Cotton wool and vaseline, it's the old bushcrafters standby the first method anybody is ever taught when they first set out on the great woodsman's journey and it got me to thinking that although theoretically they are both natural products they have been highly refined and if our ancestors had use of them I'm sure they would have relished the prospect..But there is bound to be a simple alternative, non-refined and easily made that would even have been available to our forefathers, one that would give a reliable and long lasting flame that a fire could be conjured from. I think they may very well have used the following method
I got some animal fat and rendered it down to a liquid, I used pig fat but I think goose or duck fat would be better
once it was rendered down I poured the liquified fat into a dish
I then took a cattail and used it to soak up the warm fat
out into the woods for a test and I teased some of the cattail apart and got it ready to take a spark
and it took the spark instantly and burned for nearly 3 minutes. A brilliant reliable method using readily available products that would have been available to our forefathers and one they could possibly have used to light fires, a fore-runner to Cotton balls and Petroleum jelly.