Step 6: The Fun Step (Lighting Your Fire Starter)

Now you get to use your awesome fire starters! In case you don't know how to set up wood for a fire, you can learn how to light a fire on this 'ible . They will burn for approximately ten minutes, so if you are super lazy (like me) you can probably get your tinder after you have already lit your fire starters. What makes them so effective is that they burn in 3 stages, first the alcohol burns, until it has heated the petroleum product to a gas, after which it lights, and then when those two run out, the cotton ball itself burns. These are also easily flammable enough to light with any sort of fire-lighter, not just matches or a lighter, so you can use your trusty flint and steel, or one of those old Native American techniques, and it should work quite easily. Also, these will light when wet, and you can literally have them burn on water (as you can see in my picture).

Note:   Also, these fire starters make good torches, that last from somewhere from 5-15 minutes depending on how big a fire-starter you use. All you have to do is tie a bundle of it to a green stick using some sort of non-flammable rope (or wet rope), and light it. 
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).
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.
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.
This looks more like a Fire Fuel then a Fire Starter. Looks like you used a match to start it <br>
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
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
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.
I wash out and reuse little brown pill bottles. They're small, hold 12-15 saturated cotton balls, and don't break. Nice tutorial!
I posted a really neat and fun to way to make fire starters on my blog www.pixieleedust.blogspot.com/ <br>I use these firestarters everytime I make a fire in our firepit and they never fail me!
I thought of a similar but different fuel last year. <br>http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-make-VOTPAA/ <br>There's the link if you are interested. I think yours would be messier to make, but easier to store.
<p> 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.</p>
I intend to do that tomorrow and make it the intro photo. Fire attracts people.
Easy: check.<br>Flamey: check,<br><br>This is pretty awesome.
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!<br>
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
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.
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
Speaking of fire from things found in the &quot;Medicine Cabinet&quot; 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.
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.<br>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.<br>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.<br>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,<br><br>i have but one main point; what a way to kill a huge lead up to something in a science class
Did you make this in 5 min?
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 <a href="http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-make-a-great-Instructable/">guide to making a good instructable.</a>
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!
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. <br>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. <br>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, <br><br>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. <br> <br>Hand sanitizer, being mostly alcohol, also is amazingly flammable, but the boy scouts frown upon more volatile fire starters.
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. <br>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!<br>
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 &quot;PJ balls&quot; is 5 to 7 minutes, more then long enough to start a fire. Just saves the hassel of using the alcohol.
Well actually it lights<strong> a lot </strong>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.
You can also just melt a candle, then coat the cotton ball in wax;
You can probably if you cant get a high enough level of alcohol you can bowl it down on low heat because water will evaporate but alcohol wont
Sorry i meant a higher temp so the water evaporates. I was thinking about boiling vinegar which needs ato be boiled at a lower tempurture to get it more acidic
Woops! Didn't mean to erase that. Why is the delete button right next to the reply button anyways? Anyways that comment was about distilling alcohol using a still (like they use with moonshine) to concentrate alcohol. Just in case anyone really cares. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pot_still
most alcohols have ea higher vapor pressure than water and boil at lower tempatures
That is incorrect. Alcohol evaporates at a lower temperature (174.2 degrees Fahrenheit) than water does. (212 degrees Fahrenheit).
was going to say about dryer lint also but i see it has been mentioned a few times, the other thing that is a great addition is to drip candle wax onto a part of the cotton and this will keep it burning a bit longer if you are trying to really light a fire with these,
Or you could go the old Girl Scout Camp way... <br>Kotex coated liberally with hair spray or spray deodorant. Tuck one of those babies under a pile of tinder and look out! <br>We showed this trick to one of the dad's who was also a boy scout leader. He never knew of this trick... why would he? He was amazed at the old Girl Scout ingenuity! <br>
Be careful if you are storing the mineral oil soaked cotton balls, as it may spontaneously combust because the oil will generate heat as it oxidizes. so if you are going to store it do so in an an air tight container.
Yes, I am aware of that, but it doesn't happen with mineral oil unless the temperature is very high, and living in New England, that doesn't generally present too much of a problem. But if you live in Death Valley, the Sahara desert, or some other place that gets really hot, then you might want to be worried.

About This Instructable


204 favorites


Bio: I'm a student at Harvey Mudd College in CA who loves to play sports and to run, and I always like to play a ... More »
More by pandadude: Build a Realistic Insect from Wire Modular Milk Crate Couch Lobster Antennae Bracelets/Rings
Add instructable to: