Forum Index » Editor's Roundtable » Vaseline-soaked Cotton Balls


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Jerry Getz
(jerzyshore) - F

Locale: Southeastern, PA
I use dryer lint instead of cotton balls on 02/12/2014 19:26:51 MST Print View

I use dryer lint instead of cotton balls.

It is free, light, and quite flammable on its own, even without the vaseline/wax or whatever you use to saturate it.

Gerald L
(Mtngeronimo) - F

Locale: SoCal
PJCB on 02/12/2014 22:26:31 MST Print View

I carry PJCB stored in a sealed straw and use it for starting my Esbit tabs. I've tried scraping the Esbit but still find that I have to hold the Bic to it for longer than I desire. It is easy to pull just a small strand out of the end of the straw and place it on the side of the tab where it sits in the stove. I wipe the residual jelly on my hands for some much needed balm. The added benefit is always having a small supply of emergency firestarter on hand.

Using straws for light weight waterproof containers is another great idea I believe was a link followed here on BPL.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Esbit and hand cleaner on 02/12/2014 22:45:54 MST Print View

Put a dab of alcohol gel hand cleaner on your Esbit tab and just threaten it with a Bic. It will almost light itself :)

HÃ¥vard Skarping
(Koffar) - MLife
Wet balls on 02/13/2014 00:26:00 MST Print View

How do the cotton balls perform when soaked in water?

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
Vaseline-soaked Cotton Balls on 02/13/2014 05:44:35 MST Print View

I almost never need a fire starter. I like to have a fire, but it isn't really necessary most of the time. In cold weather, rain and for drying out stuff, I agree. A fire is really needed. It depends on where you are going to hike. Nothing like laying down to sleep next to dying campfire as an owl hoots in the distance, though. I gott'a get out more...

Olive oil was already mentioned, but most oils or fats will work. Cooking oil, fritoes, potatoe chips, bacon fat, parified butter, etc. All are things I often have in my pack. Worst case, I have a small piece of candle that can be shaved for some parifin bits into a cocoa envelope or wrapped into other food wrappers. Insure there is some dry paper, cotton, small pieces of twisted wood or something to make a wick. A piece of bark works as a continer for any melted wax, or oils. I usually have an envelope from hot cocoa or from a supper that works pretty well. Any aluminum foil can be picked out of the fire in the morning, if I use one that has foil in it. Soo, I never carry a specific fire starter. It weighs too much. Like so many things related to UL camping, it is how you use what you have. A 14gm container of firestartes is not something I would carry for only starting fires.

But a new camper may not know these tricks. So, I agree that these type of articles need to be restated rather regularly. Kind of booooring? Yes. Do I read every article in any magaine? I agree, they have their place.

Gerald L
(Mtngeronimo) - F

Locale: SoCal
Re: Re: Esbit and hand cleaner on 02/13/2014 08:31:26 MST Print View

'Put a dab of alcohol gel hand cleaner on your Esbit tab and just threaten it with a Bic. It will almost light itself :)'

Good tip Dale, I'll give that a try. Hmmm, sounds like that could function as a good hand warmer as well : o

Tony Ronco
(tr-browsing) - MLife
RE: Old School and another alternative on 02/13/2014 08:41:23 MST Print View

For improvements tips on the Vaseline-soaked Cotton Balls :

+1 on the microwave use(much quicker and easier)
and coat the cotton balls in WetFire Tender (makes them a lot less messy, starts even easier, if that's possible)



FWIW, there is another alternative that I carry as a part of my emergency fire starting kit: all-in-one firestarter. Here's one of the youtube videos that show how to make it ... the instruction part starts 34 seconds in: Self-Igniting Fire Starter

Gary Dunckel
(Zia-Grill-Guy) - MLife

Locale: Boulder
Hand sanitizer on 02/13/2014 08:51:30 MST Print View

Be sure that your hand sanitizer has ethyl alcohol as the cootie-killing ingredient (some don't), and that it has the highest alcohol percentage available (70%). Then mix it 50-50 with Everclear. It still is a gel, although less viscous, but you beef up the alcohol percentage to maybe 80-85%. Now you have the good firestarter to get your Esbit tab burning.

But I prefer those Strike-a-Fire sticks, cut into 1" pieces, for starting a campfire. One piece does it.

Ian Van Halen
(IDBLOOM) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: Re: Esbit and hand cleaner on 02/13/2014 08:53:40 MST Print View

"Put a dab of alcohol gel hand cleaner on your Esbit tab and just threaten it with a Bic. It will almost light itself :)"

This definitely works with Purell but I've found some of the generic brands won't light all that well. If you're using something other than Purell, best to do a test run at home.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: Re: Esbit and hand cleaner on 02/13/2014 10:37:28 MST Print View

"Good tip Dale, I'll give that a try. Hmmm, sounds like that could function as a good hand warmer as well : o"

The alcohol gel and backyard BBQ dinners seem to make sense for clean hands, but you don't want anyone near the fire using it!

We do use Purell (wife=nurse) and it lights fine--- needs no Everclear :)

The point is that if you have the stuff and you are about to go into hypothermia, it is a great resource. Visions of some cold wet hiker scraping away at a firesteel with a jug of hand cleaner at hand. Alcohol wipes from your first aid kit will do the same.

