Quick Camping Tip: 5 Free Fire Starters

By Suzanne Wiley published on in Camping & Survival

Cheaper Than Dirt! Quick Camping TipWhat’s camping without a fire? No s’mores, no camp songs, no charred hotdogs! No fun! Besides the reasons listed, fire can be essential to your survival. Following are five common household items that will start a fire.

Picture shows drier lint stuffed inside an empty cardboard toliet paper roll.

Fill old toilet paper rolls with lint.

1. Toilet paper roll, drier lint and newspaper fire starter

Fill your old toilet paper rolls with dryer lint from your clothes dryer’s lint trap. Wrap newspaper or junk mail fliers around the toilet roll. Tuck the paper into the ends of the roll so lint does not come out. Keep these fire starters stored in an old coffee can or in waterproof plastic baggies.

2. Cotton ball soaked in Vaseline

Thoroughly cover a handful of cotton balls in petroleum jelly or petroleum-based lip balm. Keep the coated cotton balls in a waterproof plastic bag or in a waterproof match case.

3. Wine corks

Picture shows a glass mason jar with wine corks soaking in rubbing alcohol.

Collect wine corks in a jar with rubbing alcohol.

Start collecting your wine corks in a tightly sealed glass jar. Fill the jar with rubbing alcohol, allowing room for the corks to expand as they absorb the liquid. Use one cork to start your kindling.

4. Wax-coated cosmetic cotton pads

Melt left over wax from burned out candles. Dip round cosmetic cotton pads into the melted wax to coat. Let the cotton pads dry on paper and then place them in a plastic bag or small waterproof case. To use, scrape some of the wax and cotton from the center of the cotton pad to form a wick. Place the pad on your tinder and light. Note, you may have to repeat this scraping process if the pad does not light.

Picture shows a cosmetic cotton pad dipped in red wax and then dried.

Coat cotton rounds with melted wax.

5. Steel wool and a 9-volt battery

Peel some of the wool off and place it on your tinder. Rub the tip of a 9-volt battery to the steel wool.

Quick prepper tip: Always keep Bic lighters even after they run out, as they will still create a spark.

What is your favorite way to start a fire? Share your tips and tricks in the comment section.

For more about fire starters, read the following posts:


Introduced to shooting at young age by her older brother, Suzanne Wiley took to the shooting sports and developed a deep love for it over the years. Today, she enjoys plinking with her S&W M&P 15-22, loves revolvers, the 1911, short-barreled AR-15s, and shooting full auto when she gets the chance. Suzanne specializes in writing for the female shooter, beginner shooter, and the modern-day prepper. Suzanne is a staff writer for Cheaper Than Dirt!

View all articles by CTD Suzanne



Tags: , , , ,

Trackback from your site.

The mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, "The Shooter's Log," is to provide information-not opinions-to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (17)

  • Art


    wax works great. my method is to cut some newspaper into strips roll and tie with a string. dip this into melted wax. once lit they will burn like a candle for a long time. i make them about the size of a lighter or a little bigger. i then use strike anywhere matches and dip them into wax also to make them some what water proof. i found if i soaked the matches for a day in water they would not lite. i guess the wax is not completely water proof but for short periods in water it works. cheap do it yourself stuff. the waxed newspaper will burn for over an hour which is long enough to lite even wet wood. does not take up much room and if you need a fire immediately it can be a life saver…


  • 10 Survival Essentials


    […] fire starter works, too. Emergency tinder should be in your fire starting kit, as well. I use drier lint, but you can buy an emergency tinder kit from Coghlans that will light when wet and no match is […]


  • Paul


    I use sawdust and wood chips mixed with parifin, melt parifin then stir in sawdust spread out on cookie sheet or tinfoil. As it cools cut into usable chunks. Lasts for years, waterproof burns for a long time.


  • Snakebait


    A squirt of Hand Sanitizer on your damp tender will burn long enough to dry it further and ignite your kindling.

    I also carry a small candle stub for when I’m just too tired to bother with all the tricks I know for making/finding natural fire starters; set it on the ground (or on a mostly dry piece of bark) and light it with tender, etc. spaced over top of it. When your fire catches, you can fish out your candle stub with a stick – to “save it for a rainy day.”


  • Hank Alvarez


    Aside from the lighter fluid in my pack I don’t like to carry ‘treated fire starters’ because of the danger of accidental ignition. A fellow pyromaniac friend had his stuff packed together and we never did find out what he did wrong but he had to get out of his smoldering pack in a hurry. We were in dry country so three of us had to stomp it out and bury what was left. A fireman friend told us that was a freak accident but aren’t they all?

    I pack everything separately in Zip Lock bags: cotton balls, (tinder), lighter fluid, some crushed twigs, (my kindling), and my Bics. Most fit nicely in snack bags. My back up Zippo is always in my pocket.


Leave a comment

Your discussions, feedback and comments are welcome here as long as they are relevant and insightful. Please be respectful of others. We reserve the right to edit as appropriate, delete profane, harassing, abusive and spam comments or posts, and block repeat offenders. All comments are held for moderation and will appear after approval.

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload the CAPTCHA.

%d bloggers like this: