Use A Few Items You Already Own To Make A Handy Emergency Campfire Starter

When you're in a pinch in the wilderness, a firestarter can save you time and stress. There's nothing worse than needing to build a fire and realizing you're fresh out of options, whether the weather took a turn and soaked your firewood, you're camping solo and forgot your lighter fluid, or you're experiencing an emergency. In all of these scenarios, a DIY firestarter can be a great tool to help keep you warm, cook your food, and flag someone's attention for help.

The best part is, you probably already have everything you need to make a firestarter in your kitchen and medicine cabinet. Cotton and petroleum jelly are a tried-and-true combination to create a portable candle on-the-go. The cotton acts like the wick for a long-lasting burn, and the petroleum jelly becomes a flammable burn agent when heated. Always keep a couple of these quick, inexpensive firestarters in your car or camping gear next to your first aid kit.

Gather and prep the materials

To start putting together your firestarters, you'll need to gather some materials. Comb through your bathroom medicine cabinet and kitchen to find leftover pill bottles, cotton balls, petroleum jelly, sandwich bags, a spoon, a pair of chopsticks, and dish soap. If you have some adhesive remover, like GooGone, that can be helpful as well.

Next, you'll want to remove the labels from your pill bottles, so you don't mix up your medication with your firestarters. When you're packing in a hurry, or you're fumbling around for supplies in the dark, it's easy to mix up the pill bottles. A label-free bottle will remind you that there's no medication inside.

Next up, fill your sink with warm water and dish soap. Drop the empty pill bottles into the water and set a timer for a couple of hours. When the timer goes off, use a sponge to scrub off the label. If you still have some residue, apply the adhesive remover.

Fill the bottles with kindling

Once the bottles are dry, line a sandwich bag with a generous amount of petroleum jelly. Then, take a handful of cotton balls and break them up into smaller pieces. Next, you'll put the cotton balls inside the sandwich bag, seal it shut, and knead it with your hands. Once the jelly has thoroughly coated the cotton balls, use a pair of chopsticks to pull them out and stuff them inside the pill bottles. Squeeze as many as you can inside the bottles, so you have more "kindling" to work with.

Once you're ready to use your firestarter, grab three to four cotton balls and place them under some kindling or firewood. Light them with a match or lighter and the flames should catch. If you encounter bad weather in the outdoors, light the cotton balls under a tree where it's drier or place a piece of aluminum foil over the firestarter to block out the rain and wind. Once each cotton ball is alight, get it underneath the kindling.

Don't forget to put out your fire before you go to bed, especially if it's windy outside. Be sure to put the fire out properly with sand, dirt, or water. And that's it! Now you have everything you need for a firestarter in an emergency or onĀ your next camping adventure.