When You Need Fire The Most, Conditions For It Are At Their Worst…

By on April 22, 2013
firebug

A few weeks back I did a product update on InstaFire. I got a lot of great feedback and comments from you guys and one of them stuck out in particular.

Rick Shultz told me about a neat little fire starter that he learned how to make over 20 years ago, that may be another option if you are more of the DIY type.

He emailed me a picture of these “firebugs” and was kind enough to include an article on how to make them (see below):

In a survival situation, your well-being and, quite possibly, your life may depend on being able to get a fire going in a hurry.

There are many different primitive methods of making fire,but all of them have one key problem…

Not even the most experienced survivalist is guaranteed a warm fire EVERY time.

This is why a dependable fire starter is a vital piece of any survival equipment

To be really useful, it must, in my humble opinion, meet at least two key criteria…

First, it must be self-igniting. It simply defeats the purpose of a fire starter if you must light the fire starter with a match or other source of flame.

It’s really just tinder at that point.

Second, it must be weatherproof. It must function after being dropped in water or snow, or carried in a wet pocket. Enter the firebug.

I don’t know who named them, but it wasn’t me because they were already being called that when I started making them 20 years ago, and they’ll still outdo anything you can buy at an outfitter’s shop at 10 times the price.

A firebug is basically just a bunch of Diamond brand strike-anywhere kitchen matches lashed together with waxed dental floss  and soaked in paraffin wax to provide a long burn time and to weatherproof them.

If they’re made properly they will ignite by themselves and burn two or maybe even three times as long as store-bought ones.

Now that I’ve introduced you all to these handy little woofers, let’s get into to how you can make them.

First, here’s a list of the stuff you need to make firebugs.

Most of this you either already have at home or can be picked up at any hardware store (except for the dental floss).

Ingredients:

  1. 1 box of waxed dental floss (at least 50 yards worth)
  2. A coupled of large boxes of strike anywhere kitchen size matches ( the ones that are 2 ¼”  long).

Only strike-anywhere matches will work!!

  1. A couple of pound size blocks of paraffin wax from the canning supplies.
  2. A shallow/wide saucepan that’s deep enough for the matches stand on end inside it.

Instructions:

When you get everything together, you can set the paraffin aside for a while because you don’t need it for the first part of making a batch of these.

1. Gather groups of 10 strike-anywhere matches together with the heads all pointing one way, and lash them together with the dental floss.

Be fairly generous with the floss and leave a inch or two when you tie the last knot to hold them by when you dip them in the paraffin. Make as many of these as you want to be in the batch you’re doing.

2. After you’ve made as many as you want or need, get out the saucepan.

Start the burner on the very lowest heat setting you’ve got because paraffin has a fairly low flash point and if you let it get too hot, it will flash and you will have a fire you’d have to see to believe!!

In fact, if possible, this part should be done outdoors. However you decide to melt the was make sure you have plenty of ventilation and that a chemical or CO2 extinguisher is handy.

**If the paraffin starts to smoke, it’s getting too hot and you need to quickly but carefully slide it off the heat to let it cool. **

Just a hint or two on safety: It wouldn’t hurt to wear goggles and gloves too. Put one or two 1/2lb blocks of paraffin in the saucepan and carefully heat it until it melts.

3. After it melts start dipping the bundles of matches into the paraffin for a short period (5 sec. or so) of time and laying them aside to dry off and cool off.  Repeat this on each bundle about 6 -8 times to build up a good, thick layer of wax.

4. After the firebugs have cooled cut off the dental floss and dip only the match head end of each bundle in the melted wax another 6 – 7 times letting it cool in between dips to further fuel and weatherproof the head end.

You now have a bunch of the finest fire starters I know of at a fraction of the cost of one package of store bought fire starters and these will out perform all of them.

To use them, rub the head end of one against a dry, flat rock until the paraffin wears off and it ignites. Then, simply place it under your tinder and in 5 to 10 minutes, you can have a pretty good fire going!

firebug1

Can you think of some other “alternative” fire starting methods?

Leave a comment below and share them!

 

About Rick Shultz

I'm a pretty simple guy who was a backpacker for over 20 years and learned my survival skills going up and down mountains and taking in God's beauty and learning to live with it. I am currently retired on disability and keeping myself busy doing what I can to prepare for the day that TSHTF as we all know it will, and writing a book on beginning backpacking.

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67 Comments

  1. Mrkrank

    Excellent! Thanks for sharing.

    • RICHARD SHULTZ

      You’re quite welcome and I hope they are useful to you someday.

