Instructables

Cotton Wool Ball and Petroleum Jelly Firestarters

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Picture of Cotton Wool Ball and Petroleum Jelly Firestarters
I've seen different ways to make firestarters from cotton wool and Vaseline (petroleum jelly). This is the quickest way I've found and makes excellent firestarters that keep for ages and burn for about 6-7 minutes.

You’ll need:
- Cotton wool or cotton wool balls
- Vaseline (petroleum jelly)
- Saucepan
- Paper towel
- Tongs
- Paddle pop stick
 
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Step 1: Melt some petroleum jelly

Picture of Melt some petroleum jelly
Roll up some cotton wool into balls about an inch wide. They don't need to be any bigger as they produce a good flame at this size.

Melt some petroleum jelly in a saucepan over a low heat until it’s liquid. A tablespoon of PJ will make about six firestarters.

Step 2: Dunk each cotton ball

Picture of Dunk each cotton ball
As soon as the PJ is completely melted, take it off the heat and dunk each cotton ball in the liquid PJ unti thoroughy saturated.

Step 3: Squeeze out the excess

Picture of Squeeze out the excess
Give it a good squeeze until no more PJ drips out, then set it aside on a piece of paper towel to drain.

Step 4: Set aside to dry

Picture of Set aside to dry
Let them dry for a couple of hours, then store in an airtight container.
Lorddrake2 years ago
Thanks for the clear easy directions. I noticed alot of people on here recommending PJ infused cotton balls for fire starters but no one bothered to say how to assemble them.

I was thinking of just taking a small glob and working it into the cotton ball with your fingers .. but your method seems alot easier and will provide a more even saturation of the cotton.

Thanks.
I concur! This method leaves one with much less of a "baby snot" on the fingers feeling!
strmrnnr2 years ago
What if I was to go for an extended stay on the bush? Could I take a toothpaste tube full of PJ and apply it directly to dry bark or other burnable material?

I think that may work also.
louis4962 years ago
I would not suggest the method of melting depicted here. 



To be clear, melting petroleum jelly, paraffin wax, or other similar materials is very dangerous as they are fuels. When melting anything like these materials you should be using a double boiler. This will help control the amount of heat transfer to the material being melting, and can prevent some serious flash fires. If lower melting temperatures are needed, by partially submersing the second pot in the water and keeping the water at the desired temperature bellow 100 °C, they can be achieved safely.



Know the properties of the materials you are melting! The melting point of petroleum jelly is approximately 37 °C
jazzguitar1963 (author)  louis4962 years ago
This method of melting is perfectly safe and has a far lower risk than heating cooking oil. Low heat and common sense - don't leave it unattended.
Ok the method is safe but why not putting the whole stuff in a glass jar a tin can or the like and just forget it in the sun a few hours until done and keep the saucepan ready clean for some more exquisite purpose
hjjusa2 years ago
I wonder how it would go if you dipped the cotton balls in melted wax after the PJ treatment, mabey that would water proof them and give them extra fuel.
chokapi hjjusa2 years ago
Vaseline is waterproof, that's one of the great things about this method. Drop a few in a film canister or used pill bottle.

Also, if you can find some, white birch bark (WBB) burns like a big flat match. Put one of these firestarters on two square inches of WBB, you've got a good minute to get a fire going.

Only gather downed WBB. You don't want to hurt one of these beauties by pulling bark off the tree. You can often find pretty large pieces as they slough bark in sheets. Cut 'em up and add them to your firestarter kit.
hjjusa chokapi2 years ago
That's great if you live where you can get white birch bark, unfortunatly I don't.
jazzguitar1963 (author)  hjjusa2 years ago
Interesting suggestion. I'll mix up a batch and try it. Stay tuned..
Reffner2 years ago
I've always used triple antibiotic ointment on cotton balls in place of the petroleum jelly. It's more expensive, but typically, the cotton balls are used as a last resort, as I have several other methods that are my first choice for fire starting. The ointment serves 2 purposes...
-first aid without having to carry a separate tube
-due to it being petroleum based it lights and burns as well as petroleum jelly
There would be no need for wax, because if the cotton ball is saturated well enough,.it's already water proof. Great idea melting it, but I suggest NOT doing it with an open flame.
Put a small mettle bowl in a pot about 1-3 of the way full to melt the jelly