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Camping Hacks

Part 6

You are about to read about my favorite of all the camping hacks in the series!

Camping hack #26

Use Doritos for kindling.

This really works! Who would have thought it??

If you have forgotten to bring newspaper or firestarter, just set a match to a small pile of Doritos. They will ignite easily, and burn steadily.

burning Doritos

Place some small sticks over top of the burning chips, and you'll have a blaze started in no time.

burning twigs

Struggling to get a fire started with damp kindling - or no kindling - is one of the most frustrating parts of camping. I'm excited to know that a handful of Doritos can solve the problem!

Doritos are not something we eat regularly, but I'm considering putting a few snack-sized bags in the camping tub. They really do work that well!

Of course, I'd have to camouflage them somehow, or my family would eat them before we had a chance to use them! (Actually, that's what happened when I was preparing to try this hack. I bought a large bag of Doritos - and before we got around to having a campfire, the bag was empty. I bought another bag - and the same thing happened. I bought a third bag and protected it fiercely until it was time to start the fire.)

Of course, the fact that Doritos burn so well tells me that they are even greasier and oilier and more unhealthy than I thought they are!

Now I'm wondering whether other varieties of chips burn too. I tried to ignite a few regular Kettle Chips brand chips, and I can tell you that they don’t burn at all. More research on other brands is required!

You don't need many Doritos to start a fire. Just one 1 oz. snack sized pack will do the trick. This box will start 50 fires - if you can keep your family from eating the chips first!

The verdict: Borderline genius!

Camping hack #27

Make pocket-sized oil lamps out of travel-size or hotel toiletry shampoo bottles.

Before I discuss this one, I should explain that I am not a crafty or a handy person. If you are, perhaps you'll have more fun and better luck with this project than I did. I found it an exercise in frustration.

Finding and washing out a little bottle took a bit of time.

Sorting through my husband's supply of sockets and finding one that fit the bottle perfectly took more time. (Don't even think about going out and buying a socket! If you don't have one on hand, stop right now.)

Finding an old towel and cutting a strip of cloth for the wick took more time.

materials for making a mini oil lamp

Getting that strip of cloth through the tiny hole in the socket took more time than I care to remember.

Filling the tiny bottle with canola oil was messy.

Stuffing the wick into the oil-filled bottle was frustrating.

Shoving the socket onto the bottle (now that my hands were coated in oil) was frustrating.

And then - I lit it.

mini oil lamp with small flame

I worried that the bottle would tip over, so I kept it in a metal pan.

The tiny flame sent out enough acrid smoke that my children in the next room complained about the smell.

No worries, though: the flame lasted only a few seconds, and then we were left with this:

mini oil lamp with miniscule flame

If you really want a small, safe, easy to use flame, buy a camping candle lantern!

The verdict: A waste of time!

Camping hack #28

Forgo the meat marinade and put the rosemary right on the coals.

Maybe this method would flavor your barbecued meat - but I didn’t try it and I'm not going to. Here’s why:

Marinating your meat is not only about adding flavor, but also about making the meat tender - and most importantly, about possibly decreasing the health risks associated with eating barbecued meat.  Tossing a bundle of rosemary on the coals won’t help with either of those needs.

Marinating is easy: just mix up some oil and vinegar in a baking dish, add some optional ingredients, and let the meat soak in it for at least a couple of hours. (The longer, the more flavorful.)

steak marinating in a glass pan

When I'm camping, I like to marinate steaks in a ziploc bag. It's a neat and tidy method.

steak marinating in a ziploc bag

Once you have tried marinating, you'll realize that it's not a big deal at all.

Here are a few easy and delicious meat marinades.

The verdict: An interesting idea, but it misses the point.

Camping hack #29

Bring cheeses in waxed packaging.

Babybel cheese

It's true: cheese in waxed packaging does last longer than other cheese.

I experimented with Babybel cheese. After 7 days with no refrigeration, the cheese was still fresh and delicious.

An added bonus is that you can save the wax and let your kids play with it. It’s a great sculpture material!

tiny sculptures made with wax

Just don’t forget about the wax and leave it in a hot vehicle - especially not on the fabric seats!

The verdict: A great idea!

Here's a package of 28 Babybel cheeses - enough to build a wax masterpiece!

Camping hack #30

Add bundles of sage to a campfire to keep mosquitoes away.

I didn't get around to trying this in time, and now mosquito season is over for the year.

I am looking forward to testing this idea, and I'm really hoping that it works!

I prefer not to use mosquito repellent that contains DEET, but I haven't yet found an effective alternative. We've tried everything: citronella candles ... "natural" repellents ...

natural mosquito repellents

... repellent-impregnated bandanas ... mosquito repellent patches ...

mosquito patch

... wrist bracelets ... and more. So far, nothing has worked reliably to keep the mosquitoes from biting. In mosquito territory, we cover up completely - or get bitten.

I highly recommend using a mosquito head net . Even my kids are happy to wear one when the bugs are really bad.

woman wearing head net

Here are some more suggestions about mosquito bite prevention.

The verdict: I'll let you know next summer! My fingers are crossed!

Even if the sage works, I'll continue to rely on my head net. This mosquito head net is inexpensive and effective.

Continue to Part 7

Did you miss the beginning of the camping hacks series? Here's the link to Part 1.

Before you head out on your next camping adventure, be sure to check out The Camping Family's home page. It will point you to lots of essential information.

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