Grills Tinderbox, right in orange, is better than a
pencil sharpener but has the same concept. The grater-like
steel cutting surface creates fine tinder when applied to wood.
The Tinderbox works as well with wet wood as with dry,
because the grating surface simply shaves off the wet outer
layers to expose the dry interior.

After shaving wood into the Tinderbox, the cutter opens to
allow easy removal of the tinder that's been created. At the
point of prepping to build a fire, empty the dry tinder contents
of the Tinderbox onto the desired surface of collected items to
be burned.

Its a great tool, but don't tart a fire in the Tinderbox. Place the
plastic cover over the cutting surface when not in use to
provide protection in a pocket or gear bag. The Tinderbox's
attached magnifying glass can be used for a spark to ignite the
gathered tinder if matches are wet, or worse, unavailable. An
emergency signaling mirror is located on the bottom of the
Tinderbox, because even getting a fire started doesn't equate
to finding an escape route.

Tinder idea #2: Cotton balls and Vaseline.
A classic tinder made at home is to soak cotton balls in
Vaseline / petroleum jelly. Remember that lip balm contains
petroleum jelly (Vaseline) and can be a good source of fuel with
your tinder. The Vaseline, Chapstick, or other lip balm is the
accelerant and the cotton is the tinder.

Here's an interesting way to store cotton balls. Use a drinking
Above, Grant Thompson, the shares a simple
firestarting method using a gum wrapper.

Tinder idea #9: Buffalo dung and dried grass.
Okay, this idea isn't very practical, but it's good to know:
buffalo dung and cow dung is an excellent fuel.

Pioneers along the Oregon Trail lit their fire pits with dried
buffalo dung. This combustible biomass comes thanks to the
prairie grass buffalo consumed. If it's within reach, consider
starting a fire with dried cow dung. As cows are vegetarian, you
won't find dung foul smelling at all. It's the meat eaters who
produce the unpleasantries.

Pioneer kids were responsible for collecting "Buffalo Chip"
(dung) along the Oregon Trail. To help pass the time, kids
found pleasure in tossing them around like Frisbees. The kids in
your group can help collect dung for your fuel. You'll need to
provide them with work gloves and garbage bags for collection.
Instruct them to scavenge for the dried dung or you'll need to
add the extra step of drying them. Dried dung will crumble when
you crack it open. Also have kids collect equal parts of dried
grass, which will act as kindling. To build your fuel source, you'll
layer the patties with the dried grass in a fire pit. To make it
easier to light, try smearing a bit of ghee or kerosine on the
dried grass before lighting.
Learn more about the pioneers who
were indeed preppers!

Commercial tinder...
The beauty of commercial tinder is that it's virtually guaranteed
to produce a spark in the wettest and windiest conditions.

  • WetFire. Wet fire tinder is a universal lighting material
    that is safe, lightweight, and easy to carry. Guaranteed to
    light in windy or wet conditions and only requires a small
    amount of tinder to build a fire.

Commercial accelerants...

Looking for natural tinder?
Tinder is fluffy and light, but most importantly it's dry and
dead. Here are some other great natural tinder sources:
  1. bird's nest
  2. cattail seed down
  3. dead leaves (really crispy kind)
  4. dry grass
  5. dandelion that's fluffy
  6. inner bark
  7. goldenrod fluff
  8. milkweed down
  9. pine needles loaded with sap (the sap is the accelerant)
  10. pine cones
  11. weed tops
  12. touchwood (see the video below)
The video above shows how to use a drinking straw to stash tinder or
store matches for your bugout bag so they stay dry.

Tinder idea #3: Cotton pads + wax.
One grade up from the petroleum jelly idea is to melt wax with
cotton pads. You won't have a greasy mess, like you will with
the Vasoline, but it requires a little more work to make.

While you can use any kind of candle wax, or wax from crayons,
Parowax a clean solution. To make this tinder, melt parowax
and dip flat cotton pads into the wax. Then allow to dry and you
have a compact firestarter. Cotton is the tinder, while wax is
the accelerant.

Tinder idea #4: Pinecones + wax.
Both pinecones and pine needles are an excellent source of
natural tinder. Pine sap also will help you get a flame once you
have a spark. Here again, the pincone is the tinder, and the
wax is the accelerant.

A wonderful prepper project is to dip pinecones in wax. Not only
will they look nice by your mantel, but you'll have an excellent
smelling source of tinder with you.

Tinder idea #5: Tampons.
A tampon has several survival uses including helping you light a
fire. Contained in plastic shell is a combustible material. Fluffed
up, an unused tampon is a good emergency tinder. Extract the
compressed contents and use just a small portion and save the
rest for later. Come on baby, light my fire! The tube itself has
other values to preppers.

    *Cody Lundin would have you drinking water from it as a filter, but we say no!
    The fibers are toxic.

Tinder idea #6: Lint in a Toilet Paper Tube.
Frugal preppers have made an art of collecting lint and filling
empty toilet paper tubes with the fluffy tinder. (The artful
portion comes with some brown craft paper and twine to wrap
them like candies.) To use, unwrap and build a tinder nest with
the lint on top of the paper. Light the fire and use the
cardboard paper tube as kindling for your fuel.

Tinder idea #7: Steel wool.
There are many ways you can start a fire using sparks you can
get from a 9-volt battery. It's crazy cool to tap a 9-volt battery
steel wool and it ignites and you have an instant fire. The
steel wool acts as a tinder and an accelerant.

The video below is from a "Doomsday Prepper" you'll recognize
Engineer775). Subscribe to his YouTube Channel and visit his
Web site at!
Above, Scott Hunt of Practical Preppers, previously consultant to National
Geographic's Doomsday Preppers, shows how to ignite with steel wool and
a battery.

Tinder idea #8: Batteries + a foil gum wrapper.
Another way to improvise and catch a spark from a battery is
with the help of a chewing gum wrapper! The combination of
the foil wrapper acts as a cross between tinder and an

It is an incredible idea. Watch this quick video to see how a
gum wrapper and a battery can help you light a fire. It's just
another strange way to start a fire.
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