DIY Fire Starter





Introduction: DIY Fire Starter

About: Thought it was time to update the profile some so here goes... Still married to a wonderfully sweet beautiful woman, still have 5 kids 3-23, we live in the Rocky's about 60 or so miles West of Colorado Sprin...

Fire is one of the most valuable tools you can have in a survival situation. It can prevent cold injuries, cook your food and make water safe to drink, it offers protection from animals (some that might look at you as their next meal), as well as offering a psycological edge and comfort in what can be a very stressful situation.

Step 1: Tools and Materials

Here is a list of the tools and materials you'll need:
  • Empty Bic type lighter
  • Duct tape
  • Small flat blade screw driver
  • Needle nose pliers or Multi tool
  • Thin kerf saw (I used a hack saw blade and holder)
  • Cotton balls
  • Vasilne
  • Zippo lighter fluid
  • Small stick
  • Mixing container

Step 2: Making the Tinder

Start by getting a good ammount of vasiline on the mixing stick and putting it in the container you have for mixing. Next add a few drops of Zippo lighter fluid. The Zippo fluid thins the vasilne just a hair and makes it easier to saturate the cotton balls. You don't want to add more then a few drops of Zippo fluid to the mix. Drop cotton balls into the mixing conatiner one at a time and using the stick mash the cotton ball into the vasiline mixture until it is well coated. Repeat this step until you have four (4) cotton balls that have been covered in the mixture. Place the cotton balls into a zip lock bag and set aside for now.

Step 3: Preparing the Bic

First make sure the lighter you are using is TOTALLY EMPTY! Then using the small screw driver, carefully remove the metal band that goes around the top of the lighter.

Once the metal band is removed, using either the needle nose pliers or Multi-tool carefully bend the small safety band away from the striker wheel. Using a gentle back and forth motion, remove the safety band from the lighter.

Next, use the pliers (or Multi-tool) to remove the red gas release button and the small metal valve on the oppisite side.

Be careful that you do not bend the plastic "ears" that hold the striker wheel.

Step 4: Cutting the Lighter

Once you have removed all the tiny bits in the previous step it is time to cut the lighter in two.

Once again MAKE SURE THE LIGHTER IS TOTALLY EMPTY! If it isn't completely empty it can not only blow butane in your face there is a chance it will fly across the room.

Step 5: Conclusion

Now that your old Bic is in two sections you'll notice that there is a thin plastic divider that runs through the center of the lighter. Take the tinder you made out of the zip-lock and stretching and twisting the tinder place two peices in each side.

Next take the bottom portion of the Bic and line it up with the top part. Using a peice of duct tape 6-8" long wrap the duct tape around the Bic to hold the two peices together.

Now toss the DIY fire starter in your survival pouch and hope you never need to use it!

While there are many good fire starters on the market today the DIY fire starter in this instructable is easy to make, costing just pennies and works just as well as its more expensive brothers.

As always I look forward to reading your comments!

Train to Survive!



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    I love your idea. Not being a smoker I never have a light when I need one, camping, fishing and hunting. Just put it in your day bag or pack. That was a great idea to store the cotten fuel in the empty lighter. If we just look around a little we can find all kinds of empty lights on the ground or in the trash. Aspecially for non smokers! That would give you plenty of free flints and strikers.

    Simply genius!!! Save up some flints as well and store those in there as well and u will have a DIY fire starting kit fr a while. Keep extra tinder and Cotten balls in gram bags. (Thought) if u use steel wool instead of cotton balls, would the flame last longer?

    Why not just keep a normal lighter? Isn't this a bit overkill?? I don't mean to come off as a jerk but why do you need all this instead of using a normal lighter or a miniature striker???

    1 reply

    To answer your questions, normal lighters run out of fuel eventually and you have a striker of sorts when it does but the design of the lighter is such that it doesn't allow enough of the sparks to get out of the little cage. Most everyone I know (both non-smokers and smokers alike) have at least one used up old lighter laying about somewhere so why not put it to some use? This little gadget combines a striker and storage for some tinder that you can toss into an EDC kit and forget about until you need it. As for why would you want to repurpose an old lighter, I know far too many people who are lucky they have a roof over their head and even the small cost of a mini striker often times means no milk in the fridge.
    Hope that answers your questions and thanks for the comment!

    Train to survive!

    Very nice. How do you remove the cotton ball tinder when you need it? Is it difficult to do with cold hands?

    3 replies

    The tider ball closest to the end can be pulled out with your fingers (usually) the ones deepest in the fire starter can be pulled out with a small stick. I tested the fire starter a couple of days after I made it when the temp dipped to 11 degrees and 5 inches of snow on the ground. I ended up using a small twig to get the tinder out only because I was already cold and didn't want to take off my gloves.


    It wouldn't take up hardly any room and may come in handy to put a piece of L-shaped wire down the inside of the lighter when packing in the tinder. Then you could pull the tinder out when needed with no twig search necessary and use the wire for any number of things as they come up. I was thinking along the lines of twenty gauge wire doubled and twisted into a solid stick much like one of thos egg dippers that come with Easter egg coloring kits (just not quite that big) :>) Great instructable btw. I'm going to make one of these tomorrow after I dig that Bic I threw away today out of the trash!


    That is an AWESOME idea! I am gonna have to dig up some safety wire and make something up! Thanks for the suggestion! Look for an addition to the Instructable in the next day or so!

    Thanks again!

    Train to Survive!


    Just curious, why remove the safety band in the first place? wouldn't it serve to protect the flint and wheel structural integrity, taking advantage of the protection provided by its manufacturer? I was thinking maybe cuz one could strike easier with gloves on if the safety ring was removed, yes? Not being critical, mind you, just curious.

    1 reply

    There is a two-fold reason for removing the sfety ring. It makes striking the wheel with gloves on easier is one, that you rightly pointed out. The second is the more imprtant reason, with the ring in place the sparks produced are contained in the safety ring and do not project well. With the ring removed the sparks produce more of teh "shower" needed to get whatever tinder you are using to catch.

    Thanks for the comment!

    Train to Survive!