Another Great DIY Firestarter

We’ve talked about DIY firestarters before, especially fire straws. This is another project, just slightly more involved, that brings excellent results.

Here’s what you’ll need:
–Strike anywhere matches
–Toilet paper
–A couple old candles

First, you’ll need to melt the candles. What I’ve found works well is to take an old tin can, empty and washed out, of course, and fill it about 2/3 full with pieces of broken candles. Heat a pan of water a few inches deep and place the tin can in the water. You might need to play around a little bit with the water level so the can will sit without tipping over. What you’ve done is make a crude double-boiler. As the water heats, it will melt the wax. Stir it from time to time using a twig to break up the chunks.

While that’s heating, lay out a handful of matches. Tear off individual squares of toilet paper. If you’re using kitchen size matches, tear each square in half. If you’re using the smaller matches, tear the squares into thirds. For our purposes, we’ll assume you’re using the kitchen size ones.

Roll the toilet paper around the matches, using one torn strip per match. What you want is to have the edge of the strip just below the head of the match. Roll it tight and give it a slight twist at the top and bottom of the match when you’re done to help keep the paper in place.

Once the wax has all melted, dip each match into it. It doesn’t really matter which end you do first as you’ll end up doing both. If the tin can is small, you may find it easier to use tongs so you don’t end up with hot wax on your fingers. After dipping each match about halfway, lay them out on aluminum foil to dry.

Once they’re cool enough to touch, dip the other ends, being sure to cover the entire match with wax. Lay them out to cool again.

When you go to light one, carefully chip off the wax on the match head. You want to do this lightly so you don’t light the match too soon. When the head is uncovered, ruffle the exposes toilet paper a bit, then strike the match. Hold it down for a second to help it light the toilet paper and wax, then place into your tinder.

It will burn for several minutes, giving you plenty of time to get the tinder and then kindling going.

Published by

Jim Cobb

Jim Cobb has been a student of survivalism and emergency preparedness for almost thirty years. As a young child, he drove his parents nuts with stockpiling supplies in the basement every time he heard there was a tornado watch in his area. Of course, being a child, those supplies consisted of his teddy bear, a few blankets and pillows, and random canned goods he grabbed from the kitchen cabinets. Later, he was the first (and likely only) child in his fifth grade class to have bought his very own copy of Life After Doomsday by Bruce Clayton. Today, he is a freelance writer whose work has been published in national magazines such as Boy’s Life and Complete Survivalist Magazine. He is a voracious reader with a keen interest in all stories with post-apocalyptic settings. He maintains the Library at the End of the World blog and is also the Content Director for He currently resides in a fortified bunker in the upper Midwest, accompanied by his lovely wife and their three adolescent Weapons of Mass Destruction. Jim's first book, Prepper's Home Defense, was published late 2012 and his second book, tentatively titled The Prepper's Complete Guide to Disaster Readiness, will be out in mid-2013, both coming from Ulysses Press.

One thought on “Another Great DIY Firestarter”

  1. cotton balls and petroleum jelly from the dollar store work great store in a tobacco tin and your off ive used em and there cheap reliable

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