Use Cotton Swabs As Matches Using Ferro Rods

Strike Rod With SwabThe nice thing about 100% cotton fiber is that it catches a ferro (ferrocerium) spark easily and is a good resource to have on hand to generate a flame. Sometimes when cotton is used as tinder it can be enhanced by adding petroleum jelly to extend it’s burn time. Cotton can come in different forms such as cotton balls, upholstery piping, cosmetology strands, cotton swabs, etc.. You probably have cotton swabs already in your home and their stem configuration can be used similarly to a match stick when combined with a striker and ferro rod to lite it.

Many ferro rods come with a companion striker, often shaped like a hacksaw blade. You can hold a cotton swab parallel to the striker with the swab portion in front of the striking edge so as the striker travels down the ferro rod the sparks that are generated are cast upon the cotton head and a flame is immediately created. Alternatively, many folks use knife blades as a striker that have a 90 degree spine and the swab can be positioned parallel to the blade with the cotton head next to the portion that does the striking. The head of the swab should be “fluffed out” enabling it to catch the sparks more effectively. The striking process works best if the tip of the ferro rod rests on the ground or log surface, so when the striker travels down the rod, the sparks are confined to the fluffed cotton area, ensuring it’s ignition.

By virtue of the cotton swab’s stick design it can now be used like a regular match stick to light a campfire, candle, or whatever, allowing you to have the convenience of a “match” by using a ferro rod to generate the initial flame. It would of course make sense to keep the cotton swabs in a water proof container for storage so that they will be dry and readily available to catch the sparks when employed.

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