Lighting a campfire: matches or cigarettes

I went camping this week, and I pulled out a box of Diamond brand matches. I lit a match to start a campfire and within maybe 1 second the fire on the tip of the match very nearly reached my hand that was holding the match. I like camping, but that was too close a call. I’m thinking of just lighting a cigarette (with my lighter) and throwing it on the tinder. If I use a cigarette instead of a match, will the tinder take more time to catch fire or will it catch fire more quickly?

I suspect your perception of time is somewhat… altered.

Wont the cigarette go out or just become a weak ember if just tossed? If you smoke it for say a minute, get a large burning ember, and then carefully place it to some tinder it might work better.

I’m not sure totally. Maybe try it at home first.

I guess if you want to waste a cigarette like that, give it a try. Or just drop the match onto the tinder pile. Personally, I light some tinder in my other hand with the match and use that to start the fire. Also, you have some weird matches.

Buy a grill lighter.


Cigarette? Fires are usually harder to start than that. I keep a ziplock full of dryer lint mixed with shredded 00 steel wool. Then use a flint for ignition. Also worth mentioning, the driest wood in the forest is usually the dead lower branches of standing trees.

If you hold a match vertical like, the flame tends to go up.

I’ve dipped matches in melted paraffin to waterproof them. Did you perhaps do this trick but used kerosene instead?:smiley:

Cigarettes only light fires when you don’t want them to. Like when nobody is around in the middle of 2000 acres of protected forestland abutting a very expensive housing division.

First, make sure you know how to build a campfire.

Used dryer sheets and dryer lint make excellent tinder, if you can remember to bring them camping. Stuff a few in with your kindling and light one (or more if it’s windy) with a match or lighter.

Candle ends or hardened wax blobs you’ve scraped off your candlesticks make excellent additions to your kindling (still need tinder to catch and spread the initial spark and melt the wax).

But yes, to answer the question in the OP: matches or lighter. Not a cigarette. If I had a cigarette, it would be put to better use broken open and used in my tinder.

You wouldn’t be an astroturfer paid for by an anonymous brand of matches, would you ?

I just toss the match. But then, I use gas to light my beach fires. No pussy-footing around!

Were I camping, I’d use a match and a fire built accordingly. Actually, back when I camped much, I always carried a butane lighter, which worked even better.

BTW, you can control how fast a match burns down by the angle you hold it. Fire tends to travel uphill. If you point the head of the match down, it’ll burn down the shaft a lot faster.

used dryer sheets are plastic in my limited experience. they do work well repurposed for soaking up oil slicks.

I’ll assume you have a ton of [del]munchies[/del] snacks around?

Any kind of snack food that’s been fried, e.g. potato chips, Fritos, tortilla chips, make excellent firestarters.

We always used newspaper, then kindling, then sticks, then logs. I was an honorary Girl Guide:)

If you have a functioning lighter, why use a match at all? Just find an appropriate-sized twig or stick, light that, and use that to light the rest.

I have never been able to light any fire at all with a cigarette and I have tried hundreds of times using every material I could think of. A cigarette will not even light gasoline (you don’t need to try it, just take my word for it). I have tried paper towels, tissues, straw and newspaper among many other things that are generally easy to light. The best I have ever achieved was some smoldering that burned holes in the material.

Cigarettes are a terrible fire starting tool. A flint and steel would work better.

So if I use a cigarette instead of a match, will the tinder take more time to catch fire or will it catch fire more quickly?

Like I said, I don’t think you will ever get the cigarette to light a fire at all using any common material. I spent way too much time trying it as a teenager and never succeeded even one time. It is theoretically possible somehow because all those couch and wildfires supposedly started by cigarettes aren’t made up but it takes some unusually combustible tinder and the exact right conditions. Couch fires supposedly require extended internal smoldering before they eventually combust and that can take many minutes to hours. You can’t light a campfire with a cigarette that way.

Try it yourself if you don’t believe me. Grab anything you will make good tinder and then try to light it with a cigarette. I bet you can’t get it to light at all.

This is true. I can’t tell you how many time I tried to ignite a brush pile by throwing a cigarette onto/into it.

BTW, if you ever find yourself in a lifeboat with a candle, a gas lantern, a pack of cigarettes, but no matches, here’s what you do: Take one of the cigarettes out of the pack and toss it overboard, making the lifeboat a cigarette lighter!

You can buy fire starter sticks that work great for bonfires. They’re basically just compressed wood and wax that ignite readily and burn long enough to get your fire going. I don’t bother with paper or other tinder, as these work every time. You can even find some that come with a striking head on them, and the striker surface on the box they come in.