Dryer Lint
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Dan Durston
(dandydan) - M

Locale: Cascadia
Dryer Lint on 10/07/2009 18:20:39 MDT Print View

I've read that Dryer Lint makes a good fire starter. I think Sam said this in his fire starting video a couple months back and other have repeated this on the forums.

Last night I hauled out a bit of dryer lint to give it a test in my garage. Using a cotton ball sized amount, I was disappointed at how quickly it burned. It only lasted 5-10 seconds before it was out. I don't think that's long enough to reliably get kindling going.

What's up here? Is this normal? Does all dryer lint burn this fast? Do I have a bad batch? Or is there something you add to the lint to get it to burn slower?

Edited by dandydan on 10/07/2009 18:21:26 MDT.

Hart -
(backpackerchick) - MLife

Locale: Planet Earth
Dryer Lint? on 10/07/2009 19:11:11 MDT Print View

I think this is why you are suppose to clean the lint filter after every cycle -- not that anyone does. I'm new here. Have people suggested that you take this in the backcountry?

Jim Colten
(jcolten) - M

Locale: MN
Re: Dryer Lint on 10/07/2009 20:59:54 MDT Print View

Fire starting is a multi-stage process.


  1. catch a spark on material that burns easily (char cloth, dryer lint ...)

  2. feed it lots of oxygen to make a flame .. a match or lighter bypasses these steps

  3. use that flame to ignite something that lights easily (dry dead grass, unraveled sisal twine, very small diameter twigs, birch bark, many other materials)

  4. use that to ignite larger but still small diameter wood

  5. etc, etc, etc



Where in that progression were you using dryer lint?

Chad Mason
(porch13) - M

Locale: Arizona
Dryer lint on 10/07/2009 21:36:28 MDT Print View

I take little dryer lint balls (ping pong ball size) and drizzle them with candle wax. This holds them together and makes them last long enough to get the kindling started.

Tim Marshall
(MarshLaw303) - MLife

Locale: Minnesota
Re: Dryer Lint on 10/07/2009 22:38:03 MDT Print View

i use dryer lint all the time, in the woods and in my back yard. I use a bigger piece than a cotton ball but if i have the proper kindling ready to catch the flame the lint is money. Can't fault the lint for lack of preparation.

-Tim

Jeff Antig
(Antig)

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Dryer Lint on 10/07/2009 23:57:12 MDT Print View

Exactly what Jim said. That is "bushcraft basics". The point of dryer lint is that it starts with one stroke from the fire steel. Putting wax on it is also a good idea to make it burn longer, I've seen many people do it. I, however, do not carry dryer lint because there is no alternate purpose.

I usually carry cotton balls soaked with rubbing alcohol. I could use it for antiseptic as well as fire starting. Sometimes I would carry ultra fine (0000 grade) steel wool. It catches fire incredibly easy (even when wet; though, bringing a small piece of bike tube would be better insurance for rainy weather) and could be ignited from your batteries in your light or cell phone.

Hart -
(backpackerchick) - MLife

Locale: Planet Earth
Cotton Balls with Vaseline? on 10/08/2009 01:24:46 MDT Print View

I've heard of this. What's the verdict from the expert panel? Lint balls with vaseline?

Edited by backpackerchick on 10/08/2009 21:31:13 MDT.

Thomas Burns
(nerdboy52) - MLife

Locale: "Alas, poor Yogi.I knew him well."
Cotton balls on 10/08/2009 04:33:38 MDT Print View

>I've hard of this. What's the verdict from the expert panel? Lint balls with vaseline?

Depends on your priorities:

Lint is cheap certainly, but it burns so quickly that you really have to be prepared with the next kindling stage and even then you have to hustle.

Cotton balls are better, IMO because they can serve a multiple uses. Drizzle a bit of Everclear on them and they burn like the d*ckens. (Ha! The board censor rejected "d*ickens!)

Cotton balls and vaseline burn longer and let you be a tad more laid back about getting your kindling on the fire. The cotton balls are thus made less useful for other purposes, however. Vaseline is not a very good antiseptic.

