February 3rd, 2014
What’s the best tinder material when making a fire is essential?
The best answer is dry, fibrous material which catches a spark even in wet conditions. Fire starting woes are compounded when the dry stuff isn’t available. Every bushcraft, camping, hiking, or emergency kit should include redundant layers for making fire.
The usual suspects for combustion tools include:
- Fero rods (ferrocerium), AKA firesteels
- Flint and steel
- Magnesium bars
- Fire pistons
- Plain ol’ matches or storm matches
A flic from your Bic doesn’t guarantee fire. It may produce a flame (depending on conditions) but you’ll need dry tinder in your fire lay to get warm. Preparing a fire kit ahead of time will help you avoid a freezing night or worse.
Commercially produced fire starters are available. Why pay 8 to 10 bucks for a pack waterproof fire starter tabs when you can make your own? I’ve been making my own out of jute twine and wax for years.
A 500 foot roll of jute twine cost less than $10. Plus, you can never have enough cordage. The same goes for wax. If you don’t have wax on hand, poach a few crayons to melt from your child’s school supplies. Just so you know, peeling paper sleeves is tedious and time-consuming. Save time and buy some paraffin wax from the canning isle at your store. I used soy wax I have for candle making.
Here’s how to make your own waterproof emergency tinder bundle…
- Jute twine (10 to 12 feet) – find the thicker twine if possible
- Wax (half-handful)
- Double boiler and stove (heat source)
- Nail or metal pin like a door hinge pin
- Variable speed drill (not necessary but I like power tools)
[Skip this step if you’ve ever melted wax in a double boiler] Set up your double boiler with enough water in the bottom container to make the top container float. In my shop, I use an old camp stove. Your kitchen stove will work. To avoid igniting the wax, don’t use open flames or high heat directly on a pan with wax in the bottom.Double boiler set on a camp stove
While bringing the water to boil, prep you twine.