Tinder is any material that will burn easily. When building a fire using matches, a lighter, flint, or any other method you will most like use tinder to get your first few flames going, followed by kindling, then fuel. Tinder comes in many forms and can either be found in your environment when needed, or be prepared ahead of time to ensure that you will have exactly what you need at short notice. Tinder is often prepared into a birds nest shape which is referred to as a tinder bundle, and becomes more critical in friction and flint and steel fires.
- Pine Needles - Pine needles are extremely flammable and will almost always be dry when taken from directly beneath a coniferous tree.
- Pine Sap - Pine sap can be a tinder, but is more effective as an accelerant for other tinders. Collect the sap in liquid or crystal form from pine trees and add to tinder bundle or use directly.
- Fatwood - The sap wood of most pines produce a "Fatwood" substance that can be processed into tinder, or burned directly as kindling.
- Vegetation - Dried grass, leaves, weeds, and undergrowth can be processed by rubbing and shredding into finer material until it is near the consistancy of sheeps wool.
- Fluffy Material - Cotton, cattails, and cottonwood fluff, along with dandelion seeds, and Animal sheds when found, can be used as an accelerant with other tinders or on their own, though not as effective.
- Tree Bark - Bark, particularly from Birch trees, is very flammable. Most bark will need to be shredded or mashed to make good tinder.
- Moss - Old Man's Beard, Peet, and lichen that are dried, brown or dead serve as good tinder.
- Punk Wood - Rotted or downed trees that have a soft punky core similar to cork can be charred or shredded into a dust that will make good tinder.
- Manure - Cow patties, buffalo or bison biscuits and other animal dung where the animal consumes a vegetarian diet will produce a good substance that when dried can make very good tinder.
- Fungus - Tinder Fungus, Chaga, False Tinder Fungus, Amadou, Horse Hoof Fungus, and other polypor fungus when dried have served as tinder, and have been typically more effective at extending an ember or transporting fire.
- Char Material - Char cloth is made by burning cloth inside of an air-tight or near air-tight container, which yields a blackened and brittle material that will readily take a spark. Char paper is less than ideal as a tinder prepared well in advance, but during long-term survival it is an excellent means of using one fire to help you create another in the future. Additionally, you can use punk wood or other natural materials high in carbon content to create natural char tinder in the same way.
- Commercial Firestarter - Commercially sold firestarters (tinder) are made with sawdust pressed and glued into a disk or other shape. It is more expensive than home made tinder, but is less messy to carry.
- Lint - Lint, from cotton and a few other materials, makes decent tinder being fluffy and containing a lot of air. Some use the lint from their pockets while others will collect it from the dryer ahead of time.
- Vaseline Balls - Cotton balls soaked in Vaseline is one of the best and most popular kinds of prepared tinder as they burn relatively long and hot for tinder and take up very little space. Also called Jelly Balls.
- Ranger Balls - when a small inner tube ranger band is wrapped around a Jelly Ball to extend burn time.
- Wax Balls - Same as Jelly Balls, but have been dipped in beeswax to provide some water resistance.
- Jet Balls - Similar to Wax Balls but replace the Petroleum Jelly with denatured alcohol.
- Herd Turds - Take deer, elk, reindeer, carribou, or moose droppings/pellets and bake over low heat until thoroughly dry and then coat with beeswax or parafin. Used the same as Jelly Balls.
- Jute Twine - This makes a great tinder. To use simply cut into 12"-16" sections, untwist strands and form into a birds nest.
- Snackages - Potatoe chips, doritos, cheetos, and probably any similar snack that has been subjected to fry oil and leaves an oily residue. Will take a flame easily, and is used in similar way to Jelly Balls, cheetos and doritos are most effective, but most others will work in a pinch. Crush into pile or leave whole and light directly.
- Duct Tape - To process this into tinder you will need to cut a couple 3" sections and then tear into small pieces lengthwise. Keep the strands from becoming compressed as you make a small pile, and do not compress into a ball. You need the surface area to allow a flame to take. Dave Canterbury was able to light this from a Ferro Rod.