      • John Gilmore

        I’d suggest modifying the article to incorporate Doc Wilcox’s double-boiler comment, for those who don’t read the comments.

        Was going to make the same comment myself, but he beat me to it.

        I always use the double-boiler approach whenever I melt parafin.

    • Doc Wilcox

      It is much safer to melt the parafin in a double boiler, the type used in home canning.

    • James Holznagel

      Rick, that is great I am on my way to get the stuff I need. Thanks, Jim

  2. Bob R

    Your photo shows 4 matches bundled together yet you mentioned that you use 10 in a bunch. Which works best?

    When I was in Boy Scouts (a long time ago), we made similar fire-starter matches by tightly wrapping ONE strike-anywhere match with yarn and dipping each in paraffin. This gave you a great fire-starter that would burn for upwards of 5 minutes with just one match. If more were needed, you could use them one at a time, or more if necessary. This is a better use of the matches than to “waste” a bunch of matches when just one will do to light the fire.

    • RICHARD SHULTZ

      Actually the photo at the beginning of the article is of some that somebody else made.
      I always use 10 matches for what I consider a very good reason. When you need very badly to get a fire going quickly, you can always count on one condition being present. LOUSY WEATHER!
      And to get a fire going quickly and reliably in those conditions you need a large, hot flame
      that will burn for at least 8 to 10 minutes.
      That is why I make these the way I do, and I have been in situations where the way I make them has justified itself admirably. Please let me know your experience with one match wrapped in yarn dipped in wax,and how many took to get a fire going in really bad weather and I’ll consider changing that chapter in my book. BTW the book when I finish it will be called “Advice From A Woodsrunner”.

      • Bob R

        Richard;

        Case in point. July of 1968, my just-pregnant wife and I spent a week in a canoe in the Boundary Waters of Canada-northern Minnesota. We started the trip by flying to an isolated lake in Canada and working our way back to Ely, MN. As a former Boy Scout and knowing how to light a fire in ANY weather condition, I put my wife in charge of building the camp fire every evening. The first day it rained — all day. That first evening, she had a “melt-down” after trying to light a fire with wet tinder and normal strike-anywhere matches. I let her get to this point intentionally to demonstrate to her the importance of knowing how to make a fire under any circumstance. I used one of my “magic” matches on the tinder that she had previously used (yes, it was still raining at the time) and I got the fire going with just one match that had been wrapped in yarn and dipped in paraffin, as described. I have used, AT MOST, two matches to get a roaring fire going over the decades that I have been camping, hiking, and mountain climbing (does climbing on Mt Everest in 1989 count?). This method does work. Each such match takes up far less space, and in the same amount of space you can carry far more of these type of matches than if you carry a bunch of matches bundled together. I suggest that you give it a try. Make the conditions really rough — wet tinder and in a rain. Do a side-by-side of the one match vs the bundled matches. A tip that I earlier neglected to mention. When dipping the yarn-wrapped match in paraffin, stick a straight pin in the non-striking end to hold on to the match when it is in the melted paraffin. When you pull the match out of the paraffin, remove the straight pin from the match and smoosh some of the still-warm wax over the pin hole. Remember that we both are on the same side of the survival fence here.

        • RICHARD SHULTZ

          I was not trying to start a pernicious contest here, but it appears I may have unintentionally done that here.whereas I only intended to make a contribution of something that has worked for me. Your credentials are impressive. It would seem we both have a fair amount of experience, but please, lets not let it grow into a pissing match. I simply believe in overkill when I am constructing something whose purpose is to start myself a fire as quickly and dependably as possible. It would seem that this is our only real difference of opinion. Both methods do seem to get the job done.

      • Owen McCullen

        Dear Richard:

        Great tip. I agree about the need for a hot fire and I have been in the situation a few times where a hot fire quickly was a life saver. I intend to follow your directions but will also add a final layer of yarn over the dental floss, to hold more wax. It will make them a bit bulkier but one layer of yarn will hold more wax.

        I am looking forward to your book. I hope you will provide purchase info on this web site.

        • RICHARD SHULTZ

          Good idea. The more the merrier as far as the really flammable stuff goes. I would like to make one suggestion if it is OK with you. I would wait to wrap the layer of yarn until after I had dipped the matches at least 6 times. The reason I don’t have anything more than just the floss on them for most of the dipping process is that I wish for as much as possible of the paraffin wax to soak into the matchsticks. I would wait until you are ready to dip that last couple of times before you wrap the yarn around the bundle. This is only a suggestion.

