Saturday, June 1, 2013

How To Make Your Own Fire Starters

diy firestarters

WELCOME to “Save My Sanity Saturday” at One Good Thing By Jillee….where I attempt to avoid having a nervous breakdown by actually giving myself a day off from blogging once a week!

So pull up a chair and sit back and enjoy an “oldie but goodie” from the One Good Thing By Jillee archives.

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— Originally posted – June 11, 2012 —

The backyard bonfire season has arrived at our house! Last night we had our first “s’mores by the fire” night of the summertime and it was WONDERFUL as usual. :-)  We had originally planned on doing in the night before…but it turned out to be too windy. Tonight was absolutely perfect conditions and we had a lovely time.

Even building the fire was a breeze thanks to these handy dandy little fire starters I made the day before. I’d seen them on BOTH of my sisters’ blogs before (Camp Wander and Riches To Rags By Dori) and thought they looked interesting, but saw no need to make them myself since we don’t have a “real” fireplace in our house. But then summertime rolled around and I got to wondering how these might work for backyard bonfires.

So I decided to give it a try.

 

The “ingredients” and the process couldn’t be simpler. In fact, everything you need to make these is “junk” you most likely have laying around your house right now.

*Dryer Lint
*Empty Egg Cartons
*Old Candles

It didn’t take long to save up MORE than enough dryer lint for this project. I actually had WAY more than I needed so I am saving it for another batch down the road.

The egg cartons we ALWAYS have on hand…and I had a couple of old candles stashed away in a cupboard just waiting for SOME D.I.Y. project calling for wax. :-)

 

fire starters

I took my ingredients, along with an old tin can for melting the wax in, outside to the backyard. I used my weberQ to melt the wax.

Safety Alert Update:  Since posting this I have been “educated” about the dangers of melting wax over an open flame. Janice (and others) have pointed out that any open flame, can ignite wax vapors. A double boiler (or water bath) method is recommended.

 

fire starters

While waiting for the wax to melt…I stuffed the egg carton with my lint collection. For some reason all my lint had long, blonde hair in it. Wonder where THAT came from!  Hopefully it’s very flammable. :-)

 

fire starters

When the wax was melted I carefully poured wax into each individual egg carton cup, just enough to saturate the lint. Then all you do is let them cool.

Once COMPLETELY COOLED they break apart easily and you can toss them in a bucket or some other appropriate container for your next fire!

For some reason I really had my doubts about whether these things were going to be all that they were cracked up to be, but fortunately I was proved wrong. They worked FANTASTIC!

 

fire starters

The hubster added 3 of these little nuggets to the firewood pile in our humble sandbox-turned-firepit and lit them with our grill lighter and literally within MINUTES we had a beautiful, roaring fire going! No need for any sort of “accelerant” at all. (We have been known to resort to dousing the wood with lighter fluid to get our fires going!)

 

fire starters

So now with the fire going full force, we were ready for s’mores time! I had forgotten how much I really LIKE s’mores!  YUMMM!

 

I even spent some time in the afternoon making my first batch ever of homemade gluten-free graham crackers! (The gluten-free ones are the ones on the right.)  They were a hit with No. 2 gluten-free son and everybody else! I promise to share the recipe SOON!

So you’re just going to have to check back.  See how I am??  :-)

fire starters

 UPDATE:

Here is the link to the Homemade Gluten-Free Graham Crackers post!

 

 


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65 thoughts on “How To Make Your Own Fire Starters

  1. Melissa Steckmann

    Great idea, so much cheaper then purchasing fire starters. I like to do something similar. When I find a place that has beautiful, big pine cones I gather several bags full. I melt old candles of any color and then with a pair of tongs I dip the pine cones in the melted wax. They make wonderful fire starters and look very pretty sitting in a basket by our wood stove.

    Reply
    1. Penny Hannah

      I’m with Melissa on this one. I made HUGE quantities of coloured waxy pine cones and sold them at a Christmas market, all gussied up in baskets, cellophane and big bows. My greatest triumph was selling some back to the folk I had gathered the pine cones from!!

      Reply
  2. Jen C

    I hear Fritos make good firestarters in a pinch too. Just don’t think about how much oil must be in them if you decided to eat the chips.

