5 Great Natural Fire Tinder Sources

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When you’re out in the wild, you’ll likely come across various conditions. You never know if it’s going to rain, snow, hail, or even worse. That said, even when you have lighters or matches on you…it might be tough to start a fire. This is why it’s good to know of natural fire tinder sources. To get a fire started you’ll need a fire starter and a good tinder. There are several natural materials that will help you get a fire going.

There are a few things you should keep in mind here. First and foremost is the location you’re going to be in. There is a good shot that if you go to the Amazon Rainforest, it’ll be a bit wet. Fire is obviously needed here for tons of reasons and there are great natural tinder resources.

However, if you don’t know what they are…you could be in trouble. This is the same for some baron places, such as various desert territories. It’s also something to consider for even your local forest nearest to you.

Conditions and where you’re headed all matter. With that said, we’re going to go over certain things you can use that make the best tinder. One thing to note, however. We will not be using simplistic stuff like dry sticks, because obvious stuff is obvious.

Cedar Tree Bark

cedar bark

Clearly there are other more creative things you can find from trees besides sticks. The reason Cedar Bark is so useful is that it is quite fibrous and has a resinous nature about it, making it one of the best tinder sources.

This means it can be lit even when damp, while the resinous portion allows it to produce hot flames that effectively lite everything. The best thing to do is to grab your knife and cut off some of the outer bark from the tree.

You can use either a Cedar or Juniper Tree here, as they are pretty much the same in terms of bark. They have a ton of similarities but obviously Cedar Trees are impressively large while a Juniper does not typically reach more than 40 feet.

Once you are able to get some of this bark off, you’ll basically have a curly ball of tinder. The best thing to do is to make a ball out of it, then flatten it a bit. You can store this in your jacket or pants pocket to take with you. Yet you can also just transport it near your camp right then too.

This bark works pretty much everywhere these trees grow. From warmer to colder environments, even those that tend to be wetter. When we tell you it’ll work, we aren’t kidding. The decades of testing its use do not lie.

Fluff From Cattail

cattail fluff

Cattails are traditionally useful for several different things in the wild. They act as food for some animals and even humans can eat them too. Although, we would not recommend it as a first meal if you can help it.

They’re pretty healthy to eat as they contain tons of vitamins and minerals that are great for humans and animals alike to consume. They tend to grow in the Northern Hemisphere, often in various wetland environments.

It’s actually quite appropriate that they grow in these areas, as the fluff from inside the Cattail is incredibly useful as a good tinder. They are often referred to by experts as “flash tinder.” The reason is due to the fact that they take a spark very easily but burn out very fast.

Therefore, when you use one, you’ll want to make sure it is near what you plan to burn for your fire. Otherwise, you could risk it going out before you want it to. You can mix it with other tinder, such as the cedar bark we mentioned above as well as grass among other things.

Once it lights, you can pretty much put anything with it.

To get the fluff, you’ll want to grab just the heads and crush them up. This should help you remove any water contained on the outside. This will also help you expose the fibers within the cattail too. Once you have it, you need to keep these fibers from getting wet. Unlike Cedar Bark, once exposed to the elements the cattail does not light up as easily or at all.

Natural Kapok


If you’re ever able to find Natural Kapok, you’re in extremely good luck. You’ll come across them in Central America, South America, The Caribbean, Southeast Asia, and the East Indies. Due to growing in so many tropical environments, it might often rain or risk exposure to water by nearby water sources like the ocean, rivers, and lakes.

This is why finding them in an environment like this is huge. Kapok Trees tend to have seeds that grow outside the tree. They are encased within fibers, which can often look like a giant spiderweb. These fibers are often used for pillows, as it’s basically as soft as cotton.

The big thing to remember here as well is that this fiber burns extremely well in numerous different conditions. There are some who claim it can burn while wet, which makes a lot of sense truthfully. As they have to be able to handle any water that comes their way.

If you do not need it for tinder, then at least you have something to make pillows or even bedding out of. That is the kind of comfort very few are used to while in the wild. On top of this, you’ll have seeds that can be planted for a long-term return.

Spanish Moss

Spanish Moss

Typically, moss of any kind can be good to gather up and use. Most moss or fungus work well as natural tinder. However, Spanish Moss is famous for being an excellent tinder. Although, it is best used when dead.

It grows all over the place, in spite of the name. The places it is most frequently seen are in the Southern United States, Mexico, and parts of South America. However, it also grows in the Bahamas, Bermuda, The West Indies, and throughout Queensland, Australia.

The Moss tends to grow on trees, often falling down from them. You’ll be able to see it where it tends to be most frequent in long strands that can resemble curtains. You could take some of this moss off of the trees and store it for later. Once it dies, it will dry up and catch flames.

The best part? Spanish Moss will burn at an intense rate until it’s completely gone and catch a spark very easily. The only thing you need to keep in mind is to make sure it’s dead and/or no longer containing any water. Otherwise, it won’t be an effective tinder for you.

Old Man’s Beard

Old Man's Beard

Likely the most famous of the numerous natural tinder sources, Old Man’s Beard is basically a God-send for people. Keep in mind that we do not mean you need to find an old man and set his beard on fire – it’s a small tree or shrub.

You’ll find it in places throughout the United States. However, it is most commonly found in the Southeastern section of the country. Of course, you do not want to lite up the whole tree obviously. So what do you use to work as tinder?

You’ll use the hanging lichen, which is basically hanging fungus. It’ll be on the branches and nearest to the trunk of the tree. Once you grab this and make sure it dries out, it can be used to work as great tinder.

People often assume it’ll just easily set on fire when pulled from the tree. Yet this is not the case, so be aware of that before attempting to use some for your fire. To dry it out quicker, putting it in your pocket to travel around with should hopefully get most of the moisture out.

Once you attempt to use it, be aware that this lichen is known for taking moisture from the air. That means if you’re in a relatively humid environment or a wet one, you might have trouble with it. This is why keeping it in your pocket or bag until using it is so crucial.

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