Have you ever been outdoors in damp or rainy weather and needed to start a fire, but had nothing dry enough to use? Here is an old trick that Scoutmasters have taught for years.

Buy a bag of 100% cotton balls and a large jar of Vaseline or other petroleum jelly. Saturate the cotton balls with the Vaseline. Some do this by hand; others melt the Vaseline to its liquid form and then pour it over the cotton balls. If using hot melted Vaseline, place the cotton balls onto some aluminum foil or an old baking sheet that’s not needed anymore. Allow the soaked cotton balls to cool completely. Use extreme caution with hot petroleum jelly. It will leave a nasty burn on skin.

Store the fire starters in a quart-size zip top bag, film canister, etc. This item will take up very little pack space and weighs next to nothing.

When in need of a fire starter, simply take out a saturated cotton ball, place it where you want the fire (not in your hands), open it up to expose the cotton fiber, and start the fire with a match or lighter. Once the ball is burning to your satisfaction, add kindling. Before you know it, you’re on your way to being warm and dry.