Fire Cord is a waterproof tinder that burns hot, and can be easily ignited with just the spark from an empty Bic lighter. One container can produce up to 450 pieces of waterproof tinder.
Tinder is the foundation of building a fire, but it's also one of the hardest ingredients to find in the field. While twigs, sticks, and branches are abundant in pretty much any wooded environment, it can be difficult to find an easily ignitable material (tinder) for lighting that wood on fire. This is especially true when it's raining - in typical Murphy's law fashion, the time when you most need to light a fire (when you're wet) is also the time it's the most difficult to do so.
Because tinder is so important to the fire making process, I wanted a way to carry a lot of tinder in the field, as well as in my bugout bag for emergency use. I also wanted it to be waterproof, and it had to be easy to ignite with just a spark, in case my lighter were to run out of fuel.
After a lot of testing, the result was Fire Cord.
Fire Cord is made out of 15' of 5-strand Jute cord that has been saturated in boiling paraffin wax for 3 hours. Paraffin wax has a tremendous amount of stored chemical energy- it produces more BTU's per gram than Diesel gas - which makes it a really great fire starter. It's also insoluble in water, making it completely waterproof.
Meanwhile, Jute cord is highly absorbent, and can easily be ignited with a spark. This is allows you to start a fire with a firesteel, or even an empty Bic lighter.
To begin, cut off a 2" section of Fire Cord:
That 2" section is then unwound into 5 stands of tinder:
From here you have two options. If you have a lighter, you can simply ignite the strands of cord directly. Each strand will burn for 15 seconds, and produces about the same amount of flame as a kitchen match - I call them "cord matches."
However, if all you have is a firesteel or empty Bic, your next step is to create a tinder "birds nest." This can be done by simply shredding and fluffing the cord with your fingernails:
Next, you want to combine the shredded tinder with leaves, bark, or small pieces of wood. Since I'm in Southern California, I used a few pieces of bark from a palm tree:
Now all you need is a spark:
And you have fire:
You always want to try and keep your firestarting supplies dry, but that might not always be possible. Luckily, Fire Cord is waterproof. Seriously waterproof.
I left this strip of Fire Cord in a bottle of water for 14 hours:
The Fire Cord was wet on the outside, but by unraveling it and making a birds nest, the inner dry core was exposed:
Despite having sat overnight in water, it lit right up:
If you're looking for a way to carry a lot of waterproof tinder in a compact package, I think you will be well served by Fire Cord.
Fire Cord is made with pride in the USA.