How to Turn a Pencil into a Fire Starter
You will need a good pencil, along with some petroleum jelly, wax, an old cooking pot and a pair of tongs. You will also need a burner as well as a spoon or similar utensil. However, you can also get by with using something like a popsicle stick or a small plastic scoop.
The first step is to prepare the pencil by shaving off the painted sides until the wood underneath is exposed. You should also remove the metallic end that contains the eraser as well. Keep in mind that different pencils will produce different results because some are more absorbent than others. On that note, you may want to test different brands out, and keep in mind that thicker isn’t always better.
The next step is to melt the wax and mix it with petroleum jelly in the heated pot. Start by adding 4 parts of petroleum jelly to 1 part wax, but feel free to play around with different proportions until you find the best blend for the pencils you are using. You want the ingredients to be viscous enough to soak into the wood while also coating the outside of the pencil.
Place the wax into the pot and bring up the heat just enough to cause it to melt. Add in the petroleum jelly and stir until both ingredients melt and form a thick liquid. Gently place the pencil into the hot liquid, but be careful not to splatter yourself during the process. You can use the tongs to dunk the pencil into the liquid to ensure that it is evenly soaked.
You will notice that lots of tiny bubbles will form around the pencil as you dunk it in the hot liquid. Keep moving the pencil around until liquid stops bubbling. This is usually an indication that it is thoroughly saturated and ready for drying. Remove the pencil with the tongs and place on a piece of wax paper or baking rack for about 15-20 minutes. This will ensure that the wax/petroleum jelly mixture has dried inside and outside of the pencil. Store in a cool and dry place until you are ready to start your next fire.
Keep in mind that you can use any type of wax, from crayons, melted candles or beeswax. However, crayons have dyes and other ingredients that may impact the ability of the pencil to fully-absorb the liquid when heated. While the pencil will still ignite and burn slowly when lit, poor-quality wax may impact the amount of time that it can burn before becoming consumed. Play around with different forms of wax until you find the one that works best.
When ready for use, all you need to do is ignite the pointed end of the pencil and place atop your kindling or fire-starting material. The slow burning should allow the flame to spread throughout the kindling and make fires easier to start. These pencils can help you to save on matches or fuel when lighting hard to start fires. Try this trick out for yourself. Chances are that you will be so impressed that you will include a few of these fire-starting pencils in your survival kit or bug out bag.