One of the most important things you need in a survival situation is fire. Fire keeps you warm, helps you purify water, cooks your food and gives you a psychological sense of security. When you’re ready to light your fire, how will you do it? Matches, lighters and ferro rods are great tools to carry with you, but with these DIY fire starter straws, getting the fire to take and last will be much easier, and you won’t have to light multiple matches or use up too much of the fluid in your lighter.
Why Do You Need Fire Starter Straws?
Lots of people carry fire making implements with them in their EDC (every day carry) kits. The only problem is, if you need to make fire and either kindling isn’t very plentiful or everything is damp or wet, it’s going to be pretty hard to get a roaring fire going. Using these fire starter straws will make things much easier. As you can tell by the featured image, they give off a great flame! They also last a good little while (about 3-4 minutes) which will make lighting a fire much easier. Because they are completely encapsulated in plastic, they are totally waterproof – you could drop them into a pool of water and they’d still serve their purpose.
If you make these and carry them with you, you could use them to help you get any fire going anywhere, but I wouldn’t. In fact, I would recommend that for every 20 or so fires you make, you only use the fire starter straw once. Use one for practice now and then (although it’s not hard to make them work) – in a SHTF scenario, you want to know that what you have made will work. The rest of the time, don’t use them for the same reason – in a SHTF situation, you’ll want to know that you can get fire started without them.
How to Make Your Own Fire Starter Straws
For this project, you’ll need:
Putting it together:
- Cut the drinking straws into lengths of about 2.5″ each. You can actually cut the straws into any length you want depending on where you’ll be storing them. Mine are going into pill bottle survival kits, so I’m cutting them to fit in there.
- Using your pliers, pinch off one end of the straw and burn it closed with the lighter. I like to use a butane wind resistant lighterv for projects – the flame melts the plastic faster.
- Take 1 cotton ball and work a little petroleum jelly into it. When I say “a little petroleum jelly” I mean VERY little. You won’t need more than about 1/8 of a teaspoon (if you really want to measure). I found this out the hard way when I glopped a ton of Vaseline on a cotton ball the first time. It was a HUGE mess!
- Stretch out the cotton ball and twist it up a bit. This will help work the petroleum jelly into it more, and it will make it easier to stuff into the straw.
- Slide the end of the cotton into the straw and continue to twist while you push it in. If you need some help with this part, use your pliers to help push the cotton into the straw (you could also use a chopstick, bamboo skewer or something of the sort here, too).
- Once you have the cotton ball completely shoved into the straw, wipe the open end clean, clamp it off with the pliers, and burn it shut with the lighter again.
Using Your Homemade Fire Starter Straws
To use your cool new fire starters, you can cut them from end to end and pull all of the cotton out, or cut off a tiny snip from the very end and pull out just a little of the cotton (so you can seal the end back again and save some of the fire starter straw for another usage). Fluff the cotton up a bit so it’s closer to the consistency of cotton candy than matted dog hair. All you need is a spark to set the cotton ablaze – a ferro rod works, but you can strike a match if you want. You may even be able to use your lighter to get a spark to it without using any of your fluid in the process.
Remember, you’re igniting petroleum here, so be careful. You don’t want to burn off your eyebrows.
Where to Keep Your Fire Starter Straws
Now that you have some emergency fire starters, you’ll want to put a few of them in every survival kit you have – your bug-out bag, get home bag, tackle box, vehicle emergency kit, pill bottle survival kit, hunting bag – anywhere you think you could possibly need them.
More Tips for Fire Starter Straws
- If you would rather, you can store the Vaseline-laden cotton in a pill bottle or 35mm film cannister. This will allow you to store more at a time in one place, but it takes up a little more room.
- You can use dryer lint in place of cotton balls, but it makes a bigger mess and doesn’t hold flame as well as cotton (because you can’t fluff-up dryer lint very well).
- If you don’t want to burn the plastic, you can fold the end over, crimp it, and slip a little piece of straw around it to hold it closed.
- Just because this cotton will stay lit for a few minutes doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be ready to get a fire going first. Always be sure to have your tinder and fire bundle ready before you light the fire starter straw.
- Straws come in all different thicknesses and some are wider than others. The wider the straw, the easier it is to get the cotton into.
- Don’t limit your straws to only being fire starter straws. Cut them to any length you want and fill them with anything you want – matches… fishing line, a weight and a hook… salt, pepper, or other spices… the possibilities are only limited by the size of the straw and what you’re trying to put into it.