rediscovered a great fire starter

11:22 a.m. on January 3, 2010 (EST)
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Me and a buddie had packed in to some government land to hunt this weekend, we pack in further than anyone and see no one. Everything is wet from the snow, sleet and rain we have had this past week, Ken discovered he forgot the fire starters! We took a travel roll of toilet paper left it in the wrapper, cut the end out, and soaked it with white-gas. Placed it in the fire and lit her up! worked like a champ!

12:11 p.m. on January 3, 2010 (EST)
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Welcome tdaward,

I've never had a perfect trip, there always seems to be some problem solving involved at some point. I tend to think that makes the trip more interesting & memorable sometimes, and then sometimes your kicking yourself.

In any event, it sounds like you guys had a good trip, travel safe.

See ya around

1:47 p.m. on January 3, 2010 (EST)
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I like dryer lint in the ol zip-loc. It weighs next to nothing. I also keep fatwood in the pack with a firesteel. I never take it out so I never have to worry about it not being there.

1:15 p.m. on January 4, 2010 (EST)
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I did that toilet paper roll trick once myself. I was high in the Sierra Nevada Range in midwinter and all the wood I could find was wet. I had a MSR stove with me so I used the white gas to soak the toilet paper roll and put it on the bottom, added the wood and lit the paper. It burned for about a half hour before the TP was totally consumed and the wood dried out enough to burn.

1:31 p.m. on January 4, 2010 (EST)
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I second the dryer lint in a ziploc, works great.

8:35 p.m. on January 10, 2010 (EST)
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I use firesteel from and it is without a doubt the best. It comes in different lengths and sizes. I use mainly cotton balls with vasilene and sometimes dryer lent. both work very well! They have never failed me yet.

9:54 p.m. on January 10, 2010 (EST)
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Don't forget....

pine sap

hand sanitizer


that boring book you thought you would read along the way.

2:18 p.m. on January 11, 2010 (EST)
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trouthunter great mentions, hey question for ya. How are the FSN's workin out for ya? I was lookin at them for summer use. Yes I swear by my FGLs but once in a while we get temps in the 90s+ and would opt for something breathable with support. I was also looking at the Vasque Breeze but somewhat question their durability.

5:22 p.m. on January 11, 2010 (EST)
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trouthunter great mentions, hey question for ya. How are the FSN's workin out for ya? I was lookin at them for summer use. Yes I swear by my FGLs but once in a while we get temps in the 90s+ and would opt for something breathable with support. I was also looking at the Vasque Breeze but somewhat question their durability.

Hey Rick,

The Asolo FSN's are okay, they are supportive enough for day hiking. Even though they were marketed as lightweight backpacking boots, I would not use them for that myself. I thought they ran a bit narrow in fit, they are gore-tex which I find hotter than standard boots.

All in all, they are light, supportive, and a good deal IF they fit your foot, AND you don't pay full retail, I don't feel they are worth full price.

I would expect the Asolo FSN's to be a two year boot with moderate use.

5:33 a.m. on January 12, 2010 (EST)
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I shop "around" alot. Retail? Never.

5:31 p.m. on January 12, 2010 (EST)
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We have tried cotton wool balls rubbed in petroleum jelly (call it Vaseline here in Oz) that has been stored in an empty film cannister.

It is messy to get organised but you basically rub vaseleine over as many cotton wool balls as you can pack in the cannister. When you come to light the fire get your self organised with varying grades of wood or tinder and "fluff up" 2-3 balls. Light em and away you go,

The petroleum jelly creates a long burn time. Usually enough to get a fire going. btw, many (most) places we hike are Fuel Stove Areas only so the need to start a fire is minimal. They are handy in huts where there are coal stoves.

10:47 p.m. on January 13, 2010 (EST)
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I am packing a bic lighter, wax matches, a fire piston & char cloth, dryer lint, two different fresnel lens and a magnifying glass. It all weighs almost nothing. I may dump the magnifying glass as the fresnel is the perfect fire starter during the day.

