Learning how to make fire putty, or fire paste is a much easier solution than buying a product off the shelf. First off, it’s much cheaper to do it yourself. Once you have the materials, you pretty much have a lifetime supply.
I make this stuff and put it into segments of straws as my pocket survival kit.
Qualities of a Failproof Fire Starter
A quality fire starter will need to perform in any condition. You should be able to soak your tinder in water and still have it catch, maintain, and last long enough to start a larger fire.
There are plenty of off-the-shelf products like this one, but simple tends to work for me. It would also be helpful to carry a reliable ignition source like waterproof matches to pair with a waterproof tinder.
What is Fire Putty
This fire putty will be made from Vaseline and cotton balls. This is the easiest, and most perfect fire starter to have in your pack for any weatherproof occasion. It’s waterproof and burns for a long period of time. The fibers of the cotton ball soaked in Vaseline will act as a mini oil lamp and burn long enough to get your fire going.
One misconception about using petroleum jelly soaked cotton balls as a fire starter is that you use a whole cotton ball. You don’t need much depending on the kindling you’re working with. I tend to get away with a pinch to get my fire started.
How to Make Fire Putty
- Cotton Balls (dryer lint is also a free option)
- Vaseline or Petroleum Jelly
- A Leakproof Tin (12-pack, but you can probably find something with less)
- Someone’s Hair Dryer
First, if using cotton balls, shred your cotton balls so that they’re uniform. Dryer lint would work just as well. Shredding the cotton balls will make it so you don’t have clumpy balls, but rather, a uniform “paste” that you can pull material from.
Then, fill the tin with petroleum jelly and melt using the hair dryer. The melting point of petroleum jelly is about 105-F so it doesn’t take much. Be careful not to overcook it and have it catch fire. Be reasonable and heat from a distance of over a foot and move the air around.
Once melted, start adding the shredded cotton ball to the mixture and let it meld with the melted petroleum jelly. Add more until the mixture is saturated and you have a workable “paste”.
That’s it! You have cheap, homemade fire putty.