          Rick Shultz

          • RICHARD SHULTZ

            P.S. I am flattered that you asked for purchase info but I am not quite far enough along with book itself to provide any at present. At last count I was only around 13,000 words into this thing, so it will probably be a while yet.

    • Jefferson A Long

      I have made some, since reading all of this. You are correct about the match count……..4 is a waste. I ‘do’ use two of them, just to be sure I get ‘one’ burning.
      See my comment to Richard at the lower end of this comment page. I use my own version of a fire-starter but will be adding some of these to my carry-all survival kit

    • Joe

      Hi Bob,
      The photo at the beginning with the 4 matches was actually my contribution to the article. The one that Richard sent to me, unfortunately would not work at the top. Hence, I took an artistic liberty and found another variation of the firebug.

      I apologize for any confusion you may have had.

      ‘Above Average’ Joe

  3. Mel

    For safety in heating wax I use a double boiler system. I use a large pot filled with water that is placed on the heat source. When the water nearly reaches the boiling point I then place a tin can filled with the wax. The heat from the boiling water safely melts the wax. The tin cans can have the top shaped for pouring when making candles. Any left over wax can cool in the tin can until needed the next time. I’ve also made fire starters by placing wood shavings along with a candle wick in egg cartons (the paper ones) and pouring in wax to fill the egg cavity. The carton is then cut apart for use. Place your starter in your tender, light the wick and in a few minutes you have a good fire going.

    • RICHARD SHULTZ

      You are quite correct about using a double-boiler. They are safer than my method, and if I could afford one on disability allowance, I would certainly be using one.

      • You make one out of a large pot and a food can. No cost.

      • Jefferson A Long

        An electric burner works great. I use a Precision Stovetop burner to do wax. There is no heat outside of the pot/pan

      • Hipockets

        Garage Sales,that’s where you find LOTS of survival needed items,also Thrift stores’

  4. Farmist

    Paraffin should always be melted in a double-boiler to minimize fire risk.

  5. Jim M

    I’ve always used a popsicle stick in the center as tender. Gives you a handle for inserting into your tender pile and something to hold while waxing.

    • Joe

      Great idea Jim!

    • Jefferson A Long

      I was trying to think about a ‘handle’ and was thinking ‘piece of coat-hanger’. I like YOUR idea, much better. Burn it all. No debris………..good idea

  6. We make fire starters using pinecones, paper cupcake liners, wood shavings and parafin wax….

  7. Jack Oar

    When I am in a coniferous forest I collect dried sap, wrap it in toilet paper and use it for starting fires. Paper like strips of birchbark will start a fire even when soaking wet. In Alaska, an Indian once showed me how he separated a paper (book) match in two and lit two fires.

    • Jim

      Splitting paper matches is an old jail house trick -learned from past Dick Tracy comics not expierence. Got to make these. Great site great work.THNX.

  8. Bill

    I’ve found that a road flare works very well in almost all conditions.

    • Mike

      I have used 15min road flares for over 20 years as a fire starter. I have 3-4 in every pack I have. not 1 time have they ever failed me. even when we had to dig our fire wood/starter out of a snow bank. That being said, I still carry waxed matches and 4-5 lighters

  9. Tessa

    Do you have to use parafin? I don’t have a renewable supply of parafin but I do have a renewable supply of beeswax. Will beeswax work? Someone suggested the use of the red wax from BabyBel cheese to me the other day, anyone experiment with that?

    • RICHARD SHULTZ

      I have never used beeswax, but I see no reason why it would not work as long as it dries hard and waterproof and burns like Hades when it’s ignited.

      • RICHARD SHULTZ

        Tessa, if you try beeswax, do please email me and let me know how it does. I am always interested in how a new idea works out.

    • Both will work. I make fire started from Mg chips and Hexamine with an embedded starter. It looks like a wick.

    • Hipockets

      I would think that candles would work too. I always have half burned ones laying around and sometimes put a bunch together and melt to reuse’

  10. Louise B.

    For all you gentlemen, a very safe way to melt the paraffin wax is to use a hot wax paraffin warmer that was so popular with ladies several years ago. It is used to dip hands and/or feet into to soften and smooth the skin. It works well for arthritic hands too.
    If your wife has one of these around it is the safest ways to melt wax as it is designed to keep the temperature constant and well below the flash point.

    • RICHARD SHULTZ

      I have personally never heard of one of these gadgets, but if it will liquefy the paraffin it should work quite well.

      • Stormy Jones

        Richard and all,
        Could/would a double boiler be used to melt the parrifin safely?