10:56 a.m. on January 14, 2010 (EST)
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Duck tape is awesome to start fires and easily found on your stuff.

5:11 p.m. on January 14, 2010 (EST)
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Had an old flannel shirt that was past worn out and had only sentimental value. I put it in family oven and 'cooked' it on as high a setting as I could without setting it afire. I guess that is what is mentioned as char cloth. Torn apart carefully fluffed and kept dry it was almost like gun powder.

In Boy Scouts it started with a single steel stroke on flint. Won first place in fire starting for most of my scouting years.

Stove fuel is much more efficient and less time consuming to make.

2:30 a.m. on January 17, 2010 (EST)
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Dryer lint+carefully melted wax from an old candle+a cotton string for wick=a failsafe firestarter. I use LOT of wax to keep it burning. One can adjust the size of the ball, too. I like to flatten them a bit for stability, and make sure the "wick" is soaked in wax to waterproof.

I was trying to through hike the Olympics in November style downpour in July. Didn't make it through, but the starters worked on EVERY fire.

4:00 p.m. on February 4, 2010 (EST)
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I love the dryer lint. The best part is the price! I pack it into a pill bottle and squirt some Zippo fluid on it. In a pinch I've also used a Qtip smeared with Chapstick or an alcohol pad from the first aid kit.

6:37 p.m. on February 4, 2010 (EST)
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The Chapstick thing works very well. I've used it on lint scrapings from cotton, such as from a t-shirt or jeans, and then a spark from a flint.

5:08 a.m. on February 5, 2010 (EST)
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I really want to try the potassium permangenate + Glycerol method that is in all the survivor mags, but I just don't really see the big advantage to it over a classic bic :)

Bic and some alcohol has always worked for me. I carry a few 50 ml Sarstedt tubes with 100% ethanol for the trangia, and usually use a splash to start a fire if it's needed (if it's wet or very cold). Slicing up a log with a Morakniv first supplies the kindling.

Then I also have an IMCO lighter as a backup for the bic, (actually more like the bic is the backup to the IMCO). It runs on the same petrol I use for the omnifuel stove.

I got the IMCO just for kicks because it cost so little, and it turned out to be the best lighter I've ever used. I liked Zippos but they always got dry so quickly. The IMCO lasts for weeks on a refill, doesn't seem to leak gas at all as bad as the Zippo. And it's much nicer construction, it seems to be built like a rifle. And the centre of the lighter can be taken out and used as an impromptu candle if need be.

I've heard they were originally made in WW1 as a trench lighter from spent brass casings, but have no idea how true that is.

3:35 p.m. on February 6, 2010 (EST)
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I also like dryer lint and Vaseline though it is a little messy it works really well. I recently picked up some Coghlan's emergency tinder but have yet to give them a try.

2:15 a.m. on March 17, 2010 (EDT)
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Napalm. Its light, and water proof. Smells good in the morning too, or so that is what I hear...

11:35 p.m. on March 18, 2010 (EDT)
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Naw, napalm doesn't smell so great. You wouldn't like it.


12:53 p.m. on March 20, 2010 (EDT)
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using petroleum based fuel is sometimes the only way to go. As some of you know, I live in Oregon where the wood is damp and I have a snowpeak gigapower torch (flame thrower) to light campfires.

Dryer lint is only useful where the tinder is bone dry. These clever little firestarter ideas only work under certain circumstances. My point here is, take the correct tool for the job, and if you're going where its damp, have extra white gas and don't depend on dryer lint or cotton balls soaked in vasoline or even an esbit.

