UPDATE 2021: I have not made these fire starters in years.  This is not to say they were not effec­tive, they cer­tain­ly were.  They were an amaz­ing aid when we went camp­ing and prac­ticed fire-start­ing skills.  They act­ed as a great accel­er­ant, espe­cial­ly if all you had was a bic lighter with you.

I have since stan­dard­ized on sev­er­al dif­fer­ent types of fire-start­ing accel­er­ants in my bug out bag, get home bag, and more…


Every time I go camp­ing I make sure I stop at the out­door store and pick up some quick start fire sticks.  Gen­er­al­ly, they are not expen­sive and help to make start­ing the fire a breeze.  But what if there were no store.  What if it were a sit­u­a­tion where my sur­vival depends upon cre­at­ing heat, and I was in the mid­dle of nowhere with no shel­ter.  What if it were rain­ing and my tin­der was wet?  Good ques­tions I have been ask­ing myself.  Short of learn­ing prim­i­tive fire mak­ing meth­ods (which will be includ­ed in a sur­vival class I am tak­ing at Prac­ti­cal Prim­i­tive in August 2009), I want­ed to find a way to make an inex­pen­sive alter­na­tive that is light­weight, easy to make, and will do the trick in a pinch with a fer­ro rod, match, or lighter.

Fire Stick Raw Materials | Suburban Survival Blog

So, my research led me to a cou­ple of sites online that described mak­ing your own fire sticks.  The basic ingre­di­ents that I chose to use were; string (I used den­tal floss), cor­ru­gat­ed card­board with one side of it peeled off, and a bar of can­dle wax I bought from a craft store near­by.

First, I cut a cou­ple dozen pieces of card­board, all about the same size.  Then I rolled them into cylin­ders with the skin side out and the wavey cor­ru­gat­ed side on the inside.  I tied each one of them in the cen­ter with the den­tal floss, which is already wax coat­ed.  Note: in hind­sight, I would have used reg­u­lar string because when we dip these into the melt­ed wax, the wax on the den­tal floss loosens and gives the fire stick a lit­tle play.

I then melt­ed my wax in a dou­ble burn­er (water in one pot and wax in a pot sub­merged in the water) to safe­ly melt the wax with­out burn­ing or boil­ing it in the pot.  I then used my Leather­man mul­ti-tool to dip each cylinder/fire stick in the wax until the exte­ri­or and the inte­ri­or was coat­ed, let the excess drip off, and placed it on a sheet of alu­minum fol to cool.   I did this until I was fin­ished and below, see the end result.

I test­ed a few, and they burned hot for about five or six min­utes each, which should be long enough to dry out some tin­der and get a small fire going.  I plan on mak­ing more of these and using them when camp­ing, hik­ing, and keep­ing in my gear bags.  I plan on mak­ing dif­fer­ent sizes and den­si­ties to exper­i­ment with what size might be the best for me to use when in the field.

It only took about an hour to make the bag of them you see below, and by the time I was done, felt like I had accom­plished a lit­tle more in my quest to be pre­pared.

Completed Bag of Fire Sticks for Camping and Prepping | Suburban Survival Blog

Com­plet­ed Bag of Fire Sticks for Camp­ing and Prep­ping | Sub­ur­ban Sur­vival Blog

Here are a cou­ple of the resources that I found.  You will be able to see clear­ly where I got my idea from:

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