The deadly and destructive power of a wildfire is astounding. Now is...
Starting a fire in an emergency is often paramount to staying warm and staying alive, especially during the colder months. However, if it's wet outside, you may have a very tough time getting the first few damp pieces of kindling to ignite. This is where a good source of tinder material becomes important — it allows you to bolster the initial spark from your lighter, match, or ferro rod into a healthy flame.
Braided cotton or jute rope can be effective as tinder, but it's also sensitive to moisture. Applying petroleum jelly or paraffin wax aids waterproofing and extends burn time. This is nothing new; many bushcrafters and survivalists make their own waxed cotton, and commercially-available products like FireCord incorporate a pre-waxed tinder strand. However, we recently came across a pretty cool way of enhancing and regulating burn rate of a waxed cotton rope.
In the video below, Lonnie of Far North Bushcraft and Survival demonstrates his adjustable waterproof tinder wick. It uses a braided cotton rope about the size of a pencil — strands cut from a cheap cotton mop head should work well for this, or you could braid your own rope from individual strings. The rope is dipped in paraffin candle wax, and a 1-inch-wide strip of aluminum from a soda can is wrapped around the rope, forming a sliding collar.
The rope is waterproof due to the wax, and can be ignited normally with a lighter, match, or ferro rod. Then, the user can slide the collar up to slow the burn and regulate the flame size, or slide it completely over the burning end and cut off oxygen to extinguish the flame completely. It's a pretty clever trick, and left us wondering, why didn't we think of that?!
Next time you're looking to replenish your tinder supply, consider this option. It seems like an ingenious idea that could help your tinder wick last much longer.