You need four things to start a fire, namely, (1) ignition, (2) tinder, (3) kindling, and (4) main fuel. An ignition source ignites the tinder. The tinder ignites the kindling. Kindling is small pieces of wood or wood shavings that are generally the diameter of a pencil or smaller. The kindling ignites the main fuel that consists of larger pieces of wood. Your fire kit should include fire tinder and there are a variety of ways to create your own fire tinder.
- Dryer lint or Cotton Balls can be easily ignited with a single spark. You can make it burn longer by adding petroleum jelly, wax, or lamp oil. Keep some petroleum jelly or Carmex in your first aid kit. It can be used for dry skin, chapped lips, and for starting fires. Adding petroleum jelly can make the material burn for up to 10 times longer.
- Commercial Tinder is readily available in a variety of formats. Some tinder is sold in waterproof packaging and can be lit even when wet.
- Egg Cartons can be filled with a mixture of sawdust, cotton, dryer lint, and wax that can easily be ignited. Fill a cup in the egg carton with flammable material and then store that egg cup in a poly zip bag.
- Duct Tape is light, easy to ignite, and will burn long enough to start a fire.
- Bark from birch, cedar, sagebrush, etc. can be shredded and used as fire tinder. You can also use dry moss and fungus as tinder.
- Tube Rubber Bands can be used to organize gear and can double as fire starter. Bike shops are normally very happy to give you old inner tubes. These do not deteriorate and they burn for a surprisingly long time. Tubes burn dirty and will stay lit even in water.
- Candles can be to ignite tinder. The longer-burning candles or the “trick” candles can work very well.
Other things that can act at tinder include the inner threads from Fish & Fire Paracord, shredded paper, cloth, dry and shredded leaves, trick birthday candles, tea light candles, crayons (can also be used for marking trails), etc.
Create a tinder bundle by pulling part the fibers and use an igniter to start the fire. You can mix other fuels with the tinder bundle to make it last longer and be more effective. Loose fibers catch fire more quickly. Other items in your kit can enhance the fire. Possible fire enhancing items include Carmex, petroleum jelly, inner tube rubber bands, electrical tape, alcohol swabs, candles, etc.