    • Debbie

      Thanks Louise, you saved me from asking the question. I figured as much but would hate to use something and have it not work. :)

  11. Jefferson A Long

    I really like what you have shared.
    I, myself, have started carrying my own version of an old Boy Scout trick. I carry a ‘Blast-match’ and another two-piece magnesium style striker in all of my autos and camping/fishing/hunting gear inside a ziplock bag. I use these ‘magnesium’ strikers because they burn even hotter in wet weather. In this bag is a knife or blade for scraping, steel wool and some of the factory made fire-log material. I take a small piece of steel wool and scrape some fire-log product into the middle of it. One strike from the ‘Blast-match’ gives me INSTANT fire and the fire will burn as long as I need it to burn. Once I have a FIRE, if my tender is not completely burned, I remove it with a stick, blow it out and save it for another fire. I have used this method in some of the rainiest, windiest weather you can imagine. I am gong to add some of these match-starters to my kit. You never know what you may need or WHEN it may be needed. Thanks for your info……much appreciated

    • Richard Shultz

      Blast matches are very nice and work quite well. What I was actually trying for more or less when I started making these things was something that does kind of the same thing a blast match does which is provide a high temperature burst of heat, but I wanted something that produced that heat for a much longer time than a blast match will. (8 to 10 minutes versus the few seconds a blast match will produce it) Don’t get me wrong, a blast match is fine for what it’s designed for, but when the temp is in the low 40′s and you’re in the Smoky Mountain equivalent of Hurricane Katrina, with all due respect I’ll take the firebug.

  12. VictoriaM

    Hi! I really like the idea of using 10 matches. That way even if you have damp tinder it will burn long enough to get it really going! Thanks for a great tip! I just ordered matches, floss and I’m going to make a LOT of them.

  13. TSgt B

    Another alternative is: obtain one (or more) firesteels (see http://www.firesteel.com), a small jar of Vaseline, and some cotton balls. Place the Vaseline in a small pan of water and heat on low until the Vaseline melts. Spoon or pour out about half of the melted Vaseline, and then mix in the cotton balls. When the need arises, put down 3-5 cotton balls, stack you tinder (even wet) around it, strike your firesteel until the cotton balls ignite, then carefully stack tinder on top. I’ve found this works everywhere but under water.

    The Vaseline and cotton balls are cheap, and the firesteels are good for about 15,000 strikes. I’ve got one I’ve used for years (I even start my charcoal grill with it) and the damned thing hardly looks used.

    Also, for tinder, I use sawdust or pencil shavings soaked in kerosene or diesel. Pack this mixture into a 20 or 16 gauge spent shotshell, cover it with a 16 (for the 20) or 12 gauge (for the 16) and duct tape it to seal. Keeps for a very long time, and is very portable.

    • D Bro

      If you really want to be cheap. Save your lint from the dryer and do what you are writing. Same affects.

    • Hipockets

      Also, Lint from the dryer. I put in Baggies,and it’s very light weight,easy to carry and works to start a fire’

  14. Ken

    Neat learned how to do this witn two matches and elmers glue in Boy Scouts over 50 years ago. Nice to see an upgrade to an old tech. To make my old fashion types more dependable I’ve kept some emery boards in my fishing tackle box and in the butts of my survival knife and it the butts of several of my firearms. I first made them using parafin off the choke cherry jelly my mom canned.

    P.S. I was in cub scouts and it was my mom that tought us and she learned it from her Grand Dad who was a pioneer rancher in wyoming over a century ago. He made them for his cowboys so they could always have a way to start a fire out on the range or in a line cabin.

  15. A bit more time consuming but I use 4 matches, the dental floss (I used to use string) and roll in 1 inch strips of newspaper, then dip in parafin.

    On a lark, I took the Firebug and continued until I had filled a tuna can, great warmer by itself and quite a good little cookstove.

    Oh PS Yes beeswax will work but I have found it needs a “High Match Count” to get underway.

  16. ALBERT

    Now let’s alter those fire-bugs just a little, and wrap those matches with cotton gauze, thus giving your matches something to extend the burn time.
    Note; making a wax soaked, cotton wash cloth, can be used as , Tender, for Fires or cut into 2 inch wide strips, and rolled tight, a Candle or small stove, when wood isn’t around..

