Coconut Tinder Burning

Coconut Oil Fire Starter

I was watching a terrible YouTube video this morning about a bushcraft hobo meal. I wont even name the video but I gave me a great idea that I tested out immediately. The  video showed a trick of soaking cotton balls in olive oil to use as a fire starter. I use Vaseline with cotton balls to make mine and had never thought to use Olive oil. The guy said he always keeps a little jar of Olive oil in his pack to either cook with or use as a fire starter. I wouldn’t keep olive oil like that to keep it from going rancid but I know of an oil that won’t go bad. My idea was to use coconut oil soaked cotton pads to use. So lets get down to the how’s and why’s?
Coconut Tinder Burning
Coconut Tinder Burning

Why use Coconut Oil

As a paleo prepper I have switched to using and storing a lot of coconut oil. Coconut oil has a ton of health benefits and a never expires. Those are two of my favorite things. I was thinking the Vaseline soaked cotton balls burn well but don’t offer much more. Sure I guess you could use them as lip balm, or to lubricate the bearing block in a bow drill. If you use coconut oil to make fire starter then you are also carrying some calories. Not much, the ten pads I made had 2 tsp’s of oil for all of them. Calories are still calories though.
Making Coconut Tinder
Making Coconut Tinder

How to make them

I went with cotton makeup scrubs over cotton balls for this experiment. I thought the flat pads would absorb better than the fluffy cotton balls. I put two tsp of coconut oil in a bowl and microwaved it to melt it. Put the pads in and move them around and flip them
over to soak up as much oil as they can.
Melted Coconut Oil
Melted Coconut Oil

How Well They Work

To get them to catch you will need to tear a small rip to expose from finer fibers. I didn’t have much luck getting it to catch flame without exposing the fibers. Once It did catch fire it burned for 10+ minutes. I expected about four to five minutes burn time, I was excited to see how long it burned. Long burning tinder can make the difference between getting a fire started or being cold.
Drying the pads
Drying the pads
I shot some YouTube video of the pads burning. I figured it was time to shoot some more video and I like burning things.



26 thoughts to “Coconut Oil Fire Starter”

  1. Another good idea for the use of coconut oil. However, isn’t this expensive? I would think any oil would do. I have one container of coconut oil, because it kept coming up on survival/prepper sites. Haven’t used it yet. But the more uses for everything we have stored is great.

    1. Olivia I spend about five bucks for my tubs of coconut oil. Of that I used two tsp of coconut oil and made ten of these pads. Which at over ten minutes of burn time each gives you over 100 minutes of total burning time. Coconut oil is great to cook with so crack it open and use it.

  2. I was thinking the same thing as Olivia. Would not any kind of oil work?

    I don’t see high chances of running across any coconut oil post-apocalypse. But, maybe for camping, etc…

    1. Rooikat I don’t leave things to chance and have plenty of coconut oil stored. In the future I will be storing even more. So I’m not worried about trying to go scavenge for it I will have it. This is more geared towards camping backpacking though. At home you could use them start rocket stoves with and other wood burning stoves. Since they burn so long you could possible used them like an esbit stove to simmer food. I’m not sure it would boil water But I;ll give it a try.

  3. Coconut oil has a much longer shelf life than most other edible oils. The reason that most oils go rancid so much faster comes from them being mono- or poly-unsaturated. Saturated oils are extremely stable, and solid saturated oils, such as coconut oil are even more stable. Also, try to get “fractionalised” coconut oil, not hydrogenated coconut oil…fewer “bad” bits, or so I’m told. I’m good with avoiding anything that has been “hydrolyzed”.

    Coconut oil also has the added benefit that is becomes solid at 76 degrees. This means it is more of a grease in colder weather, and less likely to drain away.

    As to running into coconut oil post-apocalypse, that doesn’t apply to me, as I am surrounded by coconut palms, one of the benefits of living in Florida. Pulverize the meat, add hot water, squeeze out milk, let the liquid settle and solidify, scrap off the oil.