In my youth, I used to stuff vaseline-impregnated cotton balls into waxed-paper soda straws with the tine of a fork. Cut off the soda straw, fold it over at both ends, and you have a convenient, if single purpose, fire starter.

Don't much like to start fires anymore, though, because of a bad experience on the AT a few decades back. Those new-fangled alcohol/ esbit systems are pretty durned good. However, using the new multi-fuel Caldera Ti-Tri with wood-burning capability leaves you with long-term trail independence, especially if you use the kindling that nature provides and carry along a few four-gram esbits as backup.

The tiny esbits also make pretty good fire starters, BTW, and they come ready made. If you can stand that fish-oil smell, a few of them in a snack-sized ziplock and a mini-bic are a good alternative to all this fire-starting rigamarole.

(BTW, I didn't invent any of this. Thanks to my old man and a couple of threads on BPL for the inspiration for this post.)

Stargazer

Edited by nerdboy52 on 10/08/2009 04:35:55 MDT.

Brad Groves
(4quietwoods) - MLife

Locale: Michigan
Re: Dryer Lint on 10/08/2009 09:05:05 MDT Print View

Yup, dryer lint starts really easy, and it's free, but it does burn out quickly. The key is that it does light super easily. The vaseline-impregnation trick is about perfect. You lose some of the surface area fuzz of "raw" lint, so it's a little harder to ignite, but you just tuft the stuff out and "fuzz" it by hand.

I found that it was easier to deal with small cotton balls than chunks of lint. I melt vaseline over low heat in a small saucepan, stir in cotton balls. Double-wrap in foil. I've had them burn 5-10 minutes, even in damp and windy conditions. Helps to wrap a bit of foil around the ball to slow down the burn a bit. So, the vaseline-impregnated balls light easily, burn lots slower, and stay lit under bad conditions.

Incidentally, I saw a write-up in Field & Stream the other day singing the praises of burning underwear. Gotta admit, if there's anything on my person likely to be dry and have lint, it'd be my drawers. They were talking cotton, which none of us would be likely to have, but merino... If you were in a survival situation, it could be a good backup...

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - M

Locale: Cascadia
Cool on 10/08/2009 12:42:10 MDT Print View

Thanks guys....I didn't realize that dryer lint was used so early in the fire making process to get that first bit of flame. My (ignorant) assumption was that it would be more like a traditional fire starter that you'd buy in a shop that burns for a while.

Lyan Jordan
(redmonk)

Locale: Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem
Dryer Lint on 10/08/2009 13:11:19 MDT Print View

Add a few drops of wax and it will burn like a candle

Jack Scheckton
(Meestajack) - F

Locale: Brooklyn
care to explain? on 10/08/2009 13:14:47 MDT Print View

"though, bringing a small piece of bike tube would be better insurance for rainy weather) and could be ignited from your batteries in your light or cell phone."

could you please explain this technique a little further? I'm very curious.

Laurence Beck
(beckla) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Dryer lint fire starters on 10/08/2009 15:38:55 MDT Print View

Take a cardboard egg container and stuff each hole with dryer lint. Melt some wax and pour it all over the egg container and the dryer lint. Let it cool and harden then you can pull off individual chunks to take on trips. It burns like a candle but its not UL in my opinion. Maybe if you cut the individual chunks into 4 pieces it would be lighter.

Hart -
(backpackerchick) - MLife

Locale: Planet Earth
Mentos and Diet Coke? on 10/08/2009 21:17:08 MDT Print View

I'm new here. Just stopped following some threads. This is one of the more interesting ones. Must say. Is this especially useful vs. more traditional materials or is it like adding mentos to diet coke -- just kind of a cool thing to do.

BTW, doesn't dryer lint vary depending on the material of the clothing you are drying?

nerdboy -- that's good! LMAO

Edited by backpackerchick on 10/08/2009 21:33:42 MDT.

