Fire Starters by Sean D.

posted May 29, 2011, 6:08 PM by Troop814 Webmaster   [ updated May 29, 2011, 7:48 PM ]

Fire starting is an essential skill that Boy Scouts need to learn. Sometimes the weather or the environmental conditions are not in your favor, and you need a way to get a fire going, that is when fire starters come in handy. On my first High Adventure trip everything was damp and we couldn’t get a fire started. I shaved off some magnesium from my magnesium bar onto a little ball of dry kindling that we had saved. By striking the flint on the magnesium we were able to ignite it and got the fire started. I learned how having fire starters with you, while camping, come in handy.

In this article I am going to discuss the following fire starters: cotton balls covered in Vaseline (Petroleum Jelly), cardboard strips covered in paraffin wax (Wax Jerky), magnesium sticks, and fire sticks. Some of these can be easily made at home and some are store bought.

Cotton Balls With Vaseline 



Cotton balls covered in Vaseline is one of the easiest fire starters to make. It is pretty self explanatory on how to make this fire starter.  All you have to do is get a cotton ball and petroleum jelly.


Simply roll each cotton ball in the jelly until completely covered. After you make a few put them in a sandwich bag or small plastic container. To use one place the cotton ball in kindling and ignite the cotton ball. Now you have a fire starter that will last long enough to get your fire started.

Wax Jerky

To make “Wax Jerky” you will need strips of cardboard and paraffin wax, cutout several 3”x 1” small strips of cardboard. Next melt the paraffin wax.

To melt the wax use the double boiler system, get a pot and fill it with water, put a smaller pot/pan over the water. Boil the water and put the wax on the top of the pan/pot and it will melt.

Dip the cardboard into the wax and cover the cardboard in the wax completely, let it dry. After you make a few put them in a sandwich bag or small plastic container. You now have a very reliable fire starter. Light it the same as the cotton balls.  




Fire Sticks
But if you don’t really want to make anything you can always go to Academy, or any sporting good stores, and buy Fire Sticks such as Coleman’s brand. These are square preformed sticks, a little bigger than a pencil, made of sawdust mixed with wax. Light them the same way as the cotton balls.
Magnesium Bar
The last fire starter that I am going to discuss is a magnesium bar. It is a small block of magnesium that you merely scrape metal shavings of magnesium from the bar and gather them into a small pile about the size of a dime on top of your kindling. When you get the magnesium into a pile, you then strike the flint attached to the bar to make sparks that will ignite the shavings. When the shavings ignite they get really hot and set the tender on fire, and it doesn’t have to be dry to work. You can buy it at any sporting goods store. It comes with a little scraper to shave of the magnesium and strike the flint.

These are just several fire starters that I have used that are simple enough for any scout to make or use. Even if you make or buy any of these fire starters, I would recomend buying the magnesium bar as a good back up for starting a fire. All of these fire starters work great and I hope you found the article helpful.