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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.

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

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

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

    Very informative post. Thank you for sharing!

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

  4. Old name tag

  5. One is cloth

  6. awsome

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