Introduction: How to Make Firestarter Straws
Okay, we are going to make some handy little tinder for starting fires out in the wilderness.
It's a pretty straight forward thing to do.
- Dryer Lint (I used the remains of two loads, just pulled it off the dryer trap)
- Hand Sanitizer (I used about 1/3 of a small purse bottle for this)
- Straws (using the big clear ones from a fast food restaurant)
- Needle Nose Pliers
- A candle or other open flame for fusing the ends
- A Diabetic strip canister or 35MM canister
Step 1: Lint and Sanitizer
Okay, no pictures, but it's pretty easy.
- put the lint in a loose ball someplace where it can get messy
- add the hand sanitizer and mix it thoroughly so the entire ball of lint is wet
Step 2: Start Stuffing
Once the lint is thoroughly soaked with the hand sanitizer, it's time to start putting it in the straws.
- Cut the straw into even lengths. Approximately 1 inch each
- Clamp the straw end so only a little bit hangs over, and use the candle to melt it sealed. I usually left about 1/16 of an inch on the very end, then held that little bit on the candle until it made a "roll" of melted plastic. I squished it down with my orange stick to make sure it was sealed. Took about a minute or so for a low flame.
- Pull off a piece of the soaked lint. I used a ball about the size of a pea.
- Roll the lint into a small cylinder and push it into the open end of the straw.
- Clamp the open end of the straw into the pliers like you did earlier. While I was doing this, I squeezed the straw until I got all the air and extra liquid out of it, but not so much that it was totally dry.
- Again, hold that short end to the flame. Because of the hand sanitizer, it might light the whole thing up, and if it does, pull it away from the flame and blow the flame out. Heat seal the open end again if needed.
DONE. Now for the commentary
Step 3: Commentary
Okay a few things to think about.
How to get the tinder out in a survival situation. At home we can just cut one end off and get the contents out, but in a SHTF situation, you may only have your knife. I deliberately did this as I did so that you can just take a knife and drag it across the "pill" and extract the contents without much waste and pollution.
Is it waterproof? Mostly. There is a possibility of a small hole in the ends where you melted it shut, and I tested this by squeezing it slightly once sealed, and I got a very fine spray. If I got this, I resealed it, just moving down a bit. I also used the flat end of the Orange Stick (used for maintaining cuticles) to squish the plastic down on to the pliers while the plastic was still hot and malleable.
This is why I have the diabetic strip canister. An additional level of waterproofing, to my mind, can't hurt.
Size: These are deliberately made small, on the theory that you can use it and the lighter you have available to light some small things like pine needles, a pine cone, little branches or whatever, and then build the fire higher from that. I was concerned with weight and size and having room. I can use these in a wood stove of some sort, or use them as a base for anything else. I can also use them to light a gas stove, but I don't know if it would light an alcohol stove right.
In a test, I had one of these pills and I fluffed it out to about the size of a quarter. I couldn't light it from just striking sparks on it, but it lit right up with a flame from a lighter. So my suggestion is going to be to have a permanent match or a lighter, use this to get a small fire going, and use other items to build it up to the bonfire.
Each straw provided from 8-9 of these tinder "pills". Three straws is plenty, and all of them fit into the canister. Toss that into the firebox that I carry in my Bug Out Bag, and I'm set. Each of these have no air in them, just the alcohol and lint.