Vaseline & Cotton Balls – the Perfect Fire Starter?


Looking for fire starters that are as good for the backpack as for the backyard? Look no further. Using Vaseline and cotton balls is as simple as can be and incredibly effective. While there are many commercially manufactured fire starters the Vaseline cotton ball works just as well and superior in many cases.


Making the Vaseline Cotton Ball Fire Starter

You cannot get much simpler – or cheaper.

Putting these together is easy. First, buy a container of petroleum jelly. This does not have to be the brand-name Vaseline but make sure it is 100%. The dollar store has large containers for only $1.00.

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Next, get a bag of cotton balls. Make sure these are 100% cotton as they take a spark the best.

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Then – grab a cotton ball and swab it inside the jar of Vaseline covering up to 3/4 of the ball with the petroleum jelly. While you could cover the entire cotton ball I prefer to leave some of the cotton dry so it can be ignited with a spark.

Lastly – throw the Vaseline covered cotton balls in a Ziploc bag.


Fire Starting Tip: Save an old prescription bottle and stuff 10-12 Vaseline cotton balls inside. This is a very lightweight supply of fire starters that can be used many times.


Starting a Fire With the Vaseline Cotton Ball

These small petroleum jelly covered cotton balls are highly flammable. They can be ignited via any spark or flame source including ferro rods, matches, lighters, etc. The dry cotton fibers can be targeted for ignition or the jelly itself. Using a ferro rod a spark or two hitting the cotton will generate flake – and then ignite the petroleum jelly.

Below I am using a ferro rod and tool sharpener to shower sparks onto a Vaseline cotton ball.



Are Vaseline Cotton Balls The Perfect Fire Starter?

Vaseline cotton balls are wind resistant, waterproof, lightweight, long lasting, inexpensive – and easily ignited. If these features match what would be considered a “perfect” fire starter then I guess they are. The only drawback I can find using Vaseline cotton balls is they can be a mess to make. That’s it.

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Vaseline Cotton Balls: Not Just For Survival

Can’t tell you how many times I’ve started a fire in the backyard fire pit with cotton balls or dryer lint covered with Vaseline. I’ve also been the hero at a neighbors cookout a few dozen times as the “man of the house” couldn’t get a fire going and I bring out a Ziploc bag and work my magic.

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Yes – Vaseline cotton balls are not just for survival and sitting comfortably in a bug out bag. Perfect for camping as well.



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