Fire starters from the trash!

Posted: April 12, 2011 by hopejoyandfaithfarm in MacGyverism, preparedness

Why talk about fire starters now that the wood stove season is about over you ask?

We recently had a tsunami scare here, after the horrendous events in Japan.  I finally went to work seriously on our “bug-out” bags (1 for each car and a bigger backpack to take from home if we needed to head up the hill from our place in case of a disaster).  As I packed the matches, I got to thinking about how I would manage to start a fire.

I don’t know if I am the only one, but I am about the worst fire starter ever.  I can build a fire great, but starting it is a different matter.  I crumple up the paper just right, carefully stack the kindling so that air flows around it, and have the dry wood placed just right.  I start it, the paper burns nicely, giving me hope, then the firebox in the wood stove goes dark.  Same with a camp fire, it looks like it’s gonna go, and it dies… I huff and I puff on the little embers, to no avail.  I can’t tell you how many matches I go through, but it’s frustrating.  I end up waiting til husband gets home to “show me how” yet again.  Stressful? You bet!  I remembered a couple years ago my mom made some fire starters from dryer lint and cardboard egg cartons.  I decided to make some of my own for the bags.

I have not yet figured out the correct steps for loading pictures onto a wordpress blog, so check out the steps I took at Flickr

Normally I would throw dryer lint away, but I started saving it.  I did see on website later on that there is some concern about the new materials clothes are made out of and concerns with the chemicals, but we don’t have many new clothes here at the house, so I’m not too worried about that.

I got a cardboard egg carton (don’t use Styrofoam-the smell and chemicals put into the air would not be good) and tucked the lint by little handfuls into the individual egg “sections”.

Then, I found some old candles that had “burning” issues (you know those ones where the wick won’t stay lit, but you keep it anyway just in case, or the taper candle that is bent or broken).  I have a big box of candles saved up for power outages and emergencies, but I couldn’t bear to use those.  I am going to keep my eyes open at yard sales and thrift stores because a lot of times they’ll be in a free box.

Then, I took a tin can, peeled the label off and bent it slightly to make it easier to pour the melted wax. I placed the can in a pan of water (think cheap double boiler) and ON LOW, slowly heated the wax up.  When the wax was melted, I poured the wax into each egg “space” on top of the lint and let it harden.

I ripped (and used a knife to keep from ripping too much) the individual starters apart when the wax had hardened and packaged them in ziplock bags to put into each “bug-out” bag.

I figured I’d better use one before I told all you “trashy” readers about them, so I experimented.  I used two of them, with one small piece of newspaper, nestling them in between a couple of bigger pieces of wood with some kindling on top.  Wow! They worked great.  The kindling started without a problem, catching the bigger wood easily.

Because we are coming up on dryer weather (fingers crossed) and our laundry will be hung outside on the line to dry, I won’t have a lot of lint available.  I was walking across the orchard to lock up the chickens the other night, I noticed a lot of small pine cones on the ground.  I picked them up, along with some moss and lichen, and some dried pieces of pampas grass leaves.  I tucked the cones into egg cartons, with a little moss to hold them.  I also wrapped some of the pampas grass leaves around the lichen and some of the cones, and put them in the cartons.  I poured the wax over them, following the above, ripping them apart when hardened.

These worked great, I used two of them with NO newspaper… The fire took off perfectly.  I was so excited! And it’s all trash and yard waste… Yah Hoo!

  1. emphelan says:

    Cool. This might be something to teach my oldest boy to do.

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