Hold on a moment; don’t throw that gum wrapper away. It might be just what you need to get your next fire going. At least, it could be if it’s the type of gum wrapper that comes with a thin coating of aluminum foil on the outside of it. Coupled with a battery, that gum wrapper makes a great fire starter.

Oddly enough, this method originated in prisons as a way for inmates to light cigarettes when they didn’t have access to matches or a butane lighter. But how does it work?

Have you ever taken a good look at a fuse? A common trait of fuses is that they all have a thin spot in them. That’s the spot that’s supposed to “blow” if too much current flows through the line. The amperage rating of the fuse is how much current can flow through the fuse without causing that spot to burn.

You can use that same principle to your advantage, making a “fuse” out of your gum wrapper. All you need to do is cut the gum wrapper to make a fuse out of it. Start by cutting a strip about 1/2 inch wide, and then cut a notch in both sides of it, so that you have a spot that is only about 1/8 inch wide. That’s your burn point.

To use the gum wrapper fire starter, all you need to do is place one end of the aluminum over one end of an AA battery and the other end over the other end of the battery. The gum wrapper will burn through in a couple of seconds, giving you a fire. The paper will burn for a moment, giving you time to drop that fire onto your tinder.