Whether you’re out car camping, backpacking, or motorcycle camping, building a fire is essential if you need a little warmth and want to cook some food. But how do you build a fire in less-than-ideal conditions? What if all the sticks and twigs nearby are soaking wet? These are the best fire starter ideas that I’ve found to be able to start fires quickly, no matter the conditions.
The Best Fire Starter Ideas
Wax & Egg Cartons
This is a homemade solution that works great. You’ll need to start saving the remnants of all the candles you burn (or ask friends for theirs). You’ll also need some egg cartons, the ones that come in the 5-dozen pack work the best, or you can use the bottom parts of the smaller containers.
Heat the wax up to it’s melting point (be careful!) and fill up each egg spot with the candle wax. Once it cools, then you can cut them apart so you have individual fire starters. All you have to do is light the egg carton and you’re fire will get going in no time. You can add dryer lint or sawdust to the carton to help it light better too.
Cotton Balls & Petroleum Jelly
This is a bit more messy solution, but very cheap and something you can do at home. Take individual cotton balls and squeeze petroleum jelly into them. It’s not enough just to cover the outside of the cotton ball, they need to be saturated. You can store them separately or together in ziploc bags, just make sure they’re sealed!
An alternative to cotton balls and petroleum jelly is soaking them in wax like above. To get them started, just scrape the wax off a small area on the cotton ball and it should light up just fine.
This fire starter idea is a little more bulky and works great if you’re car camping since you have more space. I go through a lot of 2 x 4’s and other lumber that gets reused and wears out eventually. I take all the boards that I can no longer use and cut them up into small pieces with a skilsaw, then split them into kindling with a hatchet. This wood is very dry and makes great fire starter, you can even soak it in any kind of liquid fuel if it’s really wet out, just be careful!
If you’re out camping and forgot to prepare any firestarter, tree sap can be used in a pinch. Look around the trees in the area and collect chunks of pitch. If it’s soft and sticky, use a piece of wood to scrape it off the tree. This can be really helpful fire starter in damp conditions.
How To Start The Fire Starter
Once you have your fire starter all ready to go, you will need to light it. This means flame from a match or lighter or even a heavy spark will do it in some cases. Always store some waterproof matches in a waterproof container so you have something to light your fire with. Matches are cheap and light so pack plenty!
Lighters can be handy but are sometimes unpredictable. If they get wet they won’t light, and sometimes they won’t light at different altitudes.
A great fire starter that you can pick up is called Swedish Firesteel. It produces a nice, big spark and will work even if it’s soaking wet, so is great for emergencies.