Survival Kit Fire Starter Tips

Over the years I have provided various tips that can be used to start fires with stuff that you carry in your survival kit. I thought I might put some of them here in an article so they are all in one place.

Most people have a first aid component in their survival kits and they usually contain some of the smaller Alcohol Prep Pads. These can be used to start a fire. Simply cut a small "X" in one side of the package and pull some of the alcohol pad up and out through the "X." Light the alcohol pad, which can be accomplished with a lighter or even the sparks from a Ferrocerium Rod. You now have fire which can be used to build a larger fire. Make sure you have your other tinder, kindling, and fuel ready to go before you light the alcohol prep pad.

An Alcohol Prep Pad being used to start a fire.

When storing a lighter in a survival kit, if it gets in a position where the gas lever is pressed down, all the gas will escape from the lighter. When you want to use it in an emergency, it will be empty. To prevent this, place a small cable tie around the lighter between the body of the lighter and the gas lever. Or, tie a piece of jute twine in the same position, which serves the dual purpose of also providing tinder. 

Using a cable tie or jute twine to prevent the gas lever on a BIC lighter from accidentally being
pressed down while in storage in a survival kit.

I have been carrying a small pencil sharpener in my survival kit for many years. It can be used to make tinder, even if the if the outside of small sticks are wet. Simply scrape off the wet outside, then make plenty of shavings from the dry wood inside. This works well for small sticks found laying around on the ground. Of course, the pencil sharpener can also be used for sharpening sticks for arrows or traps.

A pencil sharpener can be used to make tinder from the dry inner wood of small sticks.

If you are going to store a Ferrocerium Rod in a survival kit for any length of time, it will begin to oxidize and corrode. In order to protect the rod in storage, coat the outside, including the ends, with clear nail polish or laqquer. When you need to use the rod, just scrape the coating off and use as normal.

Coating a Ferrocerium Rod with nail polish before storing in a survival kit.

If you carry a candle in your survival kit, it can be used to help get a fire going. What I always recommend are a few of the small "Trick Candles" which can't be blown out. They are great for starting a fire, once your tinder is set, as the wind can't blow them out.

Small "Trick Candles" can help start a fire even when it is windy.

Many people carry a small bottle of hand sanitizer in a kit or pack and this makes a great fire starter, especially when you have marginal tinder. Being alcohol based, you simply squeeze it onto your tinder or even kindling, and light it with a lighter of Ferrocerium Rod. It burns very hot, and you should use caution as sometimes you won't see the flame, but it is there.

A small bottle of hand sanitizer makes a great fire starter, especially if you have marginal tinder.

This shows a fire that was started with only pencil sized stick and no tinder using hand sanitizer.

I always recommend carry some tinder in your survival kit for quick fire starting. I like to carry cotton balls with petroleum jelly which are stored in an aluminum capsule. I also like to use Tinder-Quick Fire Tabs, as they are dry to the touch. I use them as a rattle reducer when I make a mini-kit in a tin, and also carry a couple in the back of my wallet.

Cotton balls with petroleum jelly and Tinder Quick Fire Tabs are two of my preferred ready made tinder.

Last, but not least, carrying jute twine provides a multi-pupose item. Of course it can be used as cordage, but is great for making a nest, especially if you are using char cloth, or an ember from a bow or hand drill. Just unravel it and fashion it into a bird type test, drop your char cloth or ember in it, and blow into flame.

 Jute twine makes great tinder when unraveled and worked into a nest.

We hope you enjoyed these tips and will help support our efforts by checking out our products. As always, Be Prepared To Survive!

Copyright © 2018 by John D. McCann