You can use char cloth to start a fire in an emergency, but it's dangerous to keep and transport. These cotton fire-starting wafters are easy to make, safer to stash in an emergency kit=, and all you need to make them is a candle and some cosmetic cotton pads.
Just put the candle into a pan you don't mind getting some wax in, and turn up the heat, low and slow. Wait until you have about 3cm to 6cm of liquid wax in the bottom of the pan. Then use some tweezers or tongs to put a few cotton pads at the bottom of the pan all in one layer so they don't overlap. In a few seconds, they'll absorb a good bit of the wax, but just enough to coat the outside. Take them out and let them cool on a sheet of wax paper completely before tossing them into a zipper bag. That's all there is to it.
The next time you need to start a fire quickly, just grab one of the pads, tear it open partially to expose the cotton fibres inside, and light it up. You'll get a slow-burning fire-starter that won't go out before the rest of your kindling has caught on too. The tip was inspired by the old http://www.lifehacker.com.au/2007/10/start_a_fire_in_the_rain/cotton balls and vaseline trick, and it's clearly intended for camping or emergency kits. But we can't see why it wouldn't work for any kind of fire you might need to light, whether it's a fireplace or even a charcoal grill. What do you think? How would you improve it? Let us know in the comments below.