Fire straws

I stumbled across this idea a while back somewhere online. I wish I could remember where I first saw it as I’d like to give credit where credit is due. This is a great little project and takes very little time to complete.

Here’s what you need:
–Plastic straws
–Petroleum jelly
–Cotton balls
–Plastic baggie
–Lighter, matches, or a candle
–Small pliers
–A long, very thin stick. Bamboo skewers like the kind for grilling food work well.

Place a dollop of the petroleum jelly in the baggie and add some cotton balls. Close the baggie and squish the jelly and cotton balls together. Work at it for a bit to get the cotton balls saturated.

Use the scissors to cut the straws roughly in half. Light your flame source and, one at a time, hold one end of each straw near the heat to soften it. Then, take your pliers and crimp the end closed.

Open the baggie and start filling each straw with the jelly soaked cotton. Use the stick to push it down into the straw. Fill each straw to about 3/4″ from the open end. Then, seal the end like you did before.

To use, simply slit the straw with a knife or razor and pull out a bit of the cotton. Fluff it up before lighting. You don’t have to pull it all out, just a bit of it. It’ll burn long enough to get your other tinder going very well.

Until you slit them open, they are completely waterproof. Very small and easy to keep in your pocket and/or various survival kits.

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.

6 thoughts on “Fire straws”

  1. I think I saw this on youtube. Other recommendations for the use of straws included carrying personal servings of instant coffee, sugar, bouillion, etc; Also suggested using a hypo type plunger to force things like sunscreen, shampoo, or other items used in small quantities for carrying in a BOB or for camping/hiking.
    Have bought the straws and got some plungers from the local pharmacy but haven’t got them filled yet.
    I think this is a great way to waterproof small items, even OTC meds and such, for light weight carrying.

  2. I like this idea and plan to utilize it for BOBs and just for going on short trips. The less baggage the better if lightweight packs are necessary.

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