Jute Twine and Fire Starting


Last weekend I was at an event in which there was a demonstration of various methods of fire starting.  One young gentleman was extremely fast at starting a bow and drill, you could tell he had done a lot of practice.  He was using jute twine to form the bird’s nest in which he placed his hot ember.  The jute worked beautifully and flamed up well.

This got me to thinking about jute, I knew it burned, but had never used it to start fires.  So since then I have been playing with it and will add some to my fire starting kit.  One good thing about jute twine is that it is multipurpose.

I found out that jute will light readily with a match or BIC lighter, but what about a Light My Fire firesteel.  I took jute twine and separated the strands to make a pile about as big a round as a silver dollar.  With just the jute and the firesteel, it took quite a bit of effort to ignite it.   If you were cold and wet, you would probably be in trouble.  I then took and smeared a little Vaseline on the jute and it ignited fairly easily.  Adding a little bit of magnesium savings worked the same.

Placing hot embers into jute birds nest

In conclusion

  • Jute lights well with an open flame
  • Jute is hard to start with just a firesteel, but it can be done
  • Jute lights well when mixed with Vaseline and ignite with a firesteel.
  • Jute lights well when mixed with a small amount of magnesium shavings and ignited with a fire steel .
  • Jute makes a great birds nest to use with hot embers from a bow and drill.
See also  Living Off the Land and Foraging for Calories.
Hot embers in jute just before its blown on and bursts into flame


Because of the fact that is does double duty as both twine and a fire starter, I will add it to my pack.  Every time I practice fire starting, I am reminded of how important practicing this skill is.  If you have trouble on a warm, dry and sunny day, imagine what it will be like when you are tired, wet, cold and have started to lose your fine motor skills.

Jute twine, and a birds nest on the left, this is what I used when I started the fires with just sparks, magnesium shavings and Vaseline.
Light My Fire Firesteel


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6 thoughts on “Jute Twine and Fire Starting”

  1. This is a great tip! Thanks for posting it. I expect that you could improve the outdoor utility of jute twine, making it more moisture resistant, by saturating it with melted Vaseline and respooling. This would yield moisture resistant cordage which will last longer when exposed to weathet and doubles as wet weather tinder. A few recycled wire or solder spools of this tucked in the ruck would serve multiple uses and last a long time. A sewing bobbin load would tuck neatly in your pocket survival tin!

  2. Jute twine is awesome, and cheap! Using petroleum jelly will add some water resistance and increase the burn time.

  3. Most of the problems with fire starting begin with trying to use firesteel when a simple Bic lighter will do just fine.

      1. Thats exactly right. I had a Bic lighter in my ditty bag that somehow came apart and emptied out the fuel. Made an excellent paper weight. You might get enough spark off the empty lighter to start something like a gas stove. I didn’t have a gas stove. Cold ramon and cold oatmeal leaves a lot to be desired. Having alternate methods to start a fire is just plain common horse sense. Besides, its fun to learn different techniques.

  4. I find it hard to believe that anyone would have trouble igniting a ball of properly prepared jute twine using a quality ferro rod. I have started several dozen fires with jute twine and a ferro rod and never has it taken more than two scrapes to ignite the twine. Could it be that your twine was very damp that day?

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