Anyone who’s tried to make a fire without dry tinder will tell you that it is hard, really hard to get it alight. The secret to a successful fire is bone dry tinder! Sometimes this is just not possible such as in wet weather where very thing is wet and thus not suitable as tinder. There are a number of brands out there that make artificial ready-to-use tinder such as Tinder Quick and WetFire to name a couple.
To make your own affordable, cost-effective tinder, put a dab of petroleum jelly (such as Vaseline) on regular cotton pads or cotton balls. In Australia, Vaseline is available from most pharmacies as well as the health care sections of most supermarkets. And of course you can get cotton balls or pads from your bathroom!
Adding a small dab of petroleum jelly to a cotton pad or ball will extend its burn time and will allow you time to grab kindling to get a heart warming blaze going in no time.
You can then prepare several cotton balls and place them in a ziplock bag for stowing in your bug out bag or survival kit. This will be your emergency tinder.
When you need a fire, simply take out a cotton ball, pull it apart a little bit and then throw sparks at it with your flint and steel. The cotton ball will burst into flames and will burn for 2-3 minutes.