    Reply
  3. Laff

    I love this idea!

    I think that you may have a fire hazard w/ the method of melting the wax on the grill though. Even on a stove, it’s recommended that you melt wax using a double boiler.

    Reply
    1. Hannah

      My husband and I make these all the time, and we use these ingredients, plus small squares of cut-up cereal box cardboard for a “wick” (which probably isn’t necessary, since we just light the edge of the egg carton piece). We melt our wax using an electric frying pan that is dedicated for that task only.
      We have also been saving our old scentsy wax to throw in the wax pan.

      Reply
  4. Lauralee

    We used to make these when my boys were young, mostly for scouting activities, although we used sawdust in place of the dryer lint. This post was a nice reminder.

    Reply
    1. Ayshela

      I would steer clear of the styrofoam ones for two reasons:
      1. the hot wax would likely melt them
      2. styrofoam gives off toxic fumes when burned

      Reply
  5. TinaG

    Toilet paper rolls stuffed with dryer lint work great too. I’ve done both but never dipped them in wax. Not sure what the advantage is except maybe extending the life of the fire started?

    Reply
    1. Sherry

      I do this, also. I wrap the whole thing in a piece of newspaper or sales flyer, and twist the paper at each end. It looks like a Christmas cracker/popper. The twisted end acts as a wick to start the fire. It’s a good way of recycling what would otherwise be trash.

      Reply
  6. Katherine

    As a Girl Scout, we always made fire starters before going to camp. Two basic ingredients: Wax paper and old candle wax. Basically we had parents donate old candles (scented, whatever- but I don’t recommend scented candle wax as it gives off some smelly fumes that can affect your food) and we shaved them- no need to melt. We used vegetable peelers and cheese graters to get little slivers of wax. We then put the wax on 4 inch by 4 inch wax paper, rolled the ends like a candy kiss, and then used that as a firestarter. We could make a bunch of them and store them in our camp kits for fires.

    I’m kinda wary about using laundry lint however. Most of my laundry lint is cat hair and my hair. Burning hair? Gross smelling! But I guess if you use dryer sheets then it might smell like flowers when you light the fire.

    Reply
  7. Notsosuperscottishmummy

    Awesome although I am becoming an expert at starting our two wood burners without ant kindling or paper it’s not easy! Besides something important is gonna get it on my daily hunt for what to burn next!
    Looking forward to trying these out.
    Xxx

    Reply
  8. Steele

    You can also use dryer lint/cotton balls/newspaper/paper towel-tp rolls and Vaseline to make fire starters. I store them in tin foil or simply store the dryer lint in a baggie until needed and add the Vaseline on the spot. It’s a little messier however, there’s no danger of fire from melting wax.

    Reply
  9. Denise Holtz

    First of all …. LOVE your Blog!! Next to Pinterest, this is the place I spend most of my online time :-)

    I tried these after seeing them on Pinterest, and we used them camping a few weeks ago. It was windy and some of the wood was wet — did not matter in the least! This got the fires going for us with no trouble at all!!

    Reply
  10. Vicki

    This spring I saw a youtube video that showed firestarters made from cotton balls and Vaseline. You just spread open the cotton ball, put about 1/2 tsp of Vaseline inside, roll up the cotton around the Vaseline, and put in a plastic container like a used margarine or cake frosting tub. The Vaseline simply slows the burning time of the cotton way down. It gives you a flame for about 3-5 minutes. I started doing this, and I must say, it’s a quick and inexpensive method and works great. I get my supplies at the $1.00 store. Try it – you’ll like it!

    Reply
  11. Jan

    Love your website. Am going to try out these fire starters. Please don’t forget to post your recipe for the gluten free s’mores. They look so good.

    Jan

    Reply
  12. Pingback: Homemade {Gluten Free} Graham Crackers | One Good Thing by Jillee

  13. Heidi

    This past week in Girl Scouts we used just the dryer lint and kindling and it started right up. What is the advantage of using wax or Vaseline?

