Fire! Heh! Heh. Fire’s cool.

Other than baiting you here to relive the glory that was Beavis and Butthead, I also wanted to share another tip:

Balls o’ Fire


  • gloves
  • petroleum jelly
  • cotton balls (or dryer lint)
  • container


Method 1

Mash vaseline into cottonball (or gathered dryer lint). Store in container (zip loc, old prescription bottle, etc). Bits of paper in the dryer lint help inflammability.

Method 2

Ever melted chocolate in a double-boiler? No? Place one pan on the stove, add water. Place a smaller pan in the water. Put on low heat. Add $ingredient (stir occassionally) until melted. In this case, petroleum jelly. Once the jelly has melted, allow to cool enough that you can drop a cottonball into it and remove it. Set the cottonball aside to cool completely.


Using Method 1, the cottonballs burned for approx. 6 minutes.

Using Method 2, the cottonballs burned for approx. 10 minutes.

In either case, these can come in pretty handy in a BOB or for camping.

You could also consider incorporating excelsior, also known as wood wool (a product made of wood slivers used in packaging, for cooling pads in home evaporative cooling systems), into your fire preps (or cottonball recipes).


  • Comments (9)

    • 6

      Thanks for sharing this post! I’ve done the petroleum jelly and cotton balls before, but it was messy and I wanted to find another way to make a DIY fire starter that would be less messy. Here is what I came up with a couple years ago.

      Rolled up piece of cardboard tied off with twine with everything dipped in candle wax.


      Cotton rounds dipped in candle wax. (don’t mix up with your hard tack, haha)


      And third is just dryer lint inside of a section of a cardboard egg carton. I thought this could be a way to carry dryer lint without it going everywhere and just throw the whole pod into a fire.




      Your post wanted me to finally try out my methods. And… well… the cardboard in wax and cotton rounds in wax didn’t do well. After holding an open flame to them for 10 seconds they didn’t catch fire. They probably would be good to throw on an existing fire, but as an easy fire starter, not so much.

      The plain dryer lint worked well though!

      In total it burned for 6 minutes and 30 seconds. I think the cardboard egg carton is why it lasted for so long. I’m sure if I added petroleum jelly, it would last even longer!

      Thank you Matt Black for getting me out to try out my preps! I sure am glad that I did, because most of my fire starters in my BOB are those wax covered ones, and now I know they don’t work.

      Lesson learned, try your preps!

      • 8

        They way I do cotton balls is not messy.  I put a few spoonfulls of petroleum jelly in a baggie, then add a few cotton balls.  Seal it up & then just massage the jelly into the cotton balls.  You can leave like that or take the cotton balls out & put in the container of your choice.

    • 8

      I’ll have to try the melted petroleum jelly method. I have a bunch of cotton balls I’ve mashed with jelly and it works well, but the cotton balls don’t burn very long.

    • 8

      Out of pure curiosity, for method 2 – the double boiler with petroleum jelly – was that over a gas or electric heat source?  Obviously its flamable (which is the point, here!) but i’m unclear on if/how it vaporizes.  For context, if you’ve ever cooked with alcohol over fire it vaproizes quite well and you can get some impresive ignition results (I’ve made a few of brandy cream sauces and I’ve been cruoius what the burn-off looked like!).  

      I assume the parties involved knew what they were doing/were being careful, but for anyone else who might try this at home just something to keep in mind: liquid fuel heated over an open flame can result in singed eyebrows for the careless.

    • 3

      Nice testing Matt Black! 

      I’m thinking of what I want my fire kit in my bug out bag to look like.

      What do you all recommend me having in there?

      Any specific products you like?

      • 4

        I have always been ale to start a fire with natural materials, the finer, the better…Collect small dead twigs from standing trees.  Pine trees are the best. The shaggy bark from Utah juniper is unexcelled.  That’s great if you are in the Four Corners region.  Otherwise, get a canister stove.  I have ben using one for the last twenty years and rarely do wood fires anymore.  They are worth a place in your bug out bag. Fire can be absolutely critical.

    • 7
      • 5

        I wrote a blog post about char cloth a while ago.

        What’s neat about char cloth is that it can be made for free with scraps of an old tshirt and it catches a spark so easily. Something I feel everyone should try at least once in their lives.

    • 6

      I replaced my Butane lighter that had in turn replaced my petrol lighter with as BUTANE TORCH, the Blazer PB207 butane torch, It does everything a lighter does but is wind proof and can also be used to braze and solder with as well. Not cheap at about £34 pounds but my first one has lasted 27 years and is still going, though I have recently replaced it with a new one. Adjustable flame height and a trigger lock to keep it locked on. Clear refill tank  so you can see how much fuel you have and of course refillable.

      An EDC Blazer PB07 Lighter