Hidden Tinder From Your Clothes… Collecting Cotton Fiber

Collecting Cotton Fuzz TinderOne of the devices for making fire that I have fun with is empty disposable flintwheel lighters. I will often find empty lighters with the bottoms broken off so I remove the windscreens and just keep the flint wheel portions for the purpose of throwing sparks. Without butane for fuel the flintwheel is still able to start fires using “flammable fuzz” for ignition.

I’ve used seed puffs from dandelions, milkweed, and cattail among others to catch sparks. Once lit the fibers almost explode into flame. It’s important to surround the fuzz with light and dry tinder, especially above it to catch the flame so that it can be built into a larger fire. But what if you don’t have seed puffs to catch a spark? What if you were in an urban environment surrounded by asphalt and concrete and not in a wooded area?

You can collect flammable cotton fiber from your clothes by taking a sharp edged device like a knife and scrape it over the surface of your clothing several times. A small roll of fibers will begin to accumulate. Denim pants are a great source for this. The roll of fiber can be pulled apart into a “fuzz-ball” in order to catch a spark from a flintwheel or ferro rod.

Another clothing source of fiber is cotton socks. If you don’t have a knife blade for scraping you can simply pinch off bits of fiber with your finger tips to collect a small fuzzy pile. I often put this tinder into a small cone of tissue paper to catch a flame. This fire method is also known as a “prisoner match”.

A number of folks have experienced similar results using dryer lint, cotton balls, and cotton swabs as their tinder but these fibers would need to be collected ahead of time and carried whereas your clothes require no planning and are naturally with you as part of your everyday life.

As usual, I recommend that you try this for yourself and practice it so that you will have this skill for the time that it is needed… or just to have fun!

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