How to Make Firestarter Straws

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.

  1. put the lint in a loose ball someplace where it can get messy
  2. 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.

  1. Cut the straw into even lengths. Approximately 1 inch each
  2. 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.
  3. Pull off a piece of the soaked lint. I used a ball about the size of a pea.
  4. Roll the lint into a small cylinder and push it into the open end of the straw.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

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    6 years ago

    I have also used vaseline impregnated dryer lint "balls" in the past as firestarters but have found that you have to be careful if your dryer lint contains too much synthetic fabric. Get too close to the fire fumes when you light this and you can get a wierd rush / head spin much like some of the fumes I breathed as a kid when playing down the basement with my junior chemistry set. (Whoa....what the hell was that?!?!?) I try and use cotton balls now as they are quite cheap and cotton does not emit anything toxic when burning. I have also hit my dentist up for handfuls of those cotton cylindars they often stick in your mouth when doing dental work. They are much denser that cotton balls and fluff up nice.

    mmuch olike


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Working on another one now. Most of those I have in my binder are taken from here for doing things like braiding paracord and so on.


    8 years ago

    these are really cool! I am trying this!!


    Reply 8 years ago

    Let me know how it works out!