And of course, everyone needs to practice fuel gathering and fire building when it is not an emergency. A little practice really tells you what kind of tinder to look for.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
Re: Re: Re: Re: Esbit and hand cleaner on 02/13/2014 10:47:36 MST Print View

And of course, everyone needs to practice fuel gathering and fire building when it is not an emergency. A little practice really tells you what kind of tinder to look for.

this ...

everyone knows the theory ... but many dont practice under realistic conditions ...

next time its raining hard, try starting a small fire backyard (safely of course) with no cover, and damp tinder and wood ... youd be surprised at how hard it is

;)

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
fire as survival on 02/13/2014 11:24:09 MST Print View

In survival situation, get in sleeping bag in tent, don't waste time with fire.

Worst is when it's raining. Difficult to get fire going and keep it going. You'll get more wet from rain falling on you than dry out from heat from fire.

Although I acknowledge there are times fire could help survival, especially if you get a sheltered location or it's not raining, or if you had no tent/sleeping bag.

Mostly fire is just entertainment or keeping warm before going to bed. Especially in winter, day is short so nice to have a couple hours around fire.

I make fire about half the time. Not appropriate for some locations, but if there's lots of wood around it's pretty harmless.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: fire as survival on 02/13/2014 11:40:43 MST Print View

Jerry,

I concur that in almost all true survival situations, getting out of the weather and into all possible clothes, sleeping gear, and shelter trumps dealing with a fire. Radiant warmth on one side rarely balances out wind and rain on the other three side. When it does, the wind and rain weren't all that bad in the first place.

Early in my UL days (early 1980's) I did a 10-day Sierra trip ranging from 7,000 to 11,000 feet elevation. At lower elevations around 40F, I was fine, wearing all my clothes (I brought no sleeping bag). Higher up, with cooler air and more radiant losses on clear nights, I didn't sleep so well unless I was near a small campfire (which is problematic because there's less wood up high). But it wasn't a survival situation - the fire just let me continue the trip in greater comfort.

Most commonly, I see campfires being used to let people sit around and chat for another hour before getting into their tents and sleeping bags. Similarly, in the morning, people build a fire and everyone gets 1) smokey, 2) warm on one side and 3) cold on the other side. Why not just reach out of your sleeping bag and cook breakfast from there? Socializing is great, but we can be left with the impression that the fire kept us warm. Well, yeah, somewhat, but not nearly as warm as our sleeping bags can.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
Re: fire as survival on 02/13/2014 12:18:23 MST Print View

In a survival situation you may not have a sleeping bag and a tent

For simple day hikes or climbs, how many of us carry a tent and sleeping bag?

;)

Ben Feldman
(fenbeldman) - MLife

Locale: Bay Area
cotton balls? on 02/13/2014 13:12:11 MST Print View

+1 lint

also, tampons, which are basically *extremely* dense cotton.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: fire as survival on 02/13/2014 13:27:54 MST Print View

"Worst is when it's raining. Difficult to get fire going..."

Not if you know what you are doing and have the proper skills and firestarting material.

"... and keep it going"

Not if you search for relatively dry pieces of wood and stack wet wood on top or around the fire so it will be dry when you need it.

"You'll get more wet from rain falling on you than dry out from heat from fire."

Not if you are using a tarp or open sided shelter. I can be protected from the rain, be inside my sleeping, and still receive heat from a fire.
If you are using a tent and in a survival situation, you can leave the front door open.

Starting a fire in very frozen conditions. We found a vertical snag and sawed/split it to get dry wood. Kyle starting it with esbit while I watch.
a
Fire is going, drying out, wet wood is stacked on the fire to dry out. Once that wood dries out and starts burning well you put on more wet wood.
a
Camp set up. I ended up keeping this fire going all night long because my trash bag liner had a hole in it and my bag/down gear ended up wet (a sort emergency/survival situation, however I would have survived anyways)... needed the extra warmth and to dry out a bit. It was not a big deal or hassle at all, just woke up and restarted the fire from coals every other hour.
a

Keep in mind, this sort of camping or surviving is only practical in an actual forest. Trying to start a fire at the timberline in a storm is pointless.

Edited by justin_baker on 02/13/2014 13:30:59 MST.

Elisa Umpierre
(eliump) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Not a Newbie... on 02/13/2014 21:51:12 MST Print View

...but I liked this article. So what that utilizing vaseline soaked cotton balls isn't a brand new idea. Just look how many responses and helpful other techniques sprouted from this "...can't believe I pay for this" post. If you're sick of the site, move on. The most you paid is $99. Get over it.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
paid on 02/14/2014 12:27:53 MST Print View

Nobody paid for this article. I'm not a subscriber and I can read it.

The issue is that people paid for a LIFETIME subscription expecting many years of quality articles. If this site was unable to supply quality articles for many years in the future, they shouldn't have offered a lifetime subscription.

Susan D
(susand) - M

Locale: montana
Not more warranties on 02/14/2014 22:36:42 MST Print View

Uh oh. This is beginning to bear resemblance to the REI warranty thread...

David Olsen
(bivysack.com) - F

Locale: Channeled Scablands
Jute? Vicks Vaporub? on 02/15/2014 08:11:46 MST Print View

Jute cord starts very easily. Has anyone tried waxing it? Could be a dual purpose item then.

On cotton balls I have used vicks vaporub. Works just like vasoline, but you get another use for the item too.