Fire is one of the most important tools in an emergency situation, because your ability to make fire can directly control your body’s core temperature and your ability to disinfect water.

With the advent of the ferrocerium rod, there are many ways to create fire other than with matches and lighters, or the ancient way of rubbing two sticks together. The most important thing to remember when using this rod is that the tinder source must be highly combustible. Secondly, an instant short-term flame is not always the answer. In many weather conditions a longer-term flame lasting approximately five to seven minutes may be necessary to create a sustainable fire.

RELATED: Alternative Fuel Sources To Strike Up A Survival Fire

Here are Dave Canterbury’s top picks for manmade and natural sure-fire fuel sources.


1. Put cotton balls covered in Vaseline in a waterproof container.

2. Combine dryer lint with an accelerant like lighter fluid or charcoal lighter, then seal this mixture with wax to waterproof it.

3. Soak dryer lint in DEET and seal with wax.

4. Finely shred pieces of duct tape.

5. #0000 steel wool will ignite from a ferro rod spark. A strand or two joined to the positive and negative ends of two AA or AAA batteries in series will also ignite.

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6. Bird’s nests are highly combustible.

7. Scrape bark from cottonwood, cedar, or tulip poplar trees to create a manmade bird’s nest.

8. Scrape dust-like material from a fat wood slab to create a dime- to quarter-sized pile of fuel.

9. Turn horse hoof fungus into a fine powder using a sawtoothed blade.

This article originally published in THE NEW PIONEER® Winter 2015 issue. Print and Digital Subscriptions to THE NEW PIONEER magazine are available here.

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