Fire starters are a must-have, not just for homesteaders, but for everyone. They are an important part of your preparation supplies in the case of an emergency.
Starting a fire can be difficult after storms have passed and everything is soaked. Fire starters solve the problem of trying to find dry enough wood to start a fire. They are easy to make, small enough to store without much problem, and will quickly become a necessary part of your prepping arsenal.
The best part about them is that they are basically free to make by using everyday things that you may normally throw away.
Between girl scouts, being a camp counselor, raising four children in a rural town, and now homesteading, I have learned a few ways to make and use fire starters. Below are some of the many items and ways you can make your own fire starters at home.
Just so you know: This post contains affiliate links; if you click on a link and make a purchase I might make a small commission, but it does not affect the price you pay! For more information, please see my Affiliate Disclosure.
Fire Starter Materials:
There are so many different items that can be saved for fire starters. Most of the items are things we normally throw away.
Below is a list of possible items you can save for making fire starters. Stock up on these items when you are at the Dollar Store or find them on sale. Keep these in a dry tote for future use.
- Rubbing Alchohol
- Cotton Balls
- Wooden Matches
- Lighter Fluid
- Saw Dust
- Twine or string
- Leftover candle pieces from your candles on hand
- Used tart or scent cubes
- Candle wicks
- Used lint and dryer sheets
- Waxed Paper
- Cardboard pieces
- Muffin Tins
Fire Starter Instructions
Cardboard tube starters:
These fire starters are so easy! You simply take an empty toilet paper tube and fill them with lint. Then you smash a used dryer sheet into each end, wrap it with wax paper, and twist shut.
You don’t have to wrap them with wax paper if you so choose, it is supposed to make them burn longer though. You can also use paper towel tubes for these fire starters. Just cut the tubes into thirds before stuffing them.
Cotton Ball Fire Starters:
Another simple project that can be done in 2 different ways.
Melt some old candles or used wax tart cubes in a double boiler. Once the wax is melted, simply dip each cotton ball into the wax leaving a small part dry to light when needed.
Place these on some wax paper to dry. Toss into a sealed zip lock bag.
Using Vaseline, submerge the cotton balls into the vaseline, once again leaving one corner for lighting. Work the vaseline throughout most of the cotton ball. Throw them in a zip lock bag for later.
Twisted Newspaper Fire Starters:
I think this one may have started from a Martha Stewart project but I can’t be sure.
For these fire starters, you simply take single sheets of newspaper and roll them as tight as you can. Once rolled, fold them in half, twist the two halves together, and secure the end with a rubber band or string.
Snack Food Fire Starters:
This project requires no effort other than to open a bag of corn chips, Doritos, Pringles, or Crunchy Cheetos! There is so much cooking oil that is used to make these chips they burn great.
Bonus: Once you get your fire started, you have a snack!
Simply make a small pile and light it. I can tell you firsthand that if you build a square like you are building a house of logs with just four Cheetos, your little fire starter house will burn in about 7 to 8 minutes! Try it.
Cardboard Strip Fire Starters:
Simply tearing cardboard pieces into long strips and tying them in a bundle with twine makes a great fire starter. If you have the thicker coated cardboard, try soaking the strips in rubbing alcohol first.
Rubbing alcohol burns great for a quick starter. I recommend the white, although I suppose the green alcohol would work too.
Duct Tape Fire Starters:
Just when you thought you have seen every purpose for Duct tape along comes this post. The fact is that Duct tape burns.
It burns hot and actually slowly. Just twist up a strip of this tape and light the end. Be careful not to smell the fumes, it stinks.
The Dollar Store sells boxes of matches for $1.00 a box. The problem is if they get wet within the box they are useless.
A quick fix is to dip the matches, tip first into melted wax. Place the dipped matchsticks onto waxed paper to dry.
When you need to use a match simply scrape some wax off the tip with your fingernail and the match will light.
But what about the box?
Shred the box except for the striking paper on the side. Put the shredded paper and the striker part into a zip lock bag with the matches.
Now you have burnable cardboard, a striker for the matches, and all parts are waterproof.
Muffin Tin Fire Starters:
These fire starters are pretty much an “add whatever burns” project.
Basically, you fill the muffin tins with a cupcake wrapper. Next, fill about 3/4 of the way to the top with leaves, straw, sawdust, or anything dry and burnable. Do not pack the materials down.
Then, pour melted wax into each cup until just about the top of each wrapper. Top with some more dried material.
Finally, once the wax has set, remove the cups from the muffin tin and place them into a zip-lock bag.
Some people will add a wick to the center of these to make lighting them easier.
How to Store Fire Starters
I keep my fire starters in a plastic tote under the kitchen sink. That way if there is an emergency I can take the tote out and grab what I need.
I also keep some fire starters in a larger “emergency kit” where all my emergency and first aid kit supplies are kept.
What’s important about storing your fire starters is that they are kept dry at all times, and in a place that you will remember when you need them.
Fire starters can also be purchased online from Amazon. Just search for fire starters in their search bar.
Get FREE Checklists for your Emergency Kit when you sign up below!