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Add to the Never-Ending List of Fire Starters

Every fire needs fuel and that’s where tinder, kindling and firewood come into play.

Man lighting a fire in a dark winter forest

So what “fuel” can you use to start a campfire? Check out this list of traditional and off-the-wall ideas that will get your campfire ignited with the help of a match, lighter or friction. Scroll on to add your own ideas to this list.

Note: Don’t experiment with fire starters.

Fire Starters

  • Twigs
  • Cotton balls
  • Chips
  • Rope
  • A dry, fallen tree branch
  • Newspaper
  • Cotton squares
  • Twine
  • Cardboard – Martin from San Diego, California
  • Dry leaves – Tyler from Arlington, Virginia 
  • Magnesium shavings – Alexis from Royal Oak, Michigan
  • Pencil shavings – Harrison from Rancho Santa Margarita, California
  • Dryer lint – Mark, Ryan and Andy
  • Wax-covered egg cartons – Phillip from Oak Lawn, Illinois
  • SOL Phoenix Firestarter – John from Brooks, Georgia
  • Dry grass – Jacob from San Antonio, Texas
  • Crayon – Josh from Toledo, Ohio
  • Corn chips – Jeff from Joliet, Illinois
  • Grapevine – Gene from Johnston, Ohio
  • Birch bark (dry) – Christopher, Rob and William
  • Cotton ball with vaseline – Ethan and Mitch
  • Cattail plant – Wyatt, David and Jason
  • Char cloth – Monica from Fayetteville, New Carolina
  • Crystalized spruce sap – Monica from Fayetteville, New Carolina
  • White Castle boxes – Kevin from St. Louis, Missouri
  • Wax paper – Paul from Overland Park, Kansas
  • Pine needles in wax paper – Michelle from New Jersey
  • Doritos – Levi from Dubuque, Iowa
  • Jute twine (pulled apart) – Carroll from Naperville, Illinois
  • Wood shavings – Ron from Willow Springs, Illinois
  • Fire piston – Barry from Tulsa, Oklahoma
  • Dead pine needles – Zayden from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
  • Pine cones – John from Saginaw, Michigan
  • Milkweed fluff – Liam from Kearney, Nebraska
  • “Sapwood” (pinetree core) – Ethan from Brownstown, Pennsylvania
  • Petroleum jelly – Adin from Brownstown, Pennsylvania
  • Steel wool and 9-volt battery – Aidan from Beloit, Wisconsin
  • Punk wood – Brenden from Aiken, South Carolina 
  • Chapstick – Elaine from Brown Mills, New Jersey
  • Flint and steel – Ryan from Downingtown, Pennsylvania
  • Pine bedding (for small animals) – Shelby from North Carolina
  • Wax – Arnav from Atlanta, Georgia
  • Dried corn cobs – Amy from Cobleskill, New York
  • Paper plates – Aiden from Murray, Kentucky
  • Paper – Lucas from Sherwood, Oregon
  • Olive oil – Liam from Naperville, Illinois
  • Q-tips – Liam from Naperville, Illinois
  • Aluminum – Manil from Bethesda, Maryland
  • Wood flakes – Alexander from Elgin, Texas
  • Cheetos – Will from Martinez, Georgia
  • LEGO instructions  – Bryan from Durham, North Carolina
  • Spare clothes – Nylian from Wilsonville, Oregon
  • Notebook paper – Benjamin from Sugarland, Texas
  • Fritos – Abe from Overland Park, Kansas
  • Dried banana peels – Colin from Cohasset, Massachusetts 
  • Orange peels – Isabella from Chantilly, Virginia
  • Shredded paper –Tristan from Mililani, Hawaii
  • Wallet – Bradley from Fauquier, Virginia
  • Homework (make sure it’s graded first!) – Ethan from Franklin, Tennessee
  • Comics – Henry from Richmond, Virginia
  • Battery and gum wrapper – Andrew from Purvis, Mississippi
  • Condy’s crystals and sugar – Don
  • Duct tape – Joe from Narvon, Pennsylvania
  • Char cloth nugget – Dennis from St. Charles, Illinois
  • Toilet paper tubes – Zachary from Oak Lawn, Illinois
  • Acorns – Jimmy
  • Wood logs – Jack
  • Bacon fat on string – Vincent from Tooele, Utah
  • Tissue – Josiah from Roseburg, Oregon
  • Bark – Matt from Manassas, Virginia
  • Lip balm – Michael from Evanston, Virginia
  • Char cloth – Levi from Dubuque, Iowa
  • Clothing fuzz – Nathan from Perkasie, Pennsylvania
  • Wax soaked newspaper roll – Dave from East Northport, New York
  • A shirt – Zack from Taylors, South Carolina
  • Sawdust – Andy from Inuit, Arkansas
  • Funyuns –  Kaylee from Wyoming

This list needs your ideas to become the longest fire-starter idea list ever! Use the form below to send us your fire-starting tips:

Bookmark this page in case you’re ever in a pinch and need to get inventive to start a safe campfire.

Be Careful With Fire and Fire Starters

Fire can be dangerous. It requires care and respect. Don’t try to start a fire with a substance that could unleash toxic chemicals, and never burn something that contains paint.

For more info on how to start a fire safely, check out our post on how to build a campfire.

8 Comments on Add to the Never-Ending List of Fire Starters

  1. Young scouts are timid with matches and flames. I have them practice lighting and burning match sticks down to 1/2″ from the end. They learn how to shield the matches from the breeze and tip the matches up or down to control the burn. They also learn how to place firewood into the growing campfire

  2. I disagree, you SHOULD practice at home (with your parents)(ouside).
    How can you get good at anything if you don’t practice (safely)?

  3. Clippertrees // May 7, 2021 at 7:14 am // Reply

    Very informative post. Thank you for sharing!

  4. That’s a really long list of fire starters!

  5. Old name tag

  6. One is cloth

  7. awsome

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