Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Good Tinder: Cotton and Vaseline

When it comes to tinder, people take a wide range of approaches. There are some who do not carry any tinder, preferring to use natural materials they find in the woods, while others carry every tinder known to man in their backpack.

I think the best approach is somewhere in the middle. I have been cold and wet before, and I have to tell you, I was very happy that I had ready tinder with which to start my fire. On the other hand, I carry one type of tinder which I find adequate, and it serves me well.

There are different types of tinder, and each is best suited for a particular method of fire lighting. For example, char cloth catches a spark very easily, making it ideal for flint and steel fire lighting. The down side it that char cloth does not actually combust in flames, but only glows, and you need additional tinder to start the fire. On the other hand there are fire starter such as wax covered lint, which burn like a candle once lit, but require a match to start.

The tinder I chose to carry is cotton soaked in Vaseline. The cotton is very good at catching a spark. It will not work readily with flint and steel, but it will catch the spark from a ferro rod. Combined with the Vaseline, a small amount will burn for an extended period of time and put out a good amount of heat.

If the cotton is completely covered in the Vaseline, it is also waterproof. Keep in mind however, that if completely covered in Vaseline, the cotton will be harder to light because all of the fibers tend to stick together. Before lighting with a ferro rod, pull the fibers apart to create a larger surface area.

I carry the tinder in a film canister.

I have been using it for years, under many conditions, and in my mind it has proven itself to be the right tinder for the job. It works when I don’t want to mess around, but just need a fire started in less than ideal conditions.