September 22, 2011

Tinder - Cotton balls and wax

In building my fire kit, I stopped at Sportsman's Warehouse recently and picked up Coghlan's Flint Striker for around $4. I needed some tinder and from what I read online, cotton balls and Vaseline work good. The problem was the only cotton balls I could find were at the bottom of a box we had in our bathroom, and had a few years worth of haircut shavings embedded in them. I knew my wife would kill me if I dipped these cotton balls in her Vaseline.

I opted instead to use candle wax. We had a few candles in small glasses (like shot glasses) hanging around. I lit the wick, and tipped the candle so the wax would drip on the cotton balls. By tipping the candle, I melted the wax faster as well. I coated both sides like this, until my wick ran out. I still had one half of the candle unburnt, and didn't want to waste it.

I made a aluminum foil pan, and melted the rest of the wax on the stove with a low heat. I then used my multi-tool pliers to dip the cotton balls in the melted wax. Those cotton balls sucked up the wax, and I soon ran out of wax with a few uncoated cotton balls left over.

So I ended up with a few untouched cotton balls, half a dozen drip-coated, and half a dozen dipped-coated cotton balls. I decided this would be a good test of the procedures of prepping cotton balls for tinder use. For the purposes of this test, I timed from ignition until the flame disappeared.

No preparations - Less than 1 minute
Dripped on wax - 5 minutes
Dipped in wax - 9 minutes

No preparation left you with too short of a time to get a fire going easily. Dripped on wax gave you plenty of time to get your kindling lit. With the Dipped cotton balls, they dry and are encrusted in wax. You will have to cut them open and fluff up some cotton to catch the spark. As far as using cotton balls and wax as tinder, I am very impressed. I like it so much, I will be using this method to light my charcoal chimney for my BBQ when at home, instead of newspapers.

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