Jim S

7:32 p.m. on March 20, 2010 (EDT)
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It is wet in Missouri, hiking in the Ozarks, and it was really wet on the Florida Trail. I found that any old damp tinder plus hand sanitizer was sufficient to start a fire. Maybe if it is too cold that won't work. I get my tinder from scraping wet or damp wood, or gathering dead grass. The dampness is only on the outside of the leaves. But of course you should bring the right tools for the job. I always carry backups to a magnesium firestarter--windproof matches, Bic, and regular matches, lint, hand sanitizer, and wax from old candles. It all fits in a pouch I carry on my belt or around my neck.

8:32 p.m. on March 20, 2010 (EDT)
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It was on my recent backpacking trip in Oregon where I used my Snowpeak gigapower flame thrower to light a fire that my buddy failed to light with an esbit tablet AND 8 ounces of alcohol stove fuel. I know this is sort of out of the realm of conditions where most of you camp, but this was a rain forest high on the wet side of a mountain. In extrme conditions like this I think a pair of pruning sheers is a really valuable tool because you need a real pile of fuel laid in an open manner so the drying heat can easily flow up and around the fuel. (If you can cut each broken stick in half and stack it carefully you get much more surfce area in he drying column of hot air) The initial fire is really to dry the main fuel above it. My budy squirted alcohol onto the pile a few times, but the big flames were on the outside of the pile, not underneath it so they did little to dry the pile. After he gave up I lit the torch and put it so it blasted under the pile lighting the bottom wood and drying the top as the heat came up through it.

Pruning shears and torch, wow thats a lot diffeent than the old Boy Scout 2 match test,

Jim S

2:23 a.m. on April 14, 2010 (EDT)
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just used the dryer lint and a light my fire steel the other day, and it worked awsome

1:42 a.m. on May 29, 2010 (EDT)
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Something I learned in my Colorado hunter's saftey course, quite a few years ago seems to work well. Take a 9V battery and a "ball" of #0000 steel wool (stored separately!) Put the battery leads to the steel wool and you will end up with a glowing orange ball of ember-lava! Worked pretty well when in the foothills in CO during a rainstorm back in the mid-90s. Works pretty good for emergencies I would say.

I don't remember what it is called, but if you can find it, some older military surplus stuff designed for emergency fire starting. It is in the military gray-foil packets and if I remember correctly is a purplish powder. I remember seeing a guy using that and getting wet wood burning in the same rainstorm.


11:06 p.m. on May 29, 2010 (EDT)
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We like the cotton ball with vaseline for wet weather fire-building. One spark from flint and steel lights it and it has a long enough burn time to get your fire going even in the rain. We also like to fill paper egg cartons with dryer lint or sawdust and then pour melted wax(saved candle stubs) in them. No wick is needed, you just light the carton. The boys enjoy making them and you have 12 pretty good fire-starters with no cost.

12:37 p.m. on May 30, 2010 (EDT)
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And a makeshift candle can be made from a container of vaselline. Just push a cotton string down into the middle of the vaseline with a toothpick leaving a bit sticking out and light it.

5:49 p.m. on May 31, 2010 (EDT)
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...make sure you use the glass jar.

10:22 a.m. on June 28, 2010 (EDT)
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I build bamboo fly rods, and I do a process called flaming. This tempers the cane and changes the chemical makeup of the fibers in the cane. I also flame the outsite of the cane to give my rods a darker honey color. In the process of building a rod, I do flatten the outside of the cane, by using a scrapper. This results in a very thin layer of the allready flamed material to be scrapped off. I collect this charred cane fibers and use them to build fires. I pratice using only a flint and this material. Since it is charred it takes a spark with little effort. I can pack quite a bit into a pill bottle and this works very, very well.

12:54 a.m. on June 29, 2010 (EDT)
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Coughlan's Fire Sticks anyone?

8:35 a.m. on June 29, 2010 (EDT)
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...make sure you use the glass jar.

Does Vaseline still come in glass in some places? You can melt the Vaseline to a total liquid then pour it into a glass container like a baby food jar. It will recongeal, smoother than before.

June 20, 2018
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