Awesome Firestarters from Everyday Bathroom Objects

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Picture of Awesome Firestarters from Everyday Bathroom Objects
        In this Instructable I intend to explain how to make some of the easiest to make, most portable, and overall awesome burning firestarters that you will find. All of these products in the fire starters are things that I found in my bathroom (or my sister's bathroom), and did not purchase just for my own pyro-esque uses.

Almost all of these creations are my own, or ones that I stumbled upon while looking at warning labels that "warned" that the product was very flammable, which is like warning a child that there is sugar in some food, as if that will stop him/her from eating it.

I have entered this in the Unusual Uses Bathroom Challenge, so if you like my 'ible, please vote for it in the contest. Thanks.

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Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials
All of the materials that I used are ones that I found around the house, but if you need to you can also buy some of the materials, as these fire starters are not to be missed.

To make these you only really need three things:

-Some sort of cotton : That includes cotton balls, cotton squares, and cotton rounds. You can buy these at a pharmacy, or presumably any place that sell nail polish, because that is what cotton balls are mainly used for. (I think?)

-Some sort of alcohol: That includes denatured isopropyl alcohol (or similar), and if nail polish if you are desperate. I suppose that if you have some moonshine sitting around you could also use that. you can buy this in the first aid section of a pharmacy or a Wal Mart-like store.

-Some sort of concentrated petroleum product : (and I don't mean gasoline) That include petroleum jelly A.K.A. Vaseline, and mineral oil. You can buy these at a pharmacy, or at a Walmart-like store, I don't know where to get the petroleum jelly specifically, but the mineral oil will be labeled as a laxative, and you don't need the food grade kind. (You're not eating it are you?)

Personally, I don't think it matters what kind of cotton you get, but the balls are more portable, yet I like the flat squares the best.

For alcohol, get the highest concentration of alcohol possible (90% or above), but if you are lazy, you can use nail polish, but it is not nearly as awesome. A bottle isn't that expensive, and it may not be a bad investment, as it is actually really got for cleaning cuts anyways.

For the petroleum, I think the jelly is the best as it is the most concentrated and hottest burning, but the mineral oil is still very good, and it is much less messy, and you don't have to worry about  spreading it.

If you are planning on storing the fire starters, you may also need some sort of sealed container/ baggie, and you may also want some sort of bowl for mixing the ingredients.

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hjjusa3 years ago
Another good firestarter is to take a plastic straw, cut it into 1-1/2" lengths, Heatseal one end with a pair of cheapie knockoff leatherman style pliers you don't mind heating the tip on, stuffing it full of petroleum jelly saturated cotton, heat seal the other end. You then have a waterproof firestarter that will burn for about 1-1/2 minutes (timed one once).
pandadude (author)  hjjusa3 years ago
I don't know about using drinking straws... fire + plastic = toxic fumes that you don't want to breath in. But as long as you don't care, it's fine with me.
Take the cotton out of the plastic and fluff it up. sorry for not including that.
vegascrist3 years ago
The vaseline and cotton by themselves lights very easily. You just have to fluff up the fibers before you add the spark. After you massage in the vaseline, fold the cotton ball into a small square of alluminum foil. When you need to use it, cut an "X" into the foil and fluff up the fibers. It will probably light on the first spark. The foil contains the jelly until you need it.
jrramos3 years ago
This looks more like a Fire Fuel then a Fire Starter. Looks like you used a match to start it
pandadude (author)  jrramos3 years ago
Well in America, the word fire starter refers to both the fuel, and the external source of heat with which you light it. It's kinda stupid and confusing, but that's the way the word is used, so that's the way I used it.
Weird. I live in America and have never heard it used like that. Fire starters seem to be things that start fires. And fuel is fuel. Maybe it's where u live because I have never heard it used that way :) nice to know
abranz3 years ago
also works great with dryer lint... i store mine in empty toilet paper rolls (the cardboard) great for storage and not messy. just cut off about an inch at a time, its all you need to start a fire pit
galen066 abranz3 years ago
I've done the drier lint bit, and while it works, it's not as reliable due to accumulated skin, oils, hair and other inert materials. the burn is not as even, and not as long lasting.
ammohoard3 years ago
I wash out and reuse little brown pill bottles. They're small, hold 12-15 saturated cotton balls, and don't break. Nice tutorial!
nhardy3 years ago
I posted a really neat and fun to way to make fire starters on my blog
I use these firestarters everytime I make a fire in our firepit and they never fail me!
lukeyj153 years ago
I thought of a similar but different fuel last year.
There's the link if you are interested. I think yours would be messier to make, but easier to store.
pandadude (author)  lukeyj153 years ago

Hey, I like getting messy. What am I gonna do about it. Nice job on your Instructable, though. If you have a video of you burning it, then it might attract more viewers.

