DiY Fire Starter in a Drinking Straw

Hank over at Sensible Survival is at it again. Check out his DiY fire straw and make this your next project.


This is one of the best and most convenient fire starters that I’ve come across in a long time.  Many of us know that cotton balls rubbed with petroleum jelly make great fire starters, but they are messy and not real convenient to carry.  This method makes it easy to carry these little fire balls and they won’t leak and get on your clothing or other gear.  All you need to make these is some cotton balls, petroleum jelly, a plastic drinking straw, a pair of scissors, and a small stick.

Start off by taking a cotton ball or two and rubbing them thoroughly with petroleum jells.  While you’re at it go ahead and pull apart the cotton into thin shreds.  Pictured below: top, Rubbing petroleum jelly into cotton balls: bottom, shredded up cotton.
Now take the drinking straw and cut it into two 3 inch tubes, and four ½ inch tubes.  Pictured below: Cut up drinking straw
The next part is a little hard to describe, but the pictures should make it easier to understand.
1. Use your thumbnail to crimp across the straw about ¼ inch from one end, then fold that end down.
2. Now use your thumbnail to make a length-wise crease in the part that you folded down. Then pinch the end together.
3. Now take one of the ½ inch pieces of straw and slip it down over the end to hold it closed.
4. Turn up the open end of the straw and start stuffing it with the soaked cotton.  I find that it is easier if I kind of roll the cotton between thumb and fingers to make a string out of it.
5.  Use the stick to tamp the cotton down tight in the straw.
6. Fill the straw to about ½ inch from the top, then fold the top end down the same way you did the bottom.  Crimp it, put a ½” collar on it, and you’re finished.
Wipe off any petroleum jelly that you got on the outside, and you now have a leak proof, waterproof, convenient fire starter that you can add to a survival kit, put in your glove box, or drop in your pocket.  To use the fire starter just cut it open, fluff up the cotton and light it up.  This stuff will ignite easily using a metal match type fire striker.
Categories: Bushcraft, Camping, DIY Preparedness Projects, Frugal Preps | Tags: , , , , , | 20 Comments

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20 thoughts on “DiY Fire Starter in a Drinking Straw

  1. TexasScout

    Fantastic idea! Made with materials most of us already have close at hand.

    Thanks for the tip!



    • H/T to Hank @ Sensible Survival 🙂 I made a sewing kit out of a straw, but never a fire starter. That’s a DiY project I’m doing soon. Simple and smart.


  2. salvatore velleri

    another good fire starter is what i do..i take the empty paper roll from toilet paper and cut it in have so i have to short tubes then from my dryer i take the dryer lint and stuff the tubes with them and then i put eachshort tube in one of those zip lock sandwhich bags….then when you need a fire you take one tube place it where you want the fire. place your kindling ontop and when ready light the dryer lint..the lint ignites then burns the toilet paper roll and then ignights the kindling and any wood you place on the kindling


    • I like this idea a lot better than the straw. Burning plastic releases toxic carcinogens. Don’t they know this, being survivalist?


      • Hi Mona, the plastic isn’t thrown into the fire. It simply seals up the tinder material inside. When ready to use, cut it open, fluff the material, and light it on fire.


  3. Andrea

    Hank another way to seal the ends is to crimp the end in a pair of pliers. Then use a lighter to melt the end shut.


  4. Shoes Summerfield

    great post here. I’ve made similar (adding sawdust to the mix) and was always attempting to ‘hotpinch’ (with heated plyers) the ends closed. THIS helps a lot. again, great job!


  5. ron

    great idea and looks very easy, thanks.


    • John Catt

      I recently made some fire starters out of scrap pieces of wood 1 inch by 1/2 by 1/4 rolled them in news paper strips, tied it off with hemp string, and then dunked them in wax. I use them quite often to start fires & also to light charcoal. they also burn for a good 15 minutes by them selves.


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  7. Marie

    If you use wax dipped twine — leave one end un-dipped and do not wind it — allow it to dry flat. Thread a tapestry needle with the unzipped end. Drop the needle down through consecutive straw lengths then cut string and seal as described — it is a lot less messy.


  8. Jamie

    I did this with straws made for smoothies (because I had them), they are a little larger than normal straws and worked great! I was able to pack in about 4 or 5 cotton balls (shredded up) in each half of a straw. So about 10 jellied cotton balls per straw.


    • Kelly

      Has anyone tried stuffing a straw with dry cotton balls then soaking them with DEET insect repellent. The insect repellent is still flammable.. Just rub the cotton ball on face and neck to keep the little biters away before lighting. It would make another piece of gear dual purpose with no added weight or bulk


  9. Dave Brooks

    Here’s another one. Been doing this for years. Cardboard egg carton stuffed with dryer lint. Saturate with melted paraffin wax. Put in freezer to solidify. Each egg holder should burn 10-15 minutes. Except for the wax it’s stuff people throw away every day .


    • I made those once with lint and sawdust. Not too bad for fire starters. Thanks for the input, Dave.


    • Janet L Zurenko

      I always have some type of wax available from “emergency” candles. When they become unsafe because of size or the 4 inch + size candles need a trim, I just collect it in a coffee canister. In the winter, I have Granny’s old double boiler, melt the wax on my wood stove and crank out fire starters. I have used the toilet paper tubes as well. Dryer lint, pine needles & cones, potpourri that is history and saw dust, are all fair game for tinder. Cupcake papers work well, too. Pour wax over the ‘tinder” in an old cupcake tin, cool in freezer or set outside in the winter. I wrap them in recycled onion mesh bags, tie with jute or recycled string for gifting or transport.
      BUT, they are bulky and I have a bunch of recycled straw I don’t want to landfill! Thanks. Jan


  10. gary

    How about the putty you can make? Takesome gasoline and put it in a container, drop in styrofoam and it turns into a putty. It works great!


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