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One thought led to another and I started wondering how effective wax paper would be to bring along as tinder to start a fire. I've seen suggestions of using paraffin in conjunction with other materials as a firestarter, so it seems like paraffin-coated paper could be really useful, as well as really easy and cheap to acquire and bring with you anywhere (plus it's somewhat waterproof). However, I've never really seen any mention of it before.

I'll probably try some experiments with it later, but was wondering if there were other thoughts on the matter. It might not even be possible; after all, it seems like some wax papers might be meant to go in the oven without burning (and I'm not talking about parchment paper).

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As to your experiments, in addition to setting in on fire. Try different methods (like rolling it up). Also leave some out in the rain and elemnets to see how it reacts if left out. Another is to put it in a backpack under some clothes to see if the praffin runs if heated or something else happens. –  OrionDarkwood Jul 2 '12 at 15:04

2 Answers 2

I use alcohol based napkins (aka wet-naps/handy-wipes). They are individually packaged, light in a cinch, come free with a lot of fast food (fried chicken, ribs, etc.) and the packaging is usually pretty robust a protecting the contents from being compromised. I also use them for cleaning my hands, face and pits in the field.

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Just got around to trying out some experiments, and so far it seems to be pretty robust. In most of the things I've tried, it lit immediately and was consumed entirely, no need to re-light (except for the wet test, I'll mention below). I used a lighter, so I can't be certain other methods (flint, bow, etc.) will ignite it as well, but given how quickly it lit they might not be much different.

  • Loose crumpled ball: Burns quickly, all gone in about 15 seconds.
  • Folded into a tight square: Burns very slowly but steadily. Took (approximately) five minutes to burn out. This seemed pretty optimal for starting a fire.
  • Folded into a tight square, soaked in water for a while: After squeezing out most of the moisture, it seemed somewhat dry so I tried to light it. It lit but wouldn't stay lit. I unfolded it and let it sit to dry for a couple minutes, then refolded it. After that, it lit and burned pretty much the same as the dry folded test.
  • Crumpled in a ball for a while: Pretty much the same as the tight square, though it might've lasted slightly shorter and burned with a larger flame.
  • Folded and kept on top of a warm oven for a while: Doesn't seem to have run or melted; it didn't stick to or run into the paper towel it was tucked inside. Discolored from the heat but lit and burned without any problem.
  • Folded in my wallet: Going to just leave it in there for a while and see if it affects how it lights. By this point I'm assuming it won't have much of a problem, but I'll update this if it has any effect.

Other notes are that the tightness that it's folded affects how much ash is left behind; if it's folded lightly, it all but disappears, but the tightly folded square leaves a significant chunk of ash behind. I wasn't able to detect any chemical or plastic smells while it was burning, but that doesn't really guarantee for me that it's not making any toxic fumes so I figure it's safer to avoid inhaling around it while it's lighting. The brand itself may matter -- for all this I used Reynolds.

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This is great stuff! –  Russell Steen Jul 11 '12 at 4:04
    
Great tests, thanks for this! –  berry120 Jul 16 '12 at 14:25
    
Glad it's been useful for more than just me! –  Doug Kavendek Jul 19 '12 at 3:46

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