  17. TpC

    love this idea. Finally, I can break out my paraffin wax machine that I took home from the spa/office and has been sitting in the closet with plenty of wax. No worries about over heating or anything.
    For those wondering, it’s a basic consumer model made by homedics available at online massage retailers and many other places (like garage sales)

  18. Try lent from the dryer to help start the fire also.. This helps it to burn quicker and soon you will be warm..

  19. Tommy B

    I’ve used the match-style starter since I was a scout 40 yrs ago. I’m sure it saved my life several times.

    I also learned to carry a small bag of Frito’s
    corn chips in my car and in my bags. They make a fantastic fire tinder, are an emergency food source, and a great bait for wild small game. I’m a big believer in multi-use items.

  20. I used to make mine 40 to 50 years ago by taking sheets of newpaper and rolling it real tight till I had a roll about 1 1/2 inchs to 2 inches thick then would take string and tie around the paper every 4 to 6 inches apart. Take a hacksaw and cut between the strings and soak in hot paraffin until you could see that it was soaked thru then let soak a couple of minuets more just to make sure. Then when ready to use would open the waxed paper a little bit and use a water proof match to light the one tag end of the paper and bingo a fire-starter that would burn for more than 10 minuets. But after reading all of this I would change this a bit and wrap the paper around 4 matches and see how that would work. Of course this would mean you would have to cut the newspaper first and then wrap and this would take a lot of time so I think my way would be best. Even made a few that were 6 inches long and 2 inches thick just in case a little more was needed.

  21. paul

    Try using a 9 Volt battery and some steel wool (not the type with soap in it). You’ll get instantaneous fire. Just place the steel wool under your tinder and touch the battery to it. Shorting out the + and – poles creates enough heat to set the oils on the steel wool on fire. Very effective.

  22. Gene

    You can take cotton balls and dip them in Vaseline(not to much) put them on a piece of foil cut into 2 inch square,fold the foil around the cotton ball to around 1 inch square then flaten . You can make a stack of 50 or so and put into a medicine bottle. When needed you take one square out ,cut a x into it and lightly pick up (fluff up) some of the cotton. Set it down next to your tender and strike a spark to it with your flint and steel or magnesium rod. The cotton ball will burn for about 5 min or so. I have used them alot out here in the Ozarks.

  23. Chuck

    You don’t have to use anything as fancy as a double boiler or wax melter, any metal container in a pan of water on a stove will work. Always, Always, Always melt your wax in a pan of water. I won’t bore you with a long story but I almost lost the sight in my right eye when I was a teen, melting wax directly on the heat source. As someone else said, it makes a very spectacular fire! By “any metal container,” I mean a soup can, a Dinty Moore beef stew can etc, etc. Vaseline used to come in a glass jar. It now comes in a plastic jar. Melting the Vaseline in its own jar can cause the jar to melt. Transfer the Vaseline to a metal container and then melt it in hot water. Your wife will have harsh things to say to you as you are cleaning the melted plastic from the bottom of her favorite sauce pan.

    • RICHARD SHULTZ

      I am very gratified that my article, such as it was, has stimulated so many great solutions to the problem of having to get a good hot fire going as quickly possible. Many of these suggestions are ingenious and are improvments on my own. If mine, or any one of them saves a life, I will be the happiest wannabe author in the world. Thanks and congratulations to you all. Richard W. Shultz

      • RICHARD SHULTZ

        P.S. There is a reason for using 10 matches. You get a lot of heat for a long time. (8 to 10 minutes) There is also a reason I use waxed dental floss. The wax melts and keeps the floss from coming apart thus holding the contraption together for the entire time it burns. I use about an inch long wrap of floss and I have never had one come apart on me.
        Catch-U-L8TR Rick Shultz

  24. What is the best way to store these? If you are being prepared for an emergency situation you would want a number of them and that could be a potential problem.

    • Richard Shultz

      I store mine in various places. Some I store in the cargo pockets of the camo BDU pants that are part of my bugout clothes, and about half a dozen of them in a special waterproof plastic container sealed with an O ring and equipped with a lock that looks like a Grolsch
      bottlecap lock. I have two or three of those for stuff that can’t stand exposure to bad weather.

  25. richard1941

    Choice of fire starting method depends on what scenario we are preparing for. If we are talking total collapse of all civilization, then chemical matches will become unavailable. In that case, fire drill or fire piston is probably the best bet, as either can be fabricated from naturally occurring resources. (Though the piston will take a bit more skill.)

    I remember my first experiment at age 12 with a fire drill. I cheated: I used my dad’s drill press.

    For emergency fire, I carry a butane lighter. It is easiest. I recommend one with a clear body so that you can see when it is nearly out of butane.

