Your tinderbox is more important than your Tinder profile

This is number one on every survivalist’s list. If you spend time backpacking in wet environments, you probably already have your own tinderbox. If you don’t, now’s a great time to make it.

I’m going to run you through all the materials you’ll need and where to get them. I’ll tell you what works best in my and other’s experience. And I will also tell you how and why each part is important.


start a fire with your tinderbox


By the end of this article, you’ll not only have a reliable tinderbox, you’ll also have a solid understanding of what gets a fire going. Heck, by the end, you’ll even have a new skill to put on your Tinder profile: ‘can start a fire anywhere’.


The box

First, you need a watertight container. Film canisters work great, but i think they are a little small. That’s why I either carry one film canister per day of my hike or I use something bigger. Outdoors stores always have great watertight containers that will last for years. I use two such containers I purchased at REI years ago. One is my tinderbox and the other is my first aid kit.


film canisters make great tinder boxes



The fire

Your tinderbox should include waterproof matches or a reliable lighter. I tend to carry both, just in case. When it comes to something as vital as fire in the wilderness, I like to have backups for my backups.


Reliable lighters are great in tinderboxes


That’s why I also am a big fan of carrying a magnesium flint stick. They don’t need to stay in the watertight container, are entirely reliable, and they provide you with the chemical advantage of magnesium. If you haven’t seen that stuff start a fire, look it up on youtube. It gets the job done right.


Magnesium flint sticks are great for your tinderbox



And Here’s a video of how to use a magnesium flint stick.


The tinder


Dry shavings for a tinderbox


As for the actual tinder, there are a thousand options. A lot of people swear by dryer lint or cedar shavings. Personally, I think those people need to watch more Bill Nye. Dry materials work great for starting fire, but once your tinder lights, you have very limited time before it goes out. If you add a little wax or oil to the mix, you’ll get ten times the mileage out of your tinder.

Candle wax shavings work great, mix them in with your dry wood or lint and you’ll add considerable power to your tinder. Go for about 20% wax, 80% tinder.


wax is great tinder to put in your tinderbox


My personal favorite is vaseline and cotton balls. This is an old trick and it’s no secret. Make sure you have real cotton balls, not polyester, and tear them open before coating them in vaseline. One of these things will burn for up to five minutes if done right. That’s way better than some cedar shavings. Test one out at home to make sure your’s are working well before you pack them into your tinderbox.


What’s in your tinderbox?

In the end, you’ll have to decide just what you can and can’t live without in your tinderbox. As you use it, you’ll get a feel for what you like more of and what you could do without. You’ll get a sense for what size works best and where to keep it in your pack.


Start a fire with your tinder box


Maybe you’ll have a dedicated tinderbox that you always take into the woods with you and you use frequently. Or maybe you’ll just have a couple of emergency film canisters stashed in the bottom of your pack and the door of your car that are hopefully never used. It will all depend on your location and needs.

One thing’s for certain, you can update your tinder profile to let the single world know. You can definitely start a fire anywhere.

If you aren’t confident of your fire-starting ability, check out how to ‘Start a fire anywhere: 6 ways around wet wood’. There, we teach you everything you need to know in order to turn your tinderbox into a top notch fire.


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ian-carroll is one of the authors writing for Outdoor Revival