Skills Card: Starting an Emergency Fire

No. 4 on our list of 25 things every hunter should know. Download it below, then print it out, take it home or even hunting.

Store-bought fire starters, such as WetFire, are easy to pack and they work. WetFire comes in small, individually packaged dry pellets of compressed fire starter that can be shaved into a tinder bundle or broken up and spread among kindling. They burn very hot (over 1,300 degrees), even when wet. Fire Paste is another effective commercial fire starter. Smear it into a tinder bundle or wipe it on some kindling, then pile more kindling on top and light it. Fire Sticks are a little bulkier but also work well.

They are made of compressed sawdust and infused with an accelerant to help the solid material catch and hold a flame. But you don’t have to buy fire starters. Here are some natural ones that work.


Pitchwood: When sap floods into a tree wound, the wood becomes heavy and brittle as pitchwood is formed.

Bird’s Nest:
If you can find one, these are ready-made tinder bundles.

Dry Grasses: You can make your own bird’s nest by twisting dry grass stalks together into a tight bundle.

Shredded Tree Bark:
Some trees, such as juniper and cedar, have an inner bark layer that can be shredded and also twisted into a tight tinder bundle.

Lint: You can make a fire starter from dryer lint or cotton balls by saturating them with melted candle wax or Vaseline and compressing them into marble-sized pellets.

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