Seven Handy Types of Tinder to Start Your Fire

Knowing about fire starting and tinder are survival basics. While tinder can be almost any dry, flammable substance, some options are better than others. Here’s a guide to some flammable bounty found in nature—or in your backpack.

1. Tinder Fungus
In northern and mountainous areas, look for bulbous blotches of blackish wood on live birch and oak trees. The inside of the fungus, which is reddish-brown, can easily catch a spark. Crumble it for a quick start to a fire or use chunks of it to keep a coal alive.

2. Snacks
Cheese curls are dry, crunchy stuff soaked in fat. No surprise that they burn nicely. Any other greasy snack chip will burn when exposed to an open flame.

MacWelch's 7 Tinders To Start Your Fire 1-15
Here are some types of tinder to get that campfire started.

3. Spanish Moss
Peel this from trees and it’s great tinder, but be careful—it’s also a great home for chiggers and other nasty critters.

4. Birch Bark
Strip ribbons of bark from downed trees; it works just as well as bark from live ones and is already nice and dry.

5. Cedar Bark
Crush the bark with a rock and then pull it apart with your fingers to make nice ignitable strands.

6. Cattail Fluff
Pull out the fluffy insides of a cattail and ball up the seed down to catch a spark. Have more tinder on hand, as this fluffy material goes up fast and then drops back to a smolder.

7. Rotten Wood
Shave off small pieces of dry, rotten wood with your knife.

This tip, and 337 more survival tips, are in MacWelch’s new book Prepare For Anything. This latest Outdoor Life survival manual is available at Amazon.

Follow him on Twitter @timmacwelch  And check out more of MacWelch’s outdoor skills and survival articles in Outdoor Life Magazine.


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2 Responses to “Seven Handy Types of Tinder to Start Your Fire”

  1. Richard Parker

    cattails from a swamp , moose poop soaked in candle wax and dryer lint all make good fire starter . all to be gathered before hand , and stored in a dry container for when the need arisses

  2. Henry Rozmarek

    I teach primitive fire starting for hunter safety class. With Flint and steel and a Milkweed Pod you can start a fire with one spark as the K-pock which was used by the military for life preservers is also very
    combustible and will ignite like a flash bulb. Milkweeds grow everywhere. The milky sap can also cure warts.