When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more here.

Ultimate Guide To The Best Kindling For Your Campfire

If you’re anything like me, you know that a good ol’ campfire is the heart and soul of any camping trip.

But, starting a fire ain’t always a walk in the park.

That’s why I’m here to share my camping expertise with you and dish the dirt on the best kindling to use for a campfire.

What’s Kindling, Anyway?

Kindling is the smaller, easily ignitable material you’ll use to get your fire started.

It’s like the first spark of a relationship, if you will.

You’ll need it to ignite larger pieces of wood (a.k.a. fuel) to build a roaring campfire.

Kindling is a big deal because it helps create the foundation for your fire.

Without the right kindling, you’ll be struggling to get your fire going, and nobody wants that.

Plus, using the right kindling will make your life a whole lot easier and your camping experience more enjoyable. 

man kindles a fire in summer wood

The Three Main Types of Kindling

To make things simple and easy to understand, we can divide kindling into three main categories:

  • Natural Kindling
  • Man-made Kindling
  • Firestarters

These categories cover pretty much everything you’ll come across when trying to get a campfire started.

Natural Kindling

Mother Nature’s got your back when it comes to kindling.

When you’re out in the great outdoors, there’s no shortage of natural materials to get your fire going.

Here are some top picks that’ll make your campfire the envy of every other camper:

Dry Leaves and Grass

Dry leaves and grass are like a match made in heaven for your campfire.

They’re usually easy to find and catch fire quickly.

Just make sure they’re bone dry or they’ll just end up smokin’ and not burnin’.

To gather these bad boys, look for leaves and grass that have fallen off the ground or are hanging on the lower branches of trees.

The higher up you go, the drier the leaves and grass are likely to be.

Twigs and Small Branches

Twigs and small branches are the bread and butter of natural kindling.

They’re everywhere, and they’re super versatile.

To gather the best twigs and branches for your campfire, look for ones that snap easily when bent.

That’s a sure sign they’re dry and ready to burn like there’s no tomorrow.

And remember, variety is the spice of life – gather twigs and branches of different sizes to help your fire transition from kindling to larger fuelwood smoothly.

Pine Needles and Pine Cones

If you find yourself camping in a coniferous forest, consider yourself lucky!

Pine needles and pine cones are your new best friends when it comes to kindling.

They catch fire quickly and burn with gusto, thanks to the resin they contain.

To gather pine needles and cones, look for fallen ones on the ground.

Pro tip: if you can, find pine cones that are still slightly closed – they’ll burn longer and provide a more sustained source of heat for your fire.

Bark and Wood Shavings

Don’t overlook the power of bark and wood shavings as kindling.

Thin, papery bark from trees like birch or aspen is especially good for starting fires.

Just be sure to collect bark and shavings from fallen trees or branches – never strip it from live trees.

Use your knife to shave off thin strips, and you’ve got yourself some prime kindling material.

Now that you’re well-versed in the world of natural kindling, you’ll be ready to tackle any campfire challenge that comes your way.

Remember, the key is to use a mix of these materials to build a strong, lasting fire that’ll keep you warm all night long. 

campfire at campsite

Man-made Kindling

For those who like to come prepared or just want a little extra help, man-made kindling options can be a lifesaver.

Check out these options that’ll make starting a campfire a breeze:


Crumple up a few pages of newspaper to get your fire started.

The trick is to crumple them loosely so that air can circulate, making it easier for the paper to catch fire.

Be sure to check that the ink is non-toxic if you plan on cooking over your fire.


Cardboard, especially the corrugated kind, is another fantastic man-made kindling option.

It burns longer than newspaper and helps get your fuelwood ignited.

To use cardboard effectively, tear it into strips or small pieces and make sure it’s dry.

You can even roll up the strips to create mini firestarters that’ll burn for a longer time.

Remember to keep an eye on your fire, as cardboard can sometimes produce more ash and sparks than natural kindling materials.

Dryer Lint

That’s right – dryer lint is lightweight, easily ignitable, and surprisingly efficient at getting your fire going.

To use dryer lint as kindling, simply collect it from your dryer’s lint trap and store it in a small, airtight container.

When you’re ready to start your fire, fluff up the lint a bit to increase airflow, then place it under your fuelwood and light it up!

Wax-dipped Materials

Wax-dipped materials like cotton balls, paper towels, or sawdust are another great option for man-made kindling.

The wax helps these materials burn longer and more consistently, making them perfect for getting your fire started.

To make your own wax-dipped kindling, simply melt some paraffin or beeswax, dip your material of choice into the wax, and let it cool and harden.

When you’re ready to use them, just light the edge, and you’ll have a slow-burning, reliable source of kindling.

With these man-made kindling options in your arsenal, you’ll be ready to tackle any campfire situation with confidence.

Just remember to keep it safe, and always follow local regulations and guidelines. 


For those looking for a no-fuss, surefire way to get a campfire going, firestarters are the way to go.

They’re like the cherry on top of your kindling sundae!

Store-Bought Firestarters

There are plenty of store-bought firestarters on the market, like firestarter bricks, cubes, or sticks.

They’re designed to be easily ignitable and long-lasting, making them an excellent choice for hassle-free fire building.

Just follow the instructions on the package, and you’ll have a roaring campfire in no time.

DIY Firestarters

If you’re a crafty camper who loves a good DIY project, you can make your own firestarters using materials like cotton balls soaked in petroleum jelly or wax-covered pine cones.

These DIY options are budget-friendly, super effective, and give you major camping street cred.

Firestarters: Store-Bought vs. DIY

When it comes to firestarters, sometimes you want a little extra oomph to get your campfire roaring in no time.

Both store-bought and DIY firestarters have their perks, so let’s break it down and figure out which option is the best for you and your campfire needs.

