Use as little Vaseline as possible- the stuff's job is to a.) keep the cotton dry, and b.) to burn like a candle using the cotton as the wick. I used to take a wad of cotton, scoop up a dab of gel on it then knead several of the balls to distribute the gel. Now a days I just buy a pack of fire starters- they are already made just right and only take a little fluffing to be ready. I also think they light easier than the Vaseline does- they use more of a wax substance. Coghlans Emergency Tinder Heck, $4.50 for a bunch of starters that I can tuck all over in kits, or even carry a few wads of in my pockets without any other packaging is a great deal in my eyes!