***Before you begin assembling any form of outdoor controlled fire, please check with your local authorities and/or NOAA for fire weather risks and forecasts. You can also learn about wildfires and how to prevent them at smokeybear.com***
1) Egg Carton, Candle Wax, and Dryer Lint
Melt the candle wax using the double boiler technique. All you have to do is fill a pot with water and place jar candles in it. The wax will melt as the water in the pot heats up. Once they’re melted, take out the wicks. While the wax is melting, take a paper egg carton and line each pocket with dryer lint. (Dryer lint is very flammable.) Pour melted wax into each pocket to the brim. Once the wax/dryer lint mixture hardens, close the egg carton lid and store it in your freezer until your next camping/backpacking trip. When you’re ready to use the firestarters, cut off a piece of the egg carton and put it in the bottom of the firepit.
2) Toilet Paper Roll, Cotton Balls, Crayons, and Twine
Melt the crayons down until they’re liquid (you can use the double boiler technique with a bowl that you don’t mind getting crayon goop all over). Stuff a cardboard toilet paper roll with cotton balls and tie a piece of twine (natural twine is best) around the roll. The twine serves as wick. Dip the toilet paper roll stuffed with the cotton into the melted crayon wax, rolling it around to thoroughly coat it. Set it aside to dry, then use as and when you need to!
3) A Can of Coke and a Chocolate Bar
Yes, really. This is possible. According to an article on WildwoodSurvival.com, all you need is a soda can, a chocolate bar, sunlight, and some tinder to start a fire. Here’s how you do it…
- Step 1: Polish the can. The bottom of the soda can be used to reflect and focus sunlight onto your tinder. If you look at the can bottom, you’ll see that it has a slightly matte finish, so you’ll have to polish it up for it to effectively reflect and concentrate the energy and light.
- Step 2: Break off a piece of chocolate and rub it on the bottom of the soda can. This will shine up the can bottom – giving it almost a “mirror” finish. Soft, milk chocolate works best because it melts easier than darker chocolates. As you polish, make sure to use some of the wrapper for more abrasion. This process requires patience, though – it takes about an hour or more to complete!
- Step 3: Once you have it polished until it gleams, hold a piece of tinder (you could even use a bit of the wrapper) to the focal point of the can bottom, which is about 1 – 1 ¼ inch from the center of the bottom, and angle it towards the sun. Move it around to find the brightest spot on the can bottom.
- Step 4: Soon, the tinder or wrapper will start to blaze. (If it’s really sunny, it will only take a few seconds.) Add the smoldering piece to a bundle of tinder, and blow until it catches fire!
- Step 5: Congratulate yourself for making a fire out of a soda can and a chocolate bar.
4) Bow Drill
This primitive method to start a fire is both effective, and will leave you feeling very accomplished. To begin, you need a bow with a string, a drill, a piece of soft wood (a hearth board), a bearing block, a piece of bark (ember pan), a tinder nest, some healthy lungs and some strong arms. Assemble your components, twisting the drill into the string of the bow. Place the ember pan below the hearth board and secure to the ground with your foot. Sandwiching the drill between the hearth board and the bearing block, move the bow back and forth as fast as you can causing the drill to rub against the hearth board. The friction will eventually cause a smoking ember to collect in the ember pan. Quickly add the tinder, and blow until it catches. Transfer to your fire pit and voila!
For those camping trips you have an excessive amount of Doritos on (?!), you can use them as kindling after you finish snacking! All that is needed is a match to light them.
6) Swedish Torch
A Swedish Torch is a great way to make a self-contained camp fire with cooking abilities. First, forage for a respectably sized, dry piece of softwood. Next, cut star shaped ruts at least 3/4 of the way down the length of the log. Gather a bunch of kindling, and wedge into the top of the log. Light the fire, and be amazed at how the fire descends down the log (air is sucked through the cracks lower down and provide a wind-sheltered oxygen-filled furnace).
7) Lens and Sun
This method requires some bright sunshine, a lens (magnifying glass/ camera lens/ binoculars) and a lot of patience. Pile some tinder in the center of your fire pit and hold the lens about 12 inches away from it. Angle the lens so the sun is concentrated on a small spot on the tinder and wait. As soon as it begins to smolder, blow to ignite and place small kindling until the fire is stable!
8) Steel Wool and Batteries
Stretch out the steel wool to about 6 inches long. Rub the side of a battery (according to artofmanliness.com, 9 volt batteries work the best) on the wool which will begin to glow and burn. Gently blow on the steel wool and quickly transfer it to a tinder nest.