The classic fire steel is a tool that's often overlooked as a relic...
Duct tape is one of those materials that seems to have a near-endless list of potential uses — we've often said that with duct tape, zip ties, and superglue, you can MacGyver your way through a surprising number of problems. We all know the conventional uses of duct tape, and many of us are aware of its effectiveness for less-conventional tasks, such as supporting a broken limb or crafting snow goggles. But of all these possible uses, we've never considered using it as tinder for starting a fire.
In the following video, Larry Roberts — one of the final three contestants on the most recent season of History's survival reality series ALONE — shows exactly how duct tape can be used for fire-starting. He actually demonstrates two ways it's useful: first as strips of combustible tinder, and second as a sticky backing material to retain flammable shavings from a ferrocerium rod. This second use is especially ingenious, since anyone who has used a magnesium bar or other finely-powdered accelerant will know how easily this precious powder can be scattered or blown away.
Larry also discusses how the addition of duct tape to a standard tinder bundle can increase its burn time, thereby increasing the odds of setting your kindling alight and getting a sustainable fire going. Some other synthetic materials such as rubber ranger bands and some types of plastic (e.g. polyethylene) can be used for this same purpose, though they may be tougher to ignite than thin strips of duct tape.
So, while duct tape shouldn't be your first choice of fire tinder, don't forget that it can serve as one more tool to improve and diversify your fire-starting skills.