    I have used the magnesium block starters, but I found that drier lint and cotton balls are better at catching fire than the magnesium shavings. I usually get flame on the first strike. Since learning that, I carry a small firesteel in my wallet, just in case the butane lighter fails.

  26. Noel Gusa

    My dad makes some wax based fire starting tinder chunks for his wood stove by filling a small Dixie-style paper cup with saw dust and then pouring wax into that. One under a few pieces of kindling and it is plenty to get a nice fire going. I was thinking maybe this firebug idea could be incorporated with the wax cups, for a real wet and cold survival emergency? Either embedding a firebug in the cup of saw dust, before additional waxing, or even carrying one of the cup tinders in addition to firebugs?

  27. Dave B

    While all of these technology based solutions work well, and are most certainly effective “tools” for getting a fire started and I too have used variations of most for many years; there is no substitute for being able to make a fire from nothing but what’s available in nature around you at the time.

    I suggest practicing friction and flint striking methods until they are second nature. I have sucessfully started fires in all types of inclimate weather with nothing but friction or a spark from a quartz like rock.

    Please don’t take this the wrong way… technology provides us with many convenient and life saving short cuts. But if we are preparing for the worst, technologically based solutions may not be available either by loss of our kit (situational) or loss of our supply line (grid collapse).

    I use technology every day but believe knowing how to live without it is more valuable than gold.

    • Rick Shultz

      To ‘put this to bed’ so to speak, I must say that I do agree with DaveB. Everyone should learn at least one method of fire by friction be it flint and steel, a firebow drill, whatever, for some day there will be no more matches and you need to prepare for that day.
      Firebugs are for times when you have to have fire quickly and you don’t have time for one of the more primitive but equally effective methods. They are also a luxury for those who, like myself, don’t like to spend a lot of time or trouble getting a fire going to sit around and tell outrageous lies. :=)

  28. ron

    Richard, thank you for the fantastic idea and worth making this
    fire starter especially if the unexpected happens and a person
    or family needs to make a fire quickly.
    again, thanks, much appreciated.
    ron

  29. patti

    This is one of the best DIY articles written. And all of the comments were also excellent. I also have been making fire starters for many years. My method starts with very cheap candles from yard sales and thrift shops. Melted in the double boiler. Poured over sawdust or shavings in any number of small containers. BUT, because of this article and all of the interesting tips, I am going to try all of the above suggestions. Plus, I did not have a really reliable way to actually get the wax/shavings started. I have never been in a situation where that was difficult. I really enjoy making as much of my own “stuff” as possible. Thanks!

  30. Dave H

    If you have a primary source of ignition, strike-on-the-box (or book) matches can be used as your secondary. Only saying that because the strike-anywhere matches tend to cost more or are more difficult to find.

    Practice with YOUR dryer lint before trusting your fire to it. Some fibers don’t work very well. Some melt & some will flash.

    Most any cotton or paper with paraffin or grease will work as your tinder. It just needs to be something you are comfortable with preparing, carrying & using. Your choice should also be affected by the type of wood in your location. Very dry wood requires less preparation than always damp wood. Practice.

    If you are depending on a spark for your ignition rather than a match, etc, consider that dry cotton, as in a cotton ball, will ignite MUCH quicker than greasy cotton. For instance, if you use cotton balls with petroleum jelly, work the grease in a bit, then tear the ball apart exposing the dry cotton interior. Provide your spark & you should be able to immediately start piling on your twigs.

  31. David Taylor

    One way to avoid burning or flashing the wax is to use a double boiler method where you boil water under the pot of wax.

    I make fire starters out of paper egg crates and dryer lint or saw dust. Just fill the carton and pour on the wax. They start quick and burn long but you do need to light them. A combination of these two is what I will be using going forward.

  32. Dora

    Wax melting pots that are used in spas would be a great way to do this without the danger. They can take a little while to warm up but you will not burn your house down. A little secret I will share is that I have seen these several times at the local junk store. I have picked up two of them myself simply for the bulk wax that was with the second one. You can use them to make your firebugs, soak your sore hands and even make candles without burning the house down.
    Here is a link to a cheapie on Amazon… http://www.amazon.com/GIGI-Wax-Warmer-Model-0225/dp/B000QS4JXK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1373090319&sr=8-1&keywords=wax+warmer I think I spent $3.99 for the last one I found at Goodwill and it had huge bricks of wax with it already.

  33. Matt R.

    I use a square of tissue paper folded in half then rolled loosely around two or three matches instead of the floss has burn time of close to 5-8 min.