Best Tinders?

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Dec 27, 2009
A few days ago I went out to the nearby lakes and built a shelter, and built a fire. The problem was, I was so unorgansied that I just grabbed anything withit arms reach for my fire. It didn't work. So I sat on my log for a few minutes, and had a think. Then I went out and collected all the materials for a fire (except tinder, I had toilet roll), I managed a pretty damn good fire.

Anyhow, my question is, what are the best natural tinders that are readily available at this time of year? Because I don't want to Always resort to loo roll!

If possible, please include some pictures so that I can learn to recognize the different tinders.



Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Jan 18, 2009
Dark side of the Moon
try looking for dead bull rush heads around the edge of the lake thay are great and should be dry inside. if not put some in your pocket to dry out.
also try looking for falen trees just underneath there should be some leaves possibly dry again use the pocket trick.
cramp balls are good for producing heat to ignite other stickes and leaves. they look like squashed down golf balls and are red brown to bark brown black grow on dead logs and trees normaly ash or birch. when you pick them they should just twist off the log etc. only use the darker ones as they are dead and the red ones still living (and wet).

all you do to light them is scrape of the outer shell to reveal the fuffy inside it looks like groath layers inside a tree. just use a fire steel etc to get a red glow like a lit piece of charcoal they also burn the same. you can look them up on youtube.

birch bark to which ignites when damp if in thin shavings pulled from a young tree....

any questions just personal message me and will try to help.....goood luck.. chris.....


Jul 15, 2005
Penzance, Cornwall
To add to the above: Honeysuckle bark, dry dead bracken, dry dead grass. The key is to have dry stuff, which can mean keeping material in your pocket for a while before attempting to light the fire. I guess that's why when flint and steel was in common use, people carried tinder boxes.

Bit off topic, but I remember a fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen about a tinder box. Means a lot more to me since getting into bushcraft! :)

Ogri the trog

Apr 29, 2005
Mid Wales UK
There really is no such thing as a "best" tinder,
there are things that "can" work if you have the skill and knowledge to make them work, or there are those that you have to carry. Practice when times allow and learn how other people process their tinders. You also have to change your mindset, accepting that there will be times when a fire is not possible and to channel your energies in another direction.


Ogri the trog


Full Member
Aug 10, 2009
Loch Lomond, Scotland
once you have collected the above tinders as mentioned, i always try to use some birch faggots if available, these are the small twigs on birch trees, either alread fallen and hanging losely on branches or winter twigs that snap and dont bend when teased.

if you use the above tinders, then a couple of piles of birch faggots, you will always get your fire going, it really is about prep, there is always dead standing twigs/branches if you look hard enough, and every time you do it seems to be easier to find them, you kind of develop your eyes for these tasks....

hope all these tips help from everyone and you have many a happy hour building your fires...

All the best



Oct 13, 2008
How do you find stuff like this out???:confused:
Trial and error..and forums like this :)

When considering tinder ask yourself....Will it catch a spark and burn long enough to set fire to larger pieces of wood and so on........then try it out in the garden.....keep your hand in (Metaphorically).

I always keep a handful of wood shavings from the workshop in a tobacco tin next to cotton wool balls smeared with vaseline.
To ignite I use a firesteel, if windy I also use pieces of magnesium....never failed yet.

When warm, little wind and dry......feathersticks will easily catch a spark and light a fire without the need for any of the above....

As already written preparation is key......
Before you even try to light tinder, have to hand, prepared bundles of wood which contains progressively thicker pieces of wood.
Whatever you think you need always double or treble the amount and you will not go too far wrong.
This also applies to the amount of wood you will need for the camp fire for cooking or overnight....

Hope this helps.... :)

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Jan 21, 2005
S. Lanarkshire
Birch bark, birch twig faggots (glad to read that someone else makes these too :)) firecrackle, which is basically any dead dry standing hollow stemed plant. It can be old nettles, fireweed, yarrow, dockens, mallow, angelica, anything like these. Break it up a bit and the tubular nature helps funnel the heat and set them alight. Really extenders though. Thistle down, cattails, dried out grasses.
It can be a huge list.

Have you tried making charcloth ?



Jun 22, 2009
i always carry a tin of fluff from the dryer, all the natural tinders have been highlighted already. But a good backup plan is some fluff from your jacket too from insider the liner (more of a last ditch thing in a survival situation i guess)


Oct 9, 2009
Nickliv and I took the kids out (1 of his and 1 of mine) over Christmas and found a bumper crop of King Alfreds Cakes on a dead tree. They're still drying out but for taking a spark from a firesteel the smaller (i.e. drier) pieces are already excellent. It's taken them the better part of three days to dry sufficiently though... so hardly 'instant use' tinder in winter.

I really don't think there is an easy answer to readily available tinder in all weather conditions unless you're already carrying it. I've got a tin with everything from birch bark to a tea light in it, by way of cotton wool soaked in candle wax and pine faggots soaked in resin. Something out of that lot is bound to burn no matter what the weather and, including the tin some matches a disposable lighter a firesteel and striker, it weighs a shade under 6oz.


Full Member
Jan 10, 2009
rochester, kent
to Quote adze: It's taken them the better part of three days to dry sufficiently though... so hardly 'instant use' tinder in winter. I found some cramp balls whilst out saturday walking and put them in my pocket after walking for a couple of hours i stopped for a brew. I used traditional flint and steel got the cramp ball alight and used that to get my hobo going:)so it can be done;)