Have you found yourself down to your last match stick as you try to light damp newspaper to get that camp fire going? The wind’s too strong for your lighter. The tinder blows away. You’re desperate for a fire to make a coffee, heat you up, and for smoke to drive away the midges which are eating you alive? I have a secret… and a local pharmacist who eyes me with suspicion when I say I’m off camping so need to buy some Vaseline.
Vaseline is a petroleum based gel, and as such burns like billy-o. Cotton balls are an effective carrying agent and work like a large, fluffy wick. These marvelous homemade firelighters burn very hot, and I’ve successfully got damp wood alight using them. If you wish to look manly (and competent) using a spark from firesteel to get your camp fire going, give these a try.
Squidge them up in a small plastic container or freezer bag, and they’re a fraction of the size and weight (and cost) of conventional firelighters, and hold a flame far better (even in strong winds and when damp).
If you’re being lazy and using a lighter to get them going, don’t hold them in your fingers, as the Vaseline can make them stick to you and you’ll find yourself shaking your hand like crazy and entertaining the kids. Wrap them round a bit of twig to save scorched fingertips, or if using a striker, lay them down where you want the fire to start. The Vaseline, again, helps stop the cotton ball blow away if the wind’s up.