How To Make a Cotton Ball Fire Starter

In this video you’ll learn how to make a cotton ball fire starter. It’s easy:

Rub some petroleum jelly in a couple of cotton balls and store them in a pill bottle. That’s it. We got five and half minutes of burn time–most of that strong flame–out of the ball we made for this video. Them dead dinosaurs burn good!

Make some of these and the next time you need to start a fire in a hurry, or under less-than-perfect conditions, you’ll be a happy camper.

You can download a copy of this video here.

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  1. I knew I was saving my dryer lint for something and now I know why I was and what to do with it. Great video BTW.

  2. Thanks Mrs Homegrown. Now I really know what to do with the lint. Still gotta try the cotton balls though. We have plenty of medicine bottles and vasoline, just need some cotton balls. I noticed on the post for the egg carton/lint starters that the self life is a long time and I imagine it will be for the cotton balls also.

    • Oh yeah, both types of fire starter will last indefinitely. Erik says he spotted a how-to video on the lint/vaseline version on youtube when he posted our video there. So you might want to investigate that. I’d think the only trick would be to make sure you didn’t catch the vaseline on fire when you warm it up!

  3. Thanks for the tip re using a fibre based vehicle for the fuel. For free firlighters I use the fat left over from pork roasts after asking my Dad what the hell I could use it for, never wanting to waste things and he said ‘in the old days’ they used it as a firelighter. Usually pork has much more excess and otherwise unusable fat than other roasts, I have found. I pour the fat into jars and the fat separates to the top (from the aspic at the bottom, which is also a yummy aspic jelly if you can be bothered making hors de’ oeuvres or spreading it on toast) then store these jars in the fridge. When I want a firefighter, I spread a glob of fat onto a piece of newspaper or cardboard, spreading thinly works best and burns longer, roll and knot it up and it burns long and hot, enough to even light dense hardwood like Red Gum sleeper segments. I have tried pouring hot fat onto kindling but the ball of fatty paper works best. With your inspiration, I will now try rubbing some of the fat into coarse or unusable wool/alpaca/mohair fibre (I’m a spinner and often use raw fleeces which also come with rubbish bits that are too rough or dirty to bother spinning with, hairbrush and dog brush waste hair would also be handy for this since the magpies have rejected my well intentioned nest building offerings) that I would normally just put in the compost, it wouldn’t make a nice yarn but it might certainly hold the fat and burn nicely, especially dirty lanolin filled wool which will end up as super fatty balls of fire starting goodness. And I love your page on using urine as a fertiliser, my Mum started me on this as a kid, ‘we need more jungle juice!’ Se would say and we would wee in a bucket until she had enough and had fertilised all her plants. Now I have my own garden I usually wee in a bucket during the day when I am in the garden our out at the laundry and dilute it and throw it onto a rose or the veggie bed and the effects are impressive and very noticeable with rose bushes leaping out of the ground like triffids compared to their languishing ‘control’ counterparts. Citrus trees do especially well from urine and even straight urine sprayed around the area of the drip line does them well, even better when watered in but on the established trees not necessary, just get your menfolk to spray it around and not just in one spot. Peter Cundall does an hilarious display of this on his stage presentations showing just how he does it at home. Great website. Thanks.

  4. Thanks iPad autocorrect, these days all I want is a firelighter, i had my share of firefighters when I was single. Haha. Sorry about the typos. 🙂

    • lol! Who doesn’t want a firefighter?

      And fascinating about the pork fat fire starters. Urine, pork fat, wool leavings…what can’t be made useful?

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