With spring upon us, now is a great time to camp. No campout would be complete without a fire. Requirement #14 of the Fire Safety and Fire Building merit badge, has the girls build waterproof fire starters. I decided to test a few methods and see how they worked.
I tried three different methods (from left to right)
- Cotton balls and petroleum jelly in a mini muffin paper, sealed with candle wax
- Cotton balls and petroleum jelly in a cardboard egg carton, sealed with candle wax
- Dryer lint and petroleum jelly in a cardboard egg carton, sealed with candle wax
I know dryer lint makes a great fire starter, it is my son’s favorite from years of Boy Scouting. I wanted to see if cotton balls would work just as well and save me the hassle of having to save dryer lint. What if I could not find a cardboard egg carton, would something else work just as well? And could these really be waterproof?
After gathering my supplies, I made a few fire starters. Each of the cotton ball starters contained two cotton balls with a dollop of petroleum jelly in between. I used a candle warmer to melt the remains of an old candle (don’t you love the color). After the wax melted, I covered the cotton balls with wax. I used the same method to build the lint fire starters.
At the campsite, I wanted to test them under ideal situations – hopefully we will have wonderful dry weather at every campout. Using a match, I lit the paper/cardboard. I am happy to report that there was no difference between the two egg carton starters. So skip the headache of saving dryer lint, cotton balls work great.
However, I did notice a difference between the muffin papers and egg carton. The muffin paper did not burn as well as the cardboard, but once the flame reached the cotton ball there was no difference. All three burned about the same length of time and was equally intense after a few minutes.
BUT, ARE THESE WATERPROOF? After testing the starters in ideal conditions, I soaked the three different types of starter in a bucket of water for one hour. Hopefully even if my gear were to be wet, they would not be in standing water. At this point I noticed the cardboard/paper was soggy and obviously would not light.
Using my pocket knife I sliced each starter in half and the fibers frayed naturally around the edges. I also used my knife and was able to scrape lose a few more bits. These frayed edges is what you would actually light if your starters were wet. Now, these wet starters worked just as well as the dry ones.
So before you go on your next camp out, grab some cotton balls, petroleum jelly and an old candle. You will have a fire going in no time, even if they get wet.