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Do These Five Campsite Items and Snacks Work as Fire Starters?


Just like when you bake a cake, you need ingredients to start a campfire.

First, you need heat. That comes from matches. Then you need oxygen. As long as you’re lighting a fire outside (and you’re on Earth), oxygen is all around you. Last, you need fuel.

That’s where tinder, kindling and firewood come into play.

Striking a Balance

Starting a fire isn’t as simple as holding a match close to a piece of firewood.

You have to build your fire slowly using tinder, kindling and logs. Tinder is anything that burns quickly after you light it. Think of this as step 1 in the recipe of getting your fire burning. Kindling is step 2 in that process. If it can catch on fire easily but not burn as fast as tinder, it qualifies as kindling.

Like a chain reaction, you can arrange your fire fuel in a way that once the tinder catches fire, it ignites the kindling — which slowly catches your larger fuel wood that will burn for a long time. But it all starts when your match meets tinder.

BL-Tested Fire Starters

So what makes good tinder for a campfire? You probably know dry twigs and leaves do. But what about some other items you might have stashed away on a campout?

We put five campsite items and snacks to the test. Guess if each item will work to start a fire, then play the corresponding video to see if you’re right!

Note: We did the testing so you don’t have to. Don’t experiment with tinder at home.


WHY THEY MIGHT WORK: They’re dry and small like twigs.

WHY THEY MIGHT FAIL: The ingredients that make a cheese puff edible might not sustain a flame (even if it’s the Flamin’ Hot variety).



WHY THEY MIGHT WORK: We know super-dry twigs work as tinder. And carrots are about the same size.

WHY THEY MIGHT FAIL: Carrots have a lot of water in them. Water puts out fires



WHY IT MIGHT WORK: Steel wool has a reputation as a great fire starter when you don’t have a match handy.

WHY IT MIGHT FAIL: Just because it might produce a spark, that doesn’t mean steel wool can produce the flame required of tinder.



WHY THEY MIGHT WORK: Tinder is usually not dense but takes up a lot of surface area. That’s true with cotton balls.

WHY THEY MIGHT FAIL: You use cotton balls to clean wounds. That’s nothing like starting a fire.



WHY THEY MIGHT WORK: They’re dry. They’re tubular like some twigs.

WHY THEY MIGHT FAIL: There are chemicals in Twizzlers that make them safe to eat. But we’re not sure if these chemicals will fuel a flame or not.


Fire is No Joke!

Fire can be dangerous. It requires care and respect. Remember these fire-safety tips:

• Never play around fire.
• Never try to start a fire with a substance that could unleash toxic chemicals. Never burn something that contains paint.
• Never leave a fire to burn without supervision.
• Before you leave, make sure your fire is completely out (no longer smoking, with ashes cool to the touch).

You never know when you’ll need to think outside the box on a campout. Add to our never-ending list of fire-starter ideas.

17 Comments on Do These Five Campsite Items and Snacks Work as Fire Starters?

  1. Lint from a dryer

  2. the man of mans of men of me // December 12, 2021 at 8:41 pm // Reply

    steel wool looks cool!

  3. I like that cheetos work. XD

  4. buddyboy_123 // January 4, 2021 at 9:36 pm // Reply

    I love how easily cotton balls can be tinder I mean I could use that trick any day

  5. I use cattails sometimes

  6. I thought that Steel wool would make something better than a spark 😭

  7. bsa is so fun especially this

  8. berch bark is grate for starting big fires fast

  9. A girl in scouts // November 6, 2020 at 6:19 am // Reply

    This is so cool

  10. I love being a Boy Scout

  11. Doritos obviously work

  12. Use a combo of wax and shredded paper

  13. coolguy 6497 // November 1, 2020 at 7:06 pm // Reply


  14. Convict: Tenderfoot of Troop 70 // October 28, 2020 at 7:26 pm // Reply

    shredded paper is an awesome fire starter, ask a nearby office for shredded papers.

  15. Lil Bigg Dawggg // October 26, 2020 at 12:19 pm // Reply

    Doritos work but I have heard that the ones with barely any seasoning work best

  16. Doritos work too.

  17. Fritos work as fire starters because of their oil content.

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