    Reply
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  15. Tara

    We use a wood stove for heat in the winter and I have been making these for a few years now. I love them but I wanted to tell you how I melt my wax. I have an old Candle Warmer Plate, you know the kind that plugs in and warms those big Yankee Candles. I also have an old Yankee Candle Jar, the smaller one, not the big tall one. I throw my wax scraps in it and walk away for a while and when it is melted, I just pour it into my egg carton. It takes a while for it to melt but it is pretty safe and I can do it inside while I get other stuff done. I just lay some newspapers under my carton, just in case! These little fire starters are awesome! I buy eggs by the 5 Dozen and it comes with a nice box to store them in. I can fit 90 of these little things in each box and I have three boxes full in my pantry. It’s probably time to start giving them away. I just keep making them because I can’t bring myself to throw the lint away if it has another use. If you know of another use for the lint I would appreciate the inspiration! ;) I love your blog and I always look forward to seeing new ideas from you!

    Reply
  16. Melodie

    I’ve been making these firestarters for years. Started out making them with my Girl Scout troop. What I discovered the very first time was that I needed to put a jelly roll pan under the egg cartons before we poured the wax into them. The wax that goes through comes right off the non-stick surface of the pan when it’s cool and no mess on the table (or concrete steps as the case may be). :-)

    Reply
  17. wondering

    how do you have candles without having matches? you have to create a “fire” without everything! create chemicals out of things in front of you! how do you create it in the middle of the desert, jungle, vast ocean, in your bedroom? thats what i want to know…

    Reply
  18. Donna

    Jillee, to make you smores less messy, I use the pre-made chocolate covered graham crackers. I’ve even used the mint flavored ones. Easy, cheaper, and less messy…

    Reply
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  20. Judy

    My husband and I make them all the time. We have a camper that says at the campground year around. One of our fellow campers showed me how to make them. I now make them and donate them to people all over by us. I’m a huge fan of safe do it your self home items.

    Reply
  21. Pat

    I made these, I just hope the hair in the lint doesn’t stink when it burns (haven’t used them yet).

    Also, I just put the can of paraffin in a pan of hot water on low heat (sorta like using a double boiler)and melted it on the stove. Works great, just watch the water so it doesn’t boil dry if you do a few batches.

    Reply
  22. Nicole

    I made these last week and used an electric candle warmer. I could let it go and come back with no worries about burnng the house down. They worked great with egg cartons and toilet paper rolls. Filled each one with lint..asked neighbors for help on this part. Ha
    Thanks for your great daily posts

    Reply
      1. Sue G.

        I’ve been using these for years in my woodstove. The wax all burns away so there is no residue left behind. I make mine with sawdust or wood shavings, old candles and cardboard egg cartons.

        Reply
  23. Jill Mount

    Jillee,
    At the moment I don’t have a use for these, but as I was looking at the post I was admiring your photos! You make such compelling pictures that I read through to the end. I enjoyed the comments, too, especially about the hair. I don’t think that in a couple of fire starters that you are going to have so much hair that it would be a problem. Very nice post, I may have to make some fire starters, just in case!

    Jill

    Reply
  24. Cindee

    I recently made some of the fire starters using empty cardboard rolls from toilet paper or paper towels. taking the dryer lint, I pack the tubes pretty firmly and then storde them for future use. I took them out to a campground where my extended family was camping and we used them for the evening fire. They were an instant hit and started the fire very easily.

    Reply
  25. silverdust

    As a “line dryer,” I have no lint, but as soon as Jillee remarked on long hair all over the house, I pictured my vacuum cleaner with all that lovely carpet lint and hair swirling in the top layer! Egads, but there’s a use for everything!

    Reply
  26. Chris

    Having these on hand will be so helpful. Jillee, we all get so much help from your website. It must be a satisfying feeling for you and your staff to do so much good in the world! I’m enjoying delving into the world of eo.

    Reply
  27. CTY

    Great Post!
    Love the fact that everything used was just headed to the garbage can.
    Here’s a variation if you don’t have time to make them ahead (or if you run out when camping). Pack a giant bag of dryer lint with the camping gear. Buy wax coated paper cups when you pick up the paper products. Stuff a cup with lint & a paper napkin (if you have one)–place on its side or nearly inverted on the kindling and light.
    To help the process– after every meal you are expected to stuff dryer lint & your spent napkin into your used cup and set in a box near the fire pit.

