posted on Oct, 25 2011 @ 07:50 PM
Its my estimation that people who recommend the use of petroleum Jelly for fire starting probably haven't spent long periods of time in the
wilderness. There are many reasons why petroleum jelly is not compatible with wilderness survival applications.
First petroleum jelly is extremely pervasive. As soon as you handle it, you'll have a mess on your hands that is both flammable and difficult to
remove without grease cutting detergents. Keeping clean in the wilderness is difficult enough.
Second, petroleum jelly will not ignite with a spark produced by stone and knife, flint, or fire steel. It will not ignite from an ember produced by
char cloth or a fire drill. So if you are without a dry match or lighter or when your lighter fluid runs out the petroleum jelly won't be of any
Third, If you are heading out into the wilderness, I would presume that it is because you have an appreciation for it. Why would you want to drag
along things like manufactured chemicals when the purpose is to spend time away from such things, and why would you want to introduce those nasty
chemicals to a natural environment?
My advice is to carry char cloth instead. It will instantly produce an ember from the coldest of sparks or transfer an ember from wood, tinder conk,
or any other source. It is easy to make, free, and won't pollute the wilderness. It does not require storage in a particular container, and for
it's weight it will start many times more fires than a batch of petroleum jelly and cotton balls.
If you are not interested in learning how to start a fire from an ember or how to choose natural kindling materials from your surroundings and you
feel you must carry a fuel that ignites from a flame then my advise is to carry small strips (0.5in x 1in) of old bicycle tire. It contains large
amounts of hydrocarbon fuel, lights instantly, even when wet, burns long and slow, requires no special container, and is free for the asking at any
bicycle repair shop. Best of all it isn't messy.
I think knowing how to start a fire in a survival situation when you have next to nothing is such an important skill that it should be taught in
school along side of how to change a tire in the middle of nowhere. If you learn what works for kindling in your area and how to use it, you won't
need to lug petroleum jelly and cotton balls along with you and you will be confidant that you can start a fire in any survival situation without. It
is a valuable and rewarding skill that you will be able to pass onto others.