I intend to do that tomorrow and make it the intro photo. Fire attracts people.
doby1623 years ago
Easy: check.
Flamey: check,

This is pretty awesome.
pandadude (author)  doby1623 years ago
Thanks! This was my first non-photo 'ible, so I'm happy to know you think it's cool.
yes, nice job....good luck to you!
danny61143 years ago
Wouldn't melting the vaseline then mixing the alcohol into it be another way to accomplish this?
I tried lighting plain cotton balls and Vaselined cotton balls.The ones with Vaseline did not want to light at all. So the alcohol seems very important. Is that your experience that cotton balls and Vaseline wont light? I read that cotton ball thing on some survival web site or camping. The idea was to keep the cotton ball dry. But I never had any luck with it and the Vaseline. Cotton balls in a 35 mm film container for camping sure work out nicely
pandadude (author)  eddems3 years ago
Cotton balls and vaseline do light, but you just have to use the vaseline sparingly. If you completely drown out the cotton ball in vaseline, it won't light as easily, but it should light if you put a match under it for a few seconds.
thebeef23 years ago
I like this for two reasons: 1. it's about fire and 2. I can make it while i sit on the toilet. Thanks for a great 'ible
Johenix3 years ago
Speaking of fire from things found in the "Medicine Cabinet" Glycerine (think hand lotions or Glycerine Suppositories) and Potassium Permanginate (they used to use it as a disinfectant or water purifier- it is still used to clean swimming pool filters) when combined will produce fire. But use only the least trace of the Permanginate- it can be explosive.
pandadude (author)  Johenix3 years ago
I might try that. I have a pool at my house, and have some leftover glycerin from another project.
Just be very careful when messing with these two materials, especially if there is some cotton around.
When I was younger, and could get away with such things, I discovered the reaction between glycerine and potassium permanganate could be catalysed with any organic fibre. Cotton wool is ideal (massive surface area). So, soak cotton wool in glycerine, then when ready add the condys crystals, about 30sec later it all goes up in flames.
This is bloody dangerous, especially when contained in a glass jar. The time to reaction depends on ambient temp, quality of glycerine, that sort of thing. Extremely unpredictable. Incrediibly dangerous if contained. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.
Only by luck do I still have two working eyes and a full house if fingers.
lucky people, who live in a place where glycirene is still normaly or non-decensitised or what ever its,

i have but one main point; what a way to kill a huge lead up to something in a science class
DiyProjects3 years ago
Did you make this in 5 min?
pandadude (author)  DiyProjects3 years ago
No, I spent approximately 4 hours making this 'ible. I'm not saying that your idea was bad, I'm just saying that you could have at least shown your effort in the simple execution aspects of making an instuctable. You might want to look at the guide to making a good instructable.
fullhouse3 years ago
old boy scout here...we used a small piece of sand paper a few wood matches ,dryer lint all wrapped in strips of newspaper tied with a string and dipped in wax several times...water proof and about the size of a roll of quarters...nice lil fire starter!
submark3 years ago
For backpacking or emergency kits cotton balls saturated with petroleum based antibiotic ointment (think neosporin and cortosione) would become a mult- purpose resource item. With low bulk, the ability to light easily, cleanse and protect wounds, and avoid leaks and mess from punctured ointment tubes. Packed in a plastic pill bottle they are very handy.
Do not use the 'cream' style products. They might burn, but they also contain ingredients that will evaporate and others that do not support flame.
Replace often, as the non-petroleum ingrediants will degrade.
hi, small question/comment, one thing that i found works well for something like this is; start with metho (got to b ethanole) then disolve as much sodium hydroxide as possible (aka lye, and serriously as much us possible and not in glass it cracks and disolves it) then with this super saturated solution mix it with about a 2;3 ratio of oil;it. normal cooking oil works well,

works well for any thing on a camping trip, soap and a fire
FYI, if you want to be more re-usable-ly, (ie- save some dough) you could use dryer lint instead of the cotton balls. Maybe even some old socks!
Actually, I collect up all the lint from the dryer and every year I send it to the manufacturer of the dryer and ask them if they will replace my shirt.
Another good fire starter would be pine cones coated with wax.You might even try sweet gum balls coated with wax also. Thy are about golf ball size.
I was going to suggest the dryer lint. Works amazingly well for fire starting, even with a spark from a flint and steel. Standard issue boy scout firestarting kit is cotton balls or dryer lint with petroleum jelly as additional fuel as well as water proofing.

Hand sanitizer, being mostly alcohol, also is amazingly flammable, but the boy scouts frown upon more volatile fire starters.
pandadude (author)  makermike3 years ago
I have used dryer lint before, and it works almost as well, although it is't as good with absorbing the alcohol (or at least from my experience), and since I am submitting this to the bathroom challenge, I thought that I might use things that are found in the bathroom.
What about toilet tissue or tissues? Seems like they might work well, especially if you were to roll them up fairly tightly. Then you could saturate them with whatever, and light them. :D
If you want to keep this easily, and also to add to their burn length, is to tie a little bit of string around it and dunk it into melted wax.
Do this a couple of times to build up a decent wax shell and then you can even shape them blockish for better storage. The wax keeps all the messy jelly on the inside and stops the alcohol from evaporating off. You could even use the string as a lighting wick. Or just split wax shell prior to lighting
now That's a good idea if the wax will set around the alcohol and jelly! it would make them AWESOME!
travcoman453 years ago
The alcohol isn't really needed. Just cover the cotton ball with the vaseline an it will burn just fine. Average burn time on what we call "PJ balls" is 5 to 7 minutes, more then long enough to start a fire. Just saves the hassel of using the alcohol.
pandadude (author)  travcoman453 years ago
Well actually it lights a lot better with the alcohol, and it makes it easy to go without matches, and only use a flint and steel. It also makes the flame bigger, although your right, without the alcohol, it will burn for only around 4-5 minutes less long, and it may be easier.
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