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Survival Hack Using Petroleum Jelly!

Petroleum jelly, has been a common household staple, one can be found in almost every home , young and old. Despite it being such a common product, did you know that it isn't really all that great for you?

Petroleum jelly is a BYPRODUCT of the oil industry, made from petroleum, which is a crude oil. They say that this jelly is non toxic, and when refined properly, it has no known health risks. However, petroleum is not always fully refined, which means there is the very huge risk of toxic contaminants called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), and you do not want that stuff on your body.

Well, thankfully, this crap is NOT used in any of my salves, and I sure dont put it on my babys bum! I will however, be making a tutorial about how to make your own homemade natural vicks that you can use to replace the petroleum based one you probably have in your cabinet right now- but that will be for another day!


Ok, so why are we even talking about this stuff anyways ?? Because there is a really good use for it, that doesn't require you to place it on your skin, or your babys bum- You can use this stuff in your survival bug out kit!

Since petroleum jelly is a petro byproduct, it is flammable, but not under normal conditions. It will not catch fire, even if you place a flame right onto it. It needs to be manipulated in some way.

We have tried many types of fire starter kits, and many of them require a flame in order to work. This can be pretty hard to accomplish, especially if you are in unfavorable conditions, like rain, snow or high winds. We wanted a fire starter that will catch flame, without the use of a flame , and can be stored in any bug out bag, without adding much weight. This fire starter hack with give you a tall strong flame, using nothing more then a small spark produced by a flint and steel set. Even I was able to get a pretty decent fire going, using ONLY THIS HACK.

Enter- THE COTTON BALL. Thats it, a cotton ball. So simple right !

simple cottonball saturated in petroleum jelly

To make this super easy survival hack fire starter, you need :

-Empty plastic pill bottles

-Cotton balls

- Petroleum jelly


So how does this work ? Well, from what we know is once the petroleum jelly melts, the cotton ball starts wicking it like a candle wicks melted wax. As the liquid jelly rises to the tip of the cotton fibers, it starts boiling and giving off a gas. This gas then burns. The cotton ball no longer burns, just the gas. This creates a controlled and sustainable flame, that continues to burn so long as there is a pool of jelly on the cotton ball. Once the liquid jelly dissolves, the cotton ball goes up in flames!


Some really good points about using petroleum cotton balls is that they are first and foremost, light weight. They use up little to no space in your bag. You can stuff a pill bottle full of them size depending on how long you go out to the woods for, or how many times you need a fire. We carry a small pill bottle full i each of our bags, this will hold about 5 soaked cotton balls. For a longer trip, you may need a larger bottle. Again though, these are light weight and take up almost no space! Alternatively, you can just use a plastic ziplock baggy and put as many as you need in there, roll it up and throw it into your bag. Even less space is taken up !

The Second really great thing , is that they are very cheap to make. An actual fire starter kit can cost 10 to 20 bucks, and if you like to make several fires a day, this can add up very quickly.

The next great thing is that they do not require a flame. No need for matches, only a spark from flint and steel.

Flint and steel set from the dollar store

Another really good point is that they are waterproof. Petroleum is water proof, so if you drop them into water, no worry's, you can still recover them and use! You will have to pull apart the dry fibers inside the cotton ball and then light your spark. ( I am so going to test this out)

So what else makes these the perfect fire-starter? Once that gas starts to burn, it does not want to go out until it has consumed all of the jelly. This makes it long lasting and really good for using in harsher conditions.

survival bracelet with build in flint and steel

Intrigued yet? Lets find out how to make one now. All you need to do is gather up your supplies mentioned above. It is best to use jumbo sized 100% cotton balls, as artificial fibers wont catch fire. Saturate your cotton balls, leaving dry fibers on the inside of your cotton. Remember that the jelly itself wont catch flame, you need some dry fibers to do that job.

Once they are saturated, simply place them into your receptacle of choice, and pack with this a flint and steel kit of some sort. You can use flint and a steel knife blade, or get those really handy rope bracelets that come with a tiny flint and steel in the clasp. We have both and find the flint and knife blade works the best.


To give you an idea of how good of a flame you will get, I went out to my backyard while writing this to show you. It was a little hard to take photos when we were in the woods yesterday, when I used these cotton balls to make a flame before dinner, because I had little tiny hands all over everything!

Busy little hands- we teach them if they are interested!

For my test today, I took 1 saturated cotton ball, and pulled it apart slightly to reveal the dry fibers inside.

Pull the cotton ball apart to reveal the dry fibers

Then I used my Flint stone and steel blade from my survival bracelet, to create the spark. I would have take a photo but, well, I only have two hands !

3 seconds after the spart hit to fibers

As soon as the spark hit the fibers, the ball burst into flames! Be careful, because it gets tall and hot very quickly. I had to move my lens back to prevent the flame from licking it.

30 seconds after the spark hit
1 minute after spark
2 minutes after spark
Total time elapsed was aprox 2 minutes!

Are you impressed? I am. Such a simple, cheap, and efficient way to start a fire. Did you like my post? Do you want to see more survival tips, tricks and hacks on this page ? If you do, please like ( click the heart) on this post! Thank you, and if you haven't already, subscribe to my mailing list in order to be informed of new blog posts. Dont worry, I wont spam your inbox with blogs, I do not have time to write all day every day that's for sure! If you want to see some of our videos, then head over to my youtube channel to see what sort of adventures we are up to ! The channel is a work in progress, but will be posting more videos as we go !





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