Introduction: Fire Tube - Drinking Straw Hack

Picture of Fire Tube - Drinking Straw Hack

That’s right. Fire Tubes. These little guys are a great backup to keep with you camping or on the run from zombies. Keep in your bag or pocket. Currently, I am making these with two matches, a cottonball in petroleum jelly and a bit of strikepaper/sandpaper for striking. But these can be hacked to store anything you want to keep dry.

Step 1: Gather Your Materials

Picture of Gather Your Materials

plastic straw (I prefer clear)

cotton ball (any tinder)

petroleum jelly

waterproof matches (Strike Anywhere)

sandpaper strips



small stick or rod that fits inside straw

Step 2: Tinder First

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Tear each cotton ball in half and coat each with petroleum jelly. It shouldn't be gobbed on there, a little will do.

Seal one end of the straw by holding the end to be sealed with pliers, leaving little plastic to melt with the lighter. The pliers pinch the ends while you melt them together and it acts as a shield to the rest of the straw.

Step 3: Add the Ingredients

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Using your rod or stick, push the petroleum cotton ball in the straw and pack near the sealed end. (Not too hard or you might break your seal).

Now drop in matches and striker/sandpaper strip (cut to size). I like to keep the match heads away from petroleum cotton balls to prevent too much moisture absorption. This is also why you don’t want to soak the cotton balls in petroleum jelly.

If you plan to store these, it might be wise not to use any petroleum on the cotton.

Step 4:

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Cut straw above the matches leaving enough space to grab with pliers and seal the end as before.

If do it correctly, you have a little waterproof fire starter to take with you. A pretty handy little item for very cheap! And you can use these for other things. I have made some for just tinder (dryer lint), salt, pepper, and sugar. I think the sugar is a great one to have a few in case you need the calories.

Hope you enjoyed. Good luck survivors!


KVSBUNNY (author)2016-02-29

so cool, could use straws to "blister pack" stuff in the first aid kit, cheaper than small tubes of ointment, vaseline . Would it hold liquid I wonder? Thanks for this!

kvohler (author)KVSBUNNY2017-01-15

holds liquid very well. do one side, then pour in the liquid, then do the other. 1 great use for it is storing honey as an emergency provision.

overblast (author)2016-07-03

You could package shampoo and conditioner in single use packs. This helps regulate the size of each use and prevents the tops from opening and getting it everywhere.

melliott11 (author)2014-09-23

Love this. Can you place a seal in the center (like between the cotton balls and the matches)?

SpencerH2 (author)melliott112015-12-20

I haven't tried it but i'm sure you could just bend the straw wear you want the seal and hold it with pliers to seal it, it might want to bend over so you could do it on both sides.

chipper35 (author)2015-08-04

Smart, smart--superbly smart!!

GeckoHiker1 (author)2015-02-22

Great ultra-lightweight backpacking hack. Thanks for the instructable!

VernJones made it! (author)2015-02-02

I honestly made these awhile ago with salt and pepper and just kept them in my pocket expecting them to break in a matter of days, but it's almost a month and a half later and these little things have held up great!!! I am definitely sold, soon to carry all of my camp spices, hunting scents, and emergency fire starters (and probably whatever else I can fit in there) :-D why didn't I know about this years ago??? lol

Glad to hear they are still holding up. I have had good luck with most straws, some lower quality have failed.

koalagod (author)2015-02-08

This has to be one of the best posts on this site! I love to camp and the spices one is such a great space saver!

Not-Dead Undead (author)koalagod2015-02-15


madashell13 (author)2014-09-18

You could try soaking the matches in turpentine to waterproof them and see if that helps with the moisture issue.

Andrew92 (author)2014-09-17

For fire

wafflemaker878 (author)2014-09-07

What are the cotton balls for?

To catch a spark, whether you are using a fire rod, or even a match. I lightly coated mine in petroleum jelly to get a larger flame.

ewbray (author)2014-07-09

An Item that I keep in the handle of my survival knife is a few of those "trick" birthday cake candles {bought from the $1.00 store} that have to be put out manually in addition to the matches. Once you ignite (match, magnifying lens, friction) one of those, they burn much longer than a match and can be reused several times to help start several fires!

Not-Dead Undead (author)ewbray2014-07-28

Ive considered those before, might have to try it out.

MrCombobulouse (author)2014-07-20

love it. I made a few, and made salt, pepper, match, sugar, and Q- tip packs. Can't wait to use them for scout camp!

Great to hear! Q-tips, never thought about putting them in there.

his415 (author)2014-06-17

For more storage you could use the straws they serve in Bubble tea drinks. They are very wide. 6-8 matches I'm guessing.

2ndAmendmentLover (author)2014-06-15

That is amazing. Great idea. I will have these things laying all over the place.

bakdrft (author)2014-05-26

I would think the jellie would soak into the matches making then unable to light?

Not-Dead Undead (author)bakdrft2014-05-28

At first I was concerned about this, which is why I mentioned not to glob it on the cotton ball. However, to my surprise, I have a few in which I did glob it on the cotton ball and I have had minimal soaking by the match. I always keep the match head away from the cotton ball. As long as the tip will light, the wood will burn, even if soaked from the jelly. I suspect it would burn even better with the jelly. Sounds like experiment time!

grace6 (author)2014-05-24

that is so cool! a must have for camping

jessyratfink (author)2014-05-21

Haven't seen these so well packaged before - really smart!


SwaggerFul Swellow (author)2014-05-21

Great Idea! Who knew a straw could really help you that much on a camping trip or long hike!

Yeah, I've been using these things for awhile and I keep finding new things to put in them. I just came across some mega-straws, see what I can put in those.

kbc2 (author)2014-05-21

excellent idea! maybe make seperate pockets? add the petrolium jelly in one end, seal, heat the plyers and pinch the straw on otherside of the jelly, then you should have a dry side for tender and matches.

Captain MacTavish (author)2014-05-05

Cool instructable!

Thank you, I've been using these for awhile. They are great. Keep finding new ways to use them.

About This Instructable




Bio: I am a Biologist by training, a zombie prepper in my spare time. Plus, I like to be outdoors.
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