Fire-starting tips for the great outdoors

Anyone who has ever spent a few days in the wild knows one important skill to have is the ability to create a camp fire. For your next camping trip, keep these handy fire-starting tips in mind - it'll save you a lot of hassle!

Fire-starting tips for the great outdoors

Scrounge around for old film canisters

If you still use a film camera, horde your film canisters for use when hiking or camping out. These convenient, waterproof containers with their snap-on, leakproof lids are great for storing matches, small batteries or other small items that could leave you high and dry or in danger if they become wet and unusable. If you've made the switch to a digital camera and don't have easy access to film canisters, use old pill bottles instead.

A nifty tin-can fire starter

It's cheaper and more eco-friendly to start a campfire without lighter fluid. Instead, try building a fire with this homespun, fluidless charcoal starter.

Cut both ends off an old three litre (one gallon) can. Punch several holes near the bottom of the can, then punch two holes near the top and insert a length of coat hanger wire through them to form a handle. When it comes time to start a fire, set the can in the fire pit, place a piece of crumpled newspaper in the bottom and lay briquettes on top of the newspaper. Light the paper through the holes punched at the bottom. When the briquettes are glowing, lift the can away with the wire handle — which will be burning hot so be sure to wear gloves or use tongs when grabbing it.

Tin-can candleholder

Don't curse the darkness. Instead, make a reflective candleholder. After opening a large can of cat food or tuna, be sure to keep the lid partially attached. Once the can is empty, wash it and bend back the lid so it faces straight up. Put a candle inside and then place the can so the lid blocks the wind. The candle will burn steadily — and seem all the brighter because the lid will reflect the light.

Great (cotton) balls o' fire

Nothing's more frustrating than trying to start a fire when the wood is damp and won't ignite, so here's a trick to warm an outdoor enthusiast's heart.

Pack a dozen or so cotton balls heavily saturated with petroleum jelly in a plastic bag. When a fire just won't get going, place several of the balls among the paper scraps and kindling and light them. Then get those marshmallows ready, since the petroleum jelly usually burns long enough to get even the most reluctant campfire blazing.

Repurpose breath-mint tins

Once you've finished your breath mints, save the tin for your next outdoor outing. A tin with a tight lid is great weatherproof carryall for:

  • Fishing hooks and artificial flies
  • Matches
  • Aspirin
  • Packets of sugar and artificial sweeteners
  • Safety pins
  • Loose change and keys you don't want to carry in your pockets while fishing, hiking or doing other outdoor activities.

You'll be the king or queen of the campfire with these handy fire-starting tricks up your sleeve. Happy s'mores!

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