Whether you're stranded in the woods in the middle of the night in desperate need of heat, or simply trying to impress your friends with your top-notch scouting skills, finding and making dry tinder to start your fire can be tricky. The key to making your own tinder is finding small bits of easily combustible, dry material that can be nurtured into a larger flame or can transfer heat to a burning coal.

Method 1
Method 1 of 2:

Finding Dry Tinder in Nature

  1. The type of tree will vary depending on your location. The most important characteristic of the bark is that it is dry. Break off the inner bark and shred or break it into small strips or chips, depending on the strength of the wood.
  2. Cattails are common throughout Europe and America and are abundant around swamps and ponds.[2]
  3. Cut off a large piece and break it into smaller chunks if it is sufficiently dry.
    • Holding a knife at a right angle with the blade pointing away from your body, run the blade back and forth to create small shavings. Your shavings should look similar to sawdust.
  4. In a pinch, almost any dry plant material can be used as tinder. This includes dry grass, leaves, sticks, dry pine needles, cotton fabric, or natural twine or rope. These may not be the easiest materials to ignite, but they will kindle a fire in desperate situations.
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Method 2
Method 2 of 2:

Using Man Made Material

  1. This material is an invaluable resource to take with you when you venture into the outdoors.[4]
  2. The steel wool you use to scour your pots can be excellent tinder and all you have to do is light it.
  3. Finally, that annoying lint that you have to clean out of your dryer every time you put in a new load has a use! Simply collect enough lint to form it into a long rod-shaped mold and ignite.[5]
  4. The petroleum grease ignites extremely easily.[6]
  5. A rolled-up newspaper, the cover of a paperback novel, or whatever paper material is available to you will help get a fire started. While you wouldn't want to turn your map into tinder, any spare paper can work to ignite a fire, though it requires more patience than some of the other methods.
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Community Q&A

  • Question
    Does being trapped alone in the wild count as an emergency? Would it be wise to burn wood to keep myself warm?
    wikiHow Staff Editor
    wikiHow Staff Editor
    Staff Answer
    This answer was written by one of our trained team of researchers who validated it for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
    wikiHow Staff Editor
    wikiHow Staff Editor
    Staff Answer
    If you are trapped in the wild, that would count as an emergency. In that case, you may want to signal for help by flashing a mirror, building a smoke signal by burning green wood or leaves, and yelling for help when you hear passersby. If you have to build a fire to keep yourself warm, you should do that. Also, insulate yourself from the ground while sleeping by placing pine needles or other material beneath you while sleeping, because you lose more body heat from the cold ground than from the cold air.



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Co-authors: 35
Updated: August 21, 2021
Views: 158,070