Worlds Best Pocket-Sized Fire Starter





Introduction: Worlds Best Pocket-Sized Fire Starter

O.K.-This is my first Instructable, so try not to Bash me too much.

As I was looking at the home page I saw there was a contest happening for those wishing to share their know-how on the subject of simply staying warm. Looking through my library of knowledge for anything interesting, I remembered a little trick I used to use to start some of the best fires. These Fire Starters work so well I have been able to even light waterlogged pieces of wood, so BE CAREFUL.

DISCLAIMER: I am not responsible for any use or misuse of this instructable. FIRE BURNS (believe it or not) so this product is potentially dangerous, whatever you or someone else decides to do with it is none of my business, but neither is it my responsibility. USE AT YOUR OWN RISK.

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Step 1: What You Need


-2 small paper cups NO PLASTIC, plastic is bad all around to burn, so no plastic coating on the cups, try to stay away from wax coating, you can use it if you really need to, but I advise against it

-Petroleum Jelly

-A disposable Knife

-2 to 5 cotton rounds

-A fire starter


-Alcohol for those of you to lazy to wait an extra 5 seconds for the cup to catch on fire

Step 2: Step 1

The first thing you need to do is take your cotton rounds, the plastic knife and the petroleum jelly, and use them to smear the jelly on ONE side of the cotton rounds. I normally only use two of the cotton rounds, but three is what you should aim for.

*Note: while you can use up to five, it is not recommended because the jellied cotton rounds will, after a certain amount, become to dense and slow down the rate of their burning, and, sometimes even smother themselves.

Step 3: Step 2

Now, take one cup, the knife, the petroleum jelly, and the jellied cotton rounds. Put some petroleum jelly on the inside bottom of the cup, than stack the jellied cotton rounds on top, with the side that has the petroleum jelly on it facing up. Get rid of the knife.

Step 4: Step 4

Finally, take the second cup and place it over the top of the first as shown, to make a little capsule that stops the jelly from getting all over anything that it touches.

Step 5: Lighting

take the fire starter out, remove the top part placing it under the bottom cup as shown, and place it under the base of your fire, or just use it out in the open to watch it. For those of you who brought alcohol, pour a little over the top of it. As it burns you will notice that the paper cup shell it the first thing to go, which causes the jellied cotton rounds to catch, which burn at a much slower rate. Just set it on fire and it burns for a long time, guaranteed to light almost any fire.

(This picture was taken out in the open on a cold snowy day, no alcohol used. It burned for 20 minutes straight.)



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    I am going camping so I will try it out, thanks!

    Is there a substitute to petrolium jelly? Please help me!

    11 replies

    Mineral oil works just as well.

    I don't believe that anything else would burn as long or as well, but I do know that you can try using rubbing alcohol or, if you have it, the citronella tiki fuel. It burns a lot faster, and not nearly as well, but it's better than nothing.

    Okay. Thanks!


    Where can I get some petrolium jelly? What is it used for?(besides this)

    You can normally find it at any drug store, dollar store, or supermarket, it's a very common item that is normally located around the makeup department. It's usually used as a moisturizer, but I use it for this and on my lips when they start to get dry =P. It's basically the same thing as Vaseline, only Vaseline is the brand name, so everywhere usually sells it as petroleum jelly, but it has a ton of uses, from makeup to mechanics.

    So it's another name for vasoline? Thanks for the help by the way! Isn't it cheaper just to use matches or a lighter since you need a match or lighter to light this?

    No problem, and the lighter doesn't last as long as this does, it burns around 20 minutes if you do it right.

    Cool. I'll try to make a few.

    5* for ible and service!

    Thank you!

    will the jelly light with a spark thing from a lighter?

    4 replies

    If you mean just the spark from a normal lighter that is out of gas, I'm not sure just because the sparks from it are very small. If you use one of the flint strips, I am 99.9% sure it will light, the best I can say is give it a shot! =)

    yes its the little wheel with the flint underneath it from a diposable lighter but what is a flint strip?

    If you go to most outdoors-like stores (Dicks, EMS, etc.) they sell either what looks like a key that is made out of flint with a steel striker (first image) or a flit and magnesium strip (second image).


    I've never used the right-hand one but the left type is superb! Some have poor strikers so use a piece of hacksaw blade! Just one strike will set a piece of tissue paper alight! I've had many bonfires on the beach with this!

     Thanks! It works a charm. I came up with my variation: use empty loo-roll instead of paper cups, use a sheet of kitchen towel instead of cotton balls. Space saving option: Prepare strips of kitchen-towel in advance and press the loo rolls flat. small and handy! I even cut the loo rolls in half because I decided I needed only five minutes of solid flame (I only use it for burning weeds on my allotment). Thanks again, it was fun and fast to make it!
    (btw in Europe petroleum jelly is called "vaseline")

    1 reply

    No problem, and that sounds interesting, I'll have to give it a go!