Tinder For Flame And Fire
To build a fire, you need a source of spark or flame, tinder, kindling, and firewood. Tinder is very important in that it is an important step necessary to actually build a fire, and the quality of your tinder will determine your results. The right preparation is the most important consideration. Tinder should be the lightest, driest, and most combustible materials in your fire bundle. It’s purpose is to catch the flame and burn long enough to ignite larger pieces of kindling. Regardless of your choice of tinder material, fluff it up or shred it so that more surface area is available for the flame to grab hold. Keep your tinder dry, and in a weather proof container.
A suggestion for gathering the wood needed for fire building is as follows… Think of fire building in a kind of reverse order. When preparing for a fire one should gather or prepare in this order… big wood, medium size wood, small wood kindling, and then at the very last, then gather or prepare tinder. The thing is…if you gather the tinder first, then go out and start gathering firewood, by the time you get back to the tinder, it may be wet or damp. So, gathering or preparing the tinder should be the last step, just before starting to build a fire.
Here are a few suggestions in no particular order of tinder materials for building a fire…
Cotton balls mixed with petroleum jelly or Vaseline
Mix some cotton balls in Vaseline and store them in a container. Vaseline (petroleum jelly) is flammable and will enable the cotton ball to burn much longer.
First look for fallen trees in the area but avoid rotten bark. The inside of most bark will remain fairly dry even in wet weather. Shave it. For a live tree, if possible avoid the main trunk so as not to inflict disease or damage. Peel bark from a limb. Cedar is particularly good. Birch bark is uniquely thin and easy to peel off and burn.
Pine needles (brown/dried/dead)
These can be found in plenty. Be wary of damp needles though.
Very small twigs
From dead branches, snap off very small twigs and then shave them with a knife into shredded pieces.
They must be completely dry to burn well. Crumple into small pieces.
Burns fast, but needs to be very dry.
It will burn fast, so have proper kindling set to catch.
Shavings from firewood
Use axe or knife to shave off dry little pieces which can be further shredded or chipped.
Magnesium fires tarter shavings
This stuff will burn extremely hot…
Best in the fall and found near water. Look for the brown sausage shape piece. Take this off and break it open for the fluffy stuff inside.
Fine steel wool
Yes the kind you use to scour your pans is flammable.
Make this ahead of time. Cut small squares / strips of 100% cotton cloth and insert in a metal container which can seal air-tight (e.g. metal water bottle). Place container on fire or hot coals for about 5 minutes. Remove and let cool off. Unseal the lid and check that the cloth has turned black. These pieces will accept a spark nicely and flame. Store in a weatherproof container.
Collect some of this and keep in weatherproof container.
You can raid your first aid kit for this.
Tampons and pads
It will burn. Mix with petroleum jelly for longer lasting flame.
With enough of them, this can make for an effective tinder bundle.
Dried organic plant material
Just about any dead and dry plant material will burn. Break it into very small pieces and fluff it up.
Add your own tinder suggestions by commenting below…