      1. A note about oils and rancidness:

        One oil or fat that is very resistant to going rancid is peanut oil (and thus NATURAL peanut butter). But it should be peanut-only peanut butter. Most store brands include non-peanut oils that tend to go rancid. The best kind lists only peanuts as ingredients. Not even salt. Adams is a good and commonly available brand of natural peanut butter with nothing added.

        If kept in a cool dry place, natural peanut butter will last a good 2 years without going rancid. I actually tried it, so I speak from experience, but I also researched it.

        There is a side benefit: unlike other fats or oils, even if peanut butter goes rancid it is still perfectly edible. It just doesn’t taste QUITE as good. (And it should also be noted that only the part exposed to air actually goes rancid anyway, and can be scraped off.)

        1. I should add: PURE peanut butter can be used in place of fats like lard in many applications. Pemmican made with peanut butter instead of suet is great stuff, but the same precautions should be taken when making it: everything should be cooked well. Just substitute peanut butter for the fat, otherwise make it the same.

          But natural peanut butter will separate a bit over time. If you put away something made with peanut butter, and you see oil in the bottom of the container, that’s okay, it’s just the peanut butter separating. But you can delay this separation by refrigerating the item, or prevent it entirely by freezing. (But it may still separate a bit when thawed.)

  4. I’m gonna get some coconut oil, and give this a try.

    I was also thinking the rocket stove/hobo stove applications for this.

    The cotton make-up scrubs is a good idea.

  5. How well would these work in the wind?
    Could they be used as a poor man’s hexamine fuel tab?
    Did they smoke at all?

      1. I know you’ve completed the wind and fuel tab substitute tests…RIGHT?!?!

  6. I paid more for my coconut oil therefore I have been just looking at it, haven’t even opened it yet. But might as well take the leap and start using it. How long does it last if it isn’t open?

  7. Umm…there might an issue with pre-saturated cotton pads stored in a tightly closed container…

    “Cotton and linen. When these materials come into contact with polyunsaturated vegetable oils (linseed, massage oils), bacteria slowly decompose the materials, producing heat. If these materials are stored in a way so the heat cannot escape, the heat build-up increases the rate of decomposition and thus the rate of heat build-up increases. Once ignition temperature is reached, combustion occurs with oxidizers present (oxygen).”


    Uhhh, Fred?
    Yeah George?
    Your BOB just caught fire!

    Be careful kids!

  8. Coconut oil is saturated, not polyunsaturated. Due to the more solid molecular structure, it provides an inhospitable environment for aerobic bacterial growth. Here’s a decent explanation of the difference:

    Sealing up cotton with coconut oil on it is just going to preserve the cotton better by eliminating some of the effects of humidity in the air, bacteria, etc.

  9. FUNNY! I was literally watching what I think is that very same terrible hobo meal video with olive oil and decided to search “cotton and oil fire starter”. This popped up first and showed me everything I needed to know. Thank you! I didn’t make it past that olive oil fire starting scene, terrible indeed.

  10. I saw that you were worried about oil going rancid. Even if the oil went rancid it would work just as well. Having said that I love the idea of coconut oil anyways. You could always use those to cure chapped lips as coconut oil smells and tastes a lot better than evoo for the lips. Thanks for the idea.

  11. Good day! This post couldn’t be written any better!

    Reading this post reminds me of my old room mate! He always kept chatting about
    this. I will forward this write-up to him. Pretty sure he will have a good read.
    Thanks for sharing!

  12. This really works!
    Our furnace went out so I had to keep a fire going in the fireplace until it got fixed. Ran out of starter logs and was having trouble getting the fire going one morning. Looked online for homemade fire starters and came across this page, I had what was needed and figured I’d give it a shot. I was pleasantly surprised that it actually worked. Thanks for posting!
    P.S. To the person asking if it is expensive, I buy organic, unrefined, cold-pressed, virgin coconut oil at Aldi for $4 and some change.

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