    Reply
  28. Shirley S

    Because I have dogs and long hair and I hate the smell of burning hair, instead of dryer lint, I purchase cedar chips (the kind used to line small pet cages) I use cupcake liners in a muffin tin, cedar chips and a drizzle of paraffin (available in the canning department of big discount stores). It works great, leaves no residue and no burning hair or candle scent

    Reply
    1. Kim

      pet pine chips is what we use also. Unused, of course lol I never thought of dryer lint but that sounds puposeful also. What about scrap material/rags?

      Reply
  29. Doreen Bateman

    Hi Jillee, I have always made these fire starters in cupcake liners. One is big enough to start a good fire. Raising 11 children I never ran out of a huge supply of. lint. LOL Thanks for all your sharing.

    Reply
  30. Nadine

    I have a magnetic bin on the side of my dryer, I usually toss the lint when it is full or my cousin told me to put it outside for the birds. You didn’t have that burnt hair smell? 2 days ago I gave away a broken wood chipper and the lady who picked it up commented on the pile of pine needles I was raking up she told me she used them to make her fire starters. I think I will have to try both lint and pine needles and take them camping and see which works better. I wonder if soy wax will work. I make candles using soy wax but I have a little regular left from my grandmothers candle making stuff. Also if you an electric burner you can melt the wax in a pot on that. I have one I think it is called a spare burner something like that. It has a temperature controlled knob on it I have used it for candles and making those homemade lotion bars you posted a while ago. I used an ice cube tray as a mold. I love your page. :)

    Reply
  31. Carla

    Another great idea–also eliminates gross, stinky fumes from commercial firelighters. But does anyone know how to melt candles without an electric stove, ’cause I don’t have one; my safety researcher hubby is not going to go for the tin can outdoor option, either, especially not in bushfire-prone South Australia, and the ‘net gives conflicting advice on the safety of either microwave or oven (containers in pans of water, like when making custard). Does anyone know if commercial “liquid wax” products would be safe to use? I’m saving my lint and egg cartons in hopes of actually being able to do this. Thanks!

    Reply
  32. Rebecca

    I just got back from camping, and I used my toilet paper roll starters and candle ends. I had lots of old stick candles I didn’t use, so I broke them into three to four inch pieces. I remove the lint from my toilet paper roll, put it between two large pieces of firewood, add some kindling, set the candle in the middle and light the candle. Done, and done, I have a fire in no time. It even works if it is windy or wet.

    Reply
  33. Nancy

    Why not melt the wax in a in a glass measuring cup in the microwave. Only use this cup for this purpose and any wax left in the glass will harden in the glass and then put it away til next use.

    Reply
  34. Mary Jo

    I also use a wax candle warmer to melt old wax. I use a tin can as I do not want to risk glad bursting. I do one thing different though. I use McDonald’s cup holders and insert lint then pour the wax over. I only need to use 1 to start a fire in my fireplace or outside in the pit! I seldom get the paper egg cartons.

    Reply
  35. Brenda Coghlan

    One thing you can add to fire starters are 2 of the wood matches, make sure you cover the ends of the matches with wax as well. Just makes it a little easier.

    Reply
  36. Iris

    My husband and I are former scout leaders. We made firestarters out of old newspaper and cotton twine. Use 2 folded sheets of paper. Tear it into about 2 in strips from the fold to the edge. (tearing it from top to bottom will not tear straight). Roll the paper tightly and tie with a cotton twine. Leave about a 3 inch piece of twine to dip the roll into the can of melted wax. Let about an inch of the twine get wax also. This will act as the wick when you light it. They are then stored in a metal coffee can for starting cooking and firecircle fires. I now use them to start my fireplace fires and they do not leave any residue on the fireplace. All the wax is absorbed in the paper and burns completely.

    Reply
  37. Gina Zahra

    We used to make the same fire starters until we saw a post about stuffing empty toilet paper rolls with lint – no wax and easy to transport. We took them camping recently and they worked a charm!!

    Thanks for all of your tips – I have learned quite a few things from your blog!

    Reply
  38. Krista

    What’s the deal with the wax? What does it do and what’s the difference between using toliet paper rolls stuffed with dryer lint or toliet paper rolls stuffed with dryer lint and then melted wax?

    Reply

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