A Sweet Way to Light a Fire

April 12, 2015   |   Tips

Petroleum-saturated cotton balls are excellent firestarters, even in windy and rainy conditions. I’ve always carried five or six of these in a 35mm film canister. You don’t use them all the time, but they are great to have in your pack and can be easily ignited with a lighter, match, or ferro rod.

A down side of stuffing them into the film can is that they mush together and become one giant messy glob of cotton and Vaseline.

Lately I’ve been wrapping the soaked cotton balls in a 4”x5” piece of waxed paper and twisting the ends. This results in what reminds me of a piece of salt water taffy. Place a handful of these in a plastic bag and include it with your fire kit. You’ll always know how many you have at a glance. The waxed paper weighs next to nothing.

I don’t at all miss the messy hands after teasing out a cotton ball from a film canister. The edges of the waxed paper light easily. If you are using a spark to light the fire, just untwist the paper to expose the cotton. It’s a sweet way to carry and use these firestarters. No mess, no fuss.



Deacon Kevin Richardson

Kevin is a Catholic Deacon who serves in a parish setting and works with adults and teens, incarcerated individuals, and people who are homeless. He grew up in New England and spent decades exploring, hiking, and camping in the forests of New Hampshire.

Deacon Kevin leads Holy Adventure Outdoor Ministry, located in Central Illinois, and provides unique outdoor programs and retreat opportunities (from several hours to multiple days) to encounter God while immersed in the beauty and simplicity of God’s creation. Programs are Bible based and offer an introduction to a wide variety of wilderness living and survival skills.