"Anyone that doesn't agree with leggings as pants can physically fight me.
And I'm going to win because I have a full range of motion due to the fact that I am wearing leggings as pants."

Monday, January 4, 2010

Homemade Firestarters

Firestarters are a super simple project. They really come in handy when you're trying to make a fire at home, but they're almost invaluable when you're out camping in the woods. (So says the girl who was taught, as a kid, how to make fires using a flint. Trust me, a firestarter and a match is better.) This project also makes use of nothing new as it's made from 100% unwanted, unused and recycled materials. Which also means that it costs nothing at all.

I love things that are so cheap that they're free.


This is a good way to use some of the branches from your Christmas tree, should you still have one hanging around your living room (like we do).

Also, it used up 3 of the dozens of old egg cartons that we have stacked in the garage, the cardboard ones, not the plastic kind.

And the final ingredient in the firestarter recipe is old saved wax. I have a Mason jar (no way) in which I save all the butt ends of burned out candles.


How To
Basically, you strip the needles off the branches and fill up the egg cartons with them. The girls thoughtfully left little sprigs on the top of each cup for prettiness and for ease of lighting.

(I offered gardening gloves to the girls and, after a few minutes of stubbornness, they accepted.)

While this is going on, you can put the Mason jar into a slowly simmering pan of hot water. The water, as you can see, only needs to come up the sides of the jar a few inches.

(These days I have a specific pan that I use for melting wax, complete with a strainer that holds the jar up off the bottom, but I have successfully done this in a regular pan. Just make sure to keep the water at a bare simmer.)

Lay out the egg cartons full of pine needles on an old pan. (I used the one I destroyed doing this.)


And, using the kind of pot holders that slip on over your hand, CAREFULLY pour the wax into the egg cartons. (They will weep a bit, which is why you've got them on the sheet.)


Once they are completely cooled, you can cut them apart and store them. We keep some of them in a lidded crock near the kindling and the rest with our camping gear.

To use, you just light one of the bits of cardboard or pine needle and build your fire on top of it.


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Laura said...

Love that!! As a Girl Scout, we made firestarters all the time, but they were candle shavings and wax paper. How brilliant to use candle bits-and-pieces and egg cartons! Do the pine needles smell good in the fire? Very cool -- I just might have to salvage a branch off our Christmas tree before it gets picked up!

(And I am, starting right now, saving my candle ends in a Mason jar.)

melissa said...

very cool!

i have a friend who makes fire starters out of old wax and the lint from the dryer - but leftover christmas tree is even cooler!
does it smell piney when you light them?

Wendy said...

Yep, you guys are right. They do have a nice smell when they burn. And I've joked about collecting the orange peels from Christmas morning that we always find dried under the couch weeks later and putting those at the bottom of the cup for added scent. But the kids did a pretty good job of cleaning up after themselves this year.

FinnyKnits said...

So THIS is what you can do with an old Christmas tree!

I guess you'll find me raiding the trees people have thrown into the street now.

Pretty cool, Wendy.

TheOrganicSister said...

Very cool! I'll have to remember this one!

Anonymous said...

Since my one son is bothered by lighted candles, I use one of those plug-ins that melts the wax--it give off the scent nicely. Once the scent wears away, I use the melted wax, my perpetual collection of dryer lint, and a dedicated cupcake tin to make fire starters like yours. I would love to have a piney scent, though. Since I use a fake tree, however, I guess I will do as another reader mentioned and pick needles off the trees in the neighborhood waiting for recycling. Thanks for stirring up the creative flow.

6512 and growing said...

You are very clever. This has all the elements of a fun project for my kids, with the end result being: fire! which means: marshmallows! which is what campfires are all about 'round here.
Plus, yes, that tree is still here.

Fun Mama - Deanna said...

What a great idea! I don't know that I would want melted wax in my fire pit (it's metal) but this would be nice in a dirt lined pit in my yard or camping. Thanks.

Wendy said...

Deanna, you know, it doesn't actually leave any wax residue. It all burns right up with the fire. (At least I haven't noticed anything but ash after the fires.)

Unknown said...

Great idea the recycled x-mas tree. We use a similar recipe substituting dryer lint for the pine. We save a bag as we clean the lint trap and make a batch each year for our camping trips. The campgrounds hate me for it but I usually have enough to sell when we go out. I have even set the boys up with a lemonade stand kinda thing with them. Make a few bucks on top of save a few bucks. WIN! WIN!

Wendy said...

Kyle, great idea to sell them at the campgrounds!

And since doing this project, I've heard a lot of people mention using dryer lint. Doesn't lint have hair in it, and wouldn't that smell horrible? I'm guessing not, because bunches of people seem to use it. I'll have to start another Mason jar collection. ;)

Anonymous said...

What a great idea! Our Christmas tree is laying on the side of our house, waiting for a trip to the recycling center. I think I'll snag some little branches off so I can make some of these for our next camping trip.


Unknown said...

As a girl scout, we used dryer lint instead of the tree needles. I'm sure we all have plenty of this--and no rooting around in neighbors' trees!

Vegetable Garden Cook said...

Thanks for the tutorial! I did this as a girl in Campfire but forgot what exactly we used.

I linked to your post on my website, I hope you don't mind!


Anonymous said...

Great idea - but it would be even more economic to just dip a small twig in the wax instead of pouring it. Such a twig won't burn as long as your egg carton version, I suppose, but most of the time it's long enough. Maybe one could make both kinds. Sometimes I have wet wood that just don't want to catch fire, and in those cases I always wish I have a long-burning firestarter handy.

- Mira

Gold Party said...

So great! I can just imagine the lovely smell that must waft through the house in winter when you use these.