5 Ideas for Fire Tinder

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By Joel Jefferson •  2 min read

A while ago I asked readers Do You Have 5 Ways to Make Fire? The article concentrated on fire starters; steel and flint, lighters, and a few less common systems. However, most of those will be useless for building a fire if you don’t have some tinder to put the flame to.

Here are 5 great ideas for fire tinder, both natural and homemade.

Best Natural and Homemade Fire Tinders

1. Dryer Lint

Everybody can collect it for free, and even get it from the bottom of your pockets in a pinch. It’s light, compressible, and burns like crazy. Drawbacks are that it really must be dry and lint from some clothes (synthetics) does not burn well.

2. Cedar Shavings

Collect the stringy shavings from the bark of a cedar tree for the best (in my opinion) natural fire tinder. Rub it between your hands fast to create a small fluff ball of shavings that will light quickly.

3. Cotton Ball and Vaseline

This might be the oldest survivalist trick in the book. Coat some cotton balls in Vaseline and store them in a container in your Bug Out Bag. Vaseline (petroleum jelly) is flammable and this set up will burn great for longer than you would expect.

4. Cattails

Obviously these won’t be available in all areas, but when you can find them the light feathery material inside cattails is like burning paper or cotton. Quick and easy.

5. Birch Bark Shaving

Like cedar, just shave some bark off of a birch tree. The cedar shavings are like stringy wood, whereas birch shavings are basically nature’s paper. Thin, light, and easy to burn. Also very easy to peel off the tree.

Best Fire Tinder Products You Can Buy

Two great products to keep in your Bug Out Bag are WetFire and Fire Paste.  I have tested both of these products and they are ideal for starting fires in any condition.

  • The cube can be broken off for multiple uses
  • Safe, lightweight tinder guaranteed to light in wind, water or other adverse weather conditions
  • Burn for up to 5 minutes each making these ideal for emergency situations
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  • Starts fires quickly, cleanly, and without flare-up and odor
  • Ideal for use with campfires, fireplaces, barbecues, and more
  • Affordable, essential gear for camping, backpacking, backcountry treks, and more
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  • Waterproof and weather-resistant
  • Quick Ignition
  • This fire starter fuel will burn in any weather or circumstances
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  • Tin filled with hand cut in USA fatwood sticks
  • Starts on fire quickly from ferro rod sparks
  • Fits in shirt pocket
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What do you use?

I know these are just the tip of the iceberg for survival fire tinder. What other natural or homemade fire tinders do you like to use?

Joel Jefferson

Joel is one of the original founders of SurvivalCache.com. After college, he joined the USMC where he served as an (0302) Marine Infantry Officer. Joel is an avid outdoorsman and spends much of his free time in the mountains. Joel’s hobby is researching survival gear & weapons as well as prepping. Read his full interview here.