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Happiness is 2 at low 8
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There is much discussion around using cottonballs and petroleum Jelly as a firestarter in conjunction with a firesteel or ferrorod....

One of the problems we face when putting together a BOB or EDC kit is efficient use of space. How many cotton balls can you stuff into a film canister? 10, 20? How much space does that film canister take up?

Cotton rope (the twisted kind) is about as dense as you can compact cotton. It's the same material as the cottonballs but already compacted.

What I was thinking was why not simply cut a chunk of 1/2" cotton rope and a tube of vaseline? You can make the "cottonballs" as you need them by using a knife edge to scrape a frayed end of the rope. The cotton fluff (like picking lint off cotton socks) comes off easily. I have tried it out and it works great. I used masking tape to keep the rope from fraying completely and only had about 1" of the rope frayed.

I believe my 4" length of cotton rope will make enough tinder to light thousands of fires (though I haven't tested that) whereas my film canister of 20 cotton balls might light a couple hundred.

Anyone see a downside?

Allan
 

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Wild Edibles Expert
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Haven't thought about it... but I would ask what is the size of cotton fiber vs the size in the rope? Cotton balls and PJ light very well... have you tried lighting cotton twine?
 

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I have 100 cotton balls soaked in vaseline in a ziplock bag, which is inside another ziplock bag. I squeezed all the air out and flattened it. It takes up hardly any room.

I can think of better ways to use a rope than burning it.
 

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cute is not always enough
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The petroleum jelly protects the cotton balls from adverse conditions. Even if you place the ball on a wet surface and it is raining much of that water will roll off the petroleum jelly. Your cotton fluff might just soak it up and make it harder to lite. Also, if your cord is dunked it might absorb enough water to make it hard to lite. Petroleum jelly is also a fuel itself and it burns better and longer than cotton once you get it lit.

If the cord works well under normal conditions it could be good for normal use but I would want to back it up with something more resilient for the rough patches. Maybe if you had a small quantity of jelly or, maybe, the alcohol based hand sanitiser your could just dip it and go.

Test it out under the worse conditions you can think of and see what happens.
 

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Happiness is 2 at low 8
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Discussion Starter #5
Haven't thought about it... but I would ask what is the size of cotton fiber vs the size in the rope? Cotton balls and PJ light very well... have you tried lighting cotton twine?
You aren't lighting the threads that make up the rope, you're using a knife edge to scrape off the fluff, similar to picking lint off cotton socks, to make a small cotton ball.

You do make good points regarding the PJ keeping the cottonballs viable in wet weather.

I guess I'm looking at it from the quantity of tinder you can comfortably carry in the limited space you have and longer term than a couple months. How many fires can you lite from your 100 cottonballs? How long are you expecting your SHTF scenario to last? For camping a couple weeks 100 cottonballs is more than adequate. What if you're out for 6 months? a year?

OBTW the cotton ball by itself w/o the PJ burns pretty well, only not very long. When you run out of PJ you can still light fires, you just have to have the rest of your fire preps ready to go...

Thanks for the feedback... I'll think about this some more.

Allan
 

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I'm going to give this a try maybe experiment with different types of rope, seems like another good technique to use, which is good . Currently I unfold the cotton balls and put some pj in the middle, I have about 20 squeezed tightly & double wrapped in plastic. I pull 1/3 to 1/2 off a cotton ball to use. A smaller piece still burns long enough to get tinder going or use a whole ball if your tinder is damp. I've found the more pj the longer the burn time per ball. I also carry 2 foil tubes of pj for backup. I try to find/make tinder along the trail and use the pj balls when I need to.
 

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I was playing with jelly + cotton balls today, and was amazed at how long something so easy, compact, and lightweight could burn. Needless to say I made a few bags worth >_>
 

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Tried using a bit of cotton rope yesterday. I have some 1/4 inch window cord so I scraped some fluff off it with the side of my knife and it lit up good with the spark from my Swedish flint and steel.

Also tried lighting the rope itself. Got it to burn - kind of like a slow match like was used in matchlock guns. Steady glow when blown on. You could use it to light tinder no doubt.
 

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Several months ago I bought cotton balls and generic petroleum jelly from a local dollar store. I melted the petroleum jelly and dipped the cotton balls in with some tweezers. Once they dried I dropped two of them into the bottom half of a beer can and threw in a match. They burned, with no additional tender, for at least 15 minutes. I've got to believe they would make an excellent firestarter in almost any condition.
 

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You can buy an all cotton heavy duty mop head for around 5 bucks. All the cotton you could ever need there. strands will pack nicely or wrap around things. A couple pieces pushed through a small diameter metal tube, char the end and pulled back in the tube to snuff out the ember and you have chared cotton to catch a spark. Or grease 'em up with petro jelly
 

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I just bought "Fire Fixins" a few weeks ago and tried it out, very nice tinder setup built by a father/son team, you can replicate it pretty easily. I reduced the size to hang off of my knife. It is just wax covered Jute (Brown Twine) and a piece of fatwood. Lights fast with a empty bic (If the bic sparks can ignite it any firesteel will) and burns 3-4 min on a 1" x 1" birdsnest of jute and fatwood shavings.

Though it looks small in the pics, it is a very good size. I used 1/4 of it to hang off my survival sheath, and I estimate 20 or so fires from the 1/4.



Here is a good description:
http://www.campingsurvival.com/fifiwaxinjus.html?utm_medium=email&utm_source=peer360&utm_campaign=FreeSurvivalGearNewProducts&utm_content=headerwLink

A good price (w/ shipping):
http://www.bensbackwoods.com/servlet/Detail?no=452

And a review:
http://www.woodsmonkey.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=166:fire-fixins-review&catid=78:firestarting-equipment&Itemid=97
 

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Use both the rope and cotton ball. Melt parafin in a cup,soak the rope until saturated,take out,and let dry.Use your cotton to get it started,and the cotton rope as a long burning wick.The beauty is,that waxed rope can be held underwater,and still will light right up without delay.And it will burn a looonnnggg time.I do the same with hemp rope.Fray the end to start it easier.
 

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How about using dryer lint instead of cotton balls? Same thing a little denser and you just throw it away anyway. You can soak it in Petroleum jelly too. Just an idea.
 

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Got any beer money?
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I used cotton balls and fire steel for a long time. Then I saw a trick on a YouTube video: Tampons. I don't know why more people don't pack them instead of balls. They are pure cotton, super compressed and when broken up work exactly like cotton balls. One tampon will start 12 to 15 fires (at least, more if you are stingy with them) and is the size of your finger.
 

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Don't know how true it is, but I read the other night that if you use the dryer lint from doing the kids clothes that you can actually get some of the flame retardant chemicals into your lint. I use the lint from home but both my youngings are old enough to wear normal non-treated clothing. Just a random thought for the day.:D:
 

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I use dryer lint myself. I keep it in a 1 gallon ziplock freezer bag. I just tear off a piece about the size of a ping pong ball, Place some other tinder on it and it light right up with any spark or flame.
 

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i did not know about cotton balls and pj until just a while abo. i have allways used pine tree sap. its a little sticky when warm but it is the best thing i have used to start fires when camping. and it can be found on almost any pine tree (just look for a wound in the tree)
 
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