Hart -
(backpackerchick) - MLife

Locale: Planet Earth
White Bricks? on 10/08/2009 21:25:07 MDT Print View

Saw some sort of little white bricks in Australia. Very popular. Come in a package like chocolate. Highly flammable. Don't recall seeing these at REI. Kerosene?

Edited by backpackerchick on 10/08/2009 21:27:18 MDT.

John Davis
(billybooster) - F

Locale: So Cal
bricks on 10/08/2009 22:16:58 MDT Print View

parafin impregnated squares....

lint plus wax or lint plus vaseline works great from a flint - just add other kindling to get it going....

as for the battery from your headlight or cellphone - here's a link!

http://lifehacker.com/5288263/start-a-fire-with-a-cellphone-battery

Hikin' Jim
(hikin_jim) - MLife

Locale: Orange County, CA, USA
Re: Mentos and Diet Coke? on 10/08/2009 22:49:39 MDT Print View

BTW, doesn't dryer lint vary depending on the material of the clothing you are drying?
Yes it does. Synthetics seem not to burn as well as cotton. Tip: if you're a dog owner and there's a lot of dog hair in your lint... well, let's just say it's not a good thing. lol

Saw some sort of little white bricks in Australia. Very popular. Come in a package like chocolate. Highly flammable. Don't recall seeing these at REI. Kerosene?
Sounds like Wetfire or something like it. Definitely not kero which usually comes as a liquid and would not be white.

Did it look something like this?


I haven't tried this but they say it will burn in water (hence the name). The one bad thing about them is that if the packaging isn't air tight, the cubes will become duds. Not so good to have in the bottom of your pack for an emergency unless you keep them in Tupperware or something.

HJ

Edited by hikin_jim on 10/08/2009 23:01:33 MDT.

Michael Skwarczek
(uberkatzen) - F

Locale: Sudamerica
jute twine and paraffin on 10/08/2009 23:34:13 MDT Print View

I'm still most impressed with fire starters made of 2" jute twine soaked in paraffin. You stab the end, and puff it out, it'll catch a spark from a starter and burn for 4min. I carry a few in my emergency kit, and always use them to get my twig stove going.

Though, this last time out I was having a hard time getting my twig stove charged and lit, so I used a few drops of that alcohol hand sanitizer. Blazes. Good trick and multi-use.

cheers,
-Michael

Hikin' Jim
(hikin_jim) - MLife

Locale: Orange County, CA, USA
Re: care to explain? on 10/08/2009 23:35:59 MDT Print View

"though, bringing a small piece of bike tube would be better insurance for rainy weather) and could be ignited from your batteries in your light or cell phone."

could you please explain this technique a little further? I'm very curious.
I question the practical value using a battery to light a fire. Seems like it's more show. You'd have to cannibalize something (light or phone) that has survival value in and of itself. Seems like it would be more practical to just always make sure you bring a lighter, matches, and if you really want to be prepared , some kind of sparking device.

The rubber strips are just good all weather "fire starter" (something to ignite and then use to get the bulk of the fire going). A candle wax works too as do the vaseline impregnated cotton balls. Rubber strips are just easy to carry, don't melt, don't take any prep, don't dry out, etc.

Ray Mears demonstrates the use of rubber strips to start a fire in this video: Ray Mears Video. He pulls them out at about 9 minutes into the video. The video is kind of interesting, although Ray is obviously a bit more for show than survival, but if you just want to skip to the fire demo, move the progress indicator to about 8:30 into the video.

HTH,

HJ

Larry Dyer
(veriest1) - F

Locale: Texas
Dryer Lint, Vasoline, and Foil on 10/28/2009 00:58:46 MDT Print View

I haven't tried this one myself but some of the survival boards I've perused mention taking your standard dryer lint and vasoline concoction and wrapping it in a bit of aluminum foil. Then make a slit in the foil and pull a tuft out and light that. They say this makes for a nice long burn time since the lint (or cotton ball for that matter) either acts like a wick or the slit controls the amount of air it gets (it's probably the latter if it works at all).