And don’t worry, we’ve got the lowdown on how to use these materials effectively and safely!

Store-Bought Firestarters

For those who want a no-fuss, surefire way to get their campfire going, store-bought firestarters are where it’s at.

They come in various forms, like bricks, cubes, or sticks, and are designed to be easily ignitable and long-lasting.

Here’s how to make the most of these trusty firestarters:

  • Place the firestarter in the center of your fire pit, teepee, or log cabin structure.
  • Stack your kindling and fuelwood around the firestarter, ensuring there’s enough space for air to circulate.
  • Light the firestarter according to the package instructions, and watch your campfire come to life!

Always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines and safety tips when using store-bought firestarters.

They’re convenient and reliable, making them a great addition to any camper’s toolkit.

DIY Firestarters

If you’re more of a crafty camper and love a good DIY project, homemade firestarters are right up your alley.

They’re budget-friendly, effective, and you can make them with materials you might already have lying around.

Let’s explore a couple of popular DIY firestarter options:

Cotton Balls Soaked in Petroleum Jelly

These little guys pack a punch and are super easy to make.

Just follow these steps:

  • Take a cotton ball and stretch it out a bit to increase its surface area.
  • Spread a generous amount of petroleum jelly onto the cotton ball, making sure it’s well coated but not completely saturated.
  • Store the cotton balls in a small, airtight container or plastic bag.
  • To use, fluff up the cotton ball a bit, place it under your kindling, and light it up!

Wax-Covered Pine Cones

These homemade firestarters are not only effective but also make a great eco-friendly option.

Here’s how to create your own wax-covered pine cones:

  • Gather some pine cones, preferably ones that are still slightly closed.
  • Melt some paraffin or beeswax in a double boiler or old pot.
  • Using tongs or a fork, dip each pine cone into the melted wax, ensuring it’s well coated.
  • Place the wax-covered pine cones on wax paper to cool and harden.
  • When you’re ready to use one, simply place it under your kindling and fuelwood, and light it up!

Whether you opt for store-bought or DIY firestarters, both options are excellent ways to kickstart your campfire with ease.

Choose the one that suits your style, and you’ll be enjoying toasty, crackling campfires in no time. 

Factors to Consider When Choosing Kindling

Hey campfire enthusiasts! Before we dive into the nitty-gritty of specific kindling materials, let’s chat about some key factors to consider when picking out the best kindling for your campfire.

Keep these in mind, and you’ll be well on your way to becoming a kindling connoisseur.

So, let’s get started!


First things first, you gotta work with what you’ve got.

The best kindling is the kind that’s easy to find and readily available.

Whether you’re using natural or man-made materials, it’s essential to have enough kindling on hand to get your fire started and keep it going until the larger fuelwood catches.

So, scope out the area and see what’s up for grabs!

Ease of Ignition

When it comes to kindling, you want something that lights up like a charm.

The quicker and easier your kindling catches fire, the less time you’ll spend huffin’ and puffin’ to get your campfire going.

Dry materials, like leaves or twigs, are your best bet here.

But remember, even the best kindling won’t do you any good if it’s damp, so always keep an eye out for dry options.

Environmental Impact

As responsible campers, we’ve got to take care of Mother Nature.

When choosing kindling, consider the impact on the environment.

Opt for materials that won’t harm the ecosystem, and follow Leave No Trace principles when gathering kindling.

Avoid ripping branches off living trees, and instead, pick up fallen twigs and leaves.

Remember, we’re just visitors in nature’s playground, so let’s treat it with respect.

Troubleshooting Tips: Solving Common Campfire Challenges

Even the most seasoned campers run into campfire-building snags from time to time.

No worries, though! We’ve got your back with some practical solutions for common campfire challenges like damp kindling, strong winds, and limited kindling resources.

So let’s get down to business and troubleshoot like a pro!

Dealing with Damp Kindling

Moisture can be a real party pooper when it comes to building a campfire, but don’t let it rain on your parade.

Here are a few tips to deal with damp kindling:

  • Try to find the driest materials available. Look for kindling under tree canopies, rock overhangs, or other sheltered areas.
  • Split larger sticks or branches to expose the drier wood inside. You can use a knife or hatchet to do this.
  • Use a firestarter to help ignite damp kindling. Both store-bought and DIY options can work wonders.
  • Give your fire extra TLC. It might take a bit longer to get going, so be patient and keep feeding it small, dry materials until it’s roaring.

Battling Strong Winds

Wind can be a real headache when trying to build a campfire, but with a few tweaks, you can outsmart even the gustiest conditions.

Here’s how:

  • Choose a sheltered location for your fire, such as behind a large rock or a natural windbreak like a row of trees or bushes.
  • Build a wind barrier using rocks, logs, or your camping gear – just make sure it’s not too close to the fire.
  • Start with smaller, easily ignitable kindling and gradually add larger pieces as your fire grows stronger.
  • Consider using a wind-resistant firestarter or lighter to make igniting your fire easier.

Working with Limited Kindling Resources

Not all campsites are created equal, and sometimes you might find yourself short on kindling resources.

Don’t fret – we’ve got some solutions:

  • Think outside the box and use unconventional kindling materials like dry moss, bark, or even corn chips.
  • Consider bringing some extra man-made kindling, like newspaper or cardboard, as a backup plan.
  • Take the time to thoroughly search your surroundings for hidden kindling gems, like twigs tucked under bushes or dry grass hidden beneath rocks.
  • Practice your fire-building skills and become a pro at using minimal kindling to create a roaring campfire.

Armed with these troubleshooting tips, you’ll be ready to tackle any campfire challenge that comes your way. So go ahead and show Mother Nature who’s boss.

Sharing is caring!