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Tinder Bundles: What They Are, How to Use them, and How to Make One

Do you want to make a friction fire? Would you like to build a bird’s nest and blow a little ember into a roaring fire? Well, one of the best ways to make that happen is by creating a tinder bundle.

Tinder Bundle

With a tinder bundle, you will be able to make fire with minimal implements and tools. So, what exactly is a tinder bundle and how do you make these highly flammable fire starters?

What Is a Tinder Bundle

A well-made tinder bundle is a collection of fine, dry material that can easily catch fire and burn long enough to light pencil-sized sticks and kindling. Bundles can be made from all kinds of different materials.

Your Bundle should ignite when you expose it to direct flame from a match or lighter. It should also be able to ignite if you shower it with sparks from a ferrocerium rod. The tinder bundle should also be effective in a bird’s nest that can be ignited with a single ember.

What Are the Best Materials to Make a Tinder Bundle

The kinds of materials you are looking for when making one should be dry, fibrous, and easy to finely process.

Here are some great examples of materials you could collect and use in the process

  • Dry Grass
  • Cattails
  • Dry Leaves
  • Dry Bark
  • Dry Flowers
  • Dry Fur
Tinder Bundle Leaves

There are also some materials from your home that can be used to make a tinder bundle.

  • Dryer Lint
  • Pocket Lint
  • Shredded Paper
  • Cardboard

How to Process Materials for a Tinder Bundle

Processing your tinder materials is the skill you need to practice if you want to make great tinder bundles.

Tools for processing tinder can make this process much easier. I prefer a quality, fixed-blade knife with a 90-degree spine. Running that sharp spine over the materials can break them down easily.

You can use a stone in much the same way. You are simply breaking the materials down to nice fibrous lengths.

You can even process tinder with your bare hands

To achieve this, vigorously work the tinder between your hands rolling it round and round. Move up and down the full length of your tinder until it is the consistency of cotton batten.

Bundling Your Materials

While working the tinder, save all the fine bits and dust falling down from your hands. This finer material should be put in the nest last and will mark the place where the ember will be placed.

Make your bundle by tying your material in an overhand knot and then tucking the ends towards the center to form a nest shape. The bundle should be at least the size of a fist.

Stuff additional tinder into this knot until the nest is dense. This will keep the ember from falling through the bottom.

Storing Your Tinder Bundles

The enemy is moisture. You do not want it to get wet. A wet tinder bundle can become all but useless if you are not careful.

You can do things like tuck your tinder bundle in a toilet paper roll to keep it together and give it an added layer of protection. You can also cut a section of bark from a thin-barked tree and wrap the section of bark around your bundles. You may need to tie the bark closed.

Wood Chips in a Bag

The easiest and most effective method is probably to just drop them into a ziplock bag and store it in your backpack. I keep a large ziplock full of dryer lint in my camping bag and when I make tinder bundles I just drop them right in the same bag.

They pick up a little of the lint and it just makes them even more effective. The ziplock keeps them dry even if you fall in a river or get caught in a downpour.

How to Start a Fire with a Tinder Bundle

There are a number of different fire lays that you can try out when you are looking to start a fire bundle. Here at Survival World, we have instructions to make all types of fires.

The key to using them is to not smother it and to set it underneath of your pencil-sized sticks before lighting it. This will get the fire started but it will be your kindling that keeps it going so make sure you have plenty of it.

Thinking About Your Next Fire

When your fire starts to die down you might be asleep or you might be preparing to move out for the day. Now is the time to start thinking about your next fire.

It is way better to make your next tinder bundle when you are seated by a nice warm fire. A waning fire is also a great place to make some char cloth. No matter what action you take you should have a plan for your next fire before the current one completely goes out.

If you gather a bunch of materials to make a tinder bundle, it often helps to just make a few of them at once instead of making one at a time. Making tinder bundles by a fire also gives you the ability to sit materials by the fire and dry them out even further.

Starting a Fire With a Tinder Bundle

Wrapping Up Everything You Need to Know About Tinder Bundles

There is no denying it. The tinder bundle helps make starting a fire much easier. It doesn’t always make it a sure thing but it is much easier than trying to just light kindling with a direct flame.

We also have an in-depth article on starting a fire with a tinder bundle.

When you need fire it is essential. Whether you need it for warmth, cooking, light, or water purification. Fire-making should be a skill that you practice often. Learning to make and use one of these will give you a much better chance of success.