Friday, June 2, 2023


Easy ways to make your own lightweight fire starters

One of the best parts about camping in the springtime and fall is that a campfire feels so good! You’ve still got time before summer’s heat forces you to forgo this camping tradition. All you need are a few tips for making your own fire starters…

  • Soft starters. Coat cotton balls in petroleum jelly for a great fire starter. This starter is lightweight and you most likely have the ingredients right in your medicine cabinet. Store the starters inside a plastic zip bag for easy transport, or make ‘em as you need ‘em.
  • No mo’ wining. Fill a mason jar (or any tightly sealing container) with rubbing alcohol. Put wine bottle corks into the jar to soak until they are needed.
  • Stuff it. Here’s a free idea! Save your empty cardboard tubes. Fill a tube with dryer lint. Store the starters inside a zip-tight bag. You’re welcome!
  • Egg-actly right. Fill cardboard egg carton sections with dryer lint. Pour melted wax over the lint and allow time to dry. Afterwards, cut apart the sections and store in an airtight container.
  • TP to the rescue. Tightly wrap a length of toilet paper around a stick match, being careful not to cover over the striking end of the match. Dip the entire thing into melted wax and set aside to dry. When you’re ready for a fire, scrape away the wax from the match’s strike end, and light.
  • Orange you so glad it’s free? Save those orange peels. They contain limonene oil, a flammable substance. Once the peelings are dried, you can use them as a fire starter. Who knew?
  • A second chance. Give those dried-out alcohol wipes a second chance. They will ignite and burn more slowly than paper towels or tissues. (Hey! Isn’t that better than tossing them into the trash?)
  • Duct tape. Why not? You use it for almost everything else, right? Just cut or tear it into strips, then lay a strip over kindling and light one end of the tape.
  • Doritos. Any greasy chips will work because the oil is flammable. Just be sure to save a few chips for munching around the campfire!
  • Cotton string. Dip a length of cotton string into melted wax to make this fire starter. Place the prepared string onto a newspaper to dry. Then cut the dried wax string into shorter lengths. Store in a watertight container. (These are so lightweight! They’re great for backpacking.)

Choose the starter that’s easiest for you. Then, make up several starters at a time. If you make your fire starters at home, before you jump into your RV and trek to the campground, you’ll be ready to light that campfire and get the party started!

Do you make your own fire starters? Tell us about your method in the comments below.



Gail Marsh
Gail Marsh
Gail Marsh is an avid RVer and occasional work camper. Retired from 30+ years in the field of education as an author and educator, she now enjoys sharing tips and tricks that make RVing easier and more enjoyable.


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2 months ago

We use shredded paper, stuff into an ice cube tray and pour melted bulk wax when hard, remove and cut in half ( we use a hatchet and a hammer ) works great for our wood stove!

you can thank me later. 😂☮️✌🏻

Bart McGlinsey
2 months ago

My wife makes them from the wood shavings I bring from work. She then makes them with scented candle wax and a wick, then puts it in a small dixie cup,

We hand them out to fellow campers for free just break the ice. Actually, they come in great when you first get to your sight or after a rain.
Plus they smell nice!

2 months ago

Tampons, I keep them in the atv and snowmobile. dip it in the fuel via the string, soak up the fuel and you have an excellent fire starter

Neal Davis
2 months ago

Great! Thank you, Gail!

2 months ago

We use shredded paper from our paper shredder and my wife saves the wax from wax warmers and we just heat the wax and pour it into cupcake paper liners with some shredded paper and let dry. Throw them in a walmart bag. They work great.

2 months ago

I use TP empty rolls, dryer lint, dryer sheets and hot wax from the old scented wax melt pots. Roll up a wad of lint in the dryer sheets, roll or dip it into the warm melted wax, stuff into the cardboard rolls. Lightweight but a little bulky but dispose of several items all at once. I use old plastic 1 gal ice cream buckets to save them into.

Patti G
2 months ago

Sawdust in small paper cups or egg cartons sealed with wax. Or fold 5 or 6 newspaper pages like a fan. Tie cotton string around the middle and dip it in wax to keep it waterproof.

2 months ago

Lighter fluid and a torch with a sparker. Starts a fire in about two seconds! Alas, I have now succumbed to a propane fire pit.

2 months ago

Dryer lint only works if you dry natural fibers like cotton, wool, hemp, linen. Synthetic lint fibers will not burn. A lot of clothes, towels and sheets are synthetic based. Try lighting a clump of lint before committing it to fire starting.

2 months ago

I just buy a box of the fire starter bricks at Walmart. One brick can be broken into 8 pieces and 1 piece usually is plenty to start a fire.

Bill Byerly
2 months ago
Reply to  Mike

I use the same thing. RV camping or at home in the wood stove

2 months ago

Alcohol soaked wine corks are great. 90 strength alcohol works best.

2 months ago

We gather the drier lint in paper tubes. They work great, are free, and easy to store.

Tom H.
2 months ago

We’ve used dryer lint before and it works. I need to make up a few more.

2 months ago
Reply to  Tom H.

I would try the drier lint for the sake of recycling but it’s just so much easier to pack a box of Fatwood. It costs about $7, lasts a couple of years, and takes a whole lot less space.

Larry H Lee
2 months ago
Reply to  Dan

Agree except I don’t like the way fatwood creates a lot of black smoke

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