MYO FireStarters With Items You Already Have

by Tammy Taylor

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Y’all know RancherMan & I like to use resources found right here at our ranch whenever possible.  I use grass clippings for moisture-saving mulch in our veggie garden & collect rainwater for all outside irrigation.  And we use wood cut from downed limbs in our fireplace to warm our home.  There’s nothing quite like staying toasty-warm in the blustery winter months with the help of a roaring fire.  (remember: Fire Safety First – read my recent post about the importance of regular chimney cleaning)

When we lived in the city we had a built-in fireplace that had a handy-dandy gas log lighter.  It sure made starting a fire an easy endeavor.  But now that we live on the ranch we have a beautiful freestanding antique Franklin-style cast iron fireplace.  I absolutely love it but back in the day they didn’t include gas-fed log lighters on many of their showroom models.  How oh how to get that fire started without utilizing those wilderness tactics of using flint sparks & dead leaves that RancherMan learned in the Boy Scouts…  Yes there’s an easier way.  And man oh man are you gonna love this!

Check out these easy FIRE STARTERS I made in just a few minutes using dryer lint & melted wax. I show everything step by step. #TexasHomesteader

I’ve seen these homemade fire starters before, it’s not a new concept.  But we’ve never really needed them so I’ve never made them before.  Then at a recent family outing my SIL brought out a couple of these she had made for starting their campfire.  It made me wonder if I should try to make these for use in our fireplace.

Raw Materials Already Here

Because I had intended this year to sell some of the excess eggs from our freerange chickens  I had family members saving their egg cartons for me throughout the year.  Although I never got to use them for selling eggs, my attention is now turned to those cartons in my stash that are made of cardboard.  Let’s just see how easy this is to do…

Drier Lint – Only Cotton Fabrics

Now one problem in making these is that one of the main materials is dryer lint, and although we have a higher-end clothes dryer we don’t use it often.   But as much as I love hanging our clothes outside, during ragweed season I’m forced to dry clothes inside.   Typically I’ll use my * folding clothes-drying racks when drying our clothes inside.  But recently RancherMan was catching up on the laundry and decided to throw the wet clothes into the dryer because, well, that’s what it’s FOR.  I’m certainly not going to complain because hey, he’s doing the laundry, amiright??

So whatever way is most comfortable for him to complete the task was just fine with me!  But when cleaning out the dryer’s lint trap I was reminded why I hate to use the dryer.  All this lint that you pull from your lint trap is actually your clothing being beat up and broken down by the dryer.  But wait a minute, at least maybe I can use this material for my fire starters.  I’ve read that when making fire starters from dryer lint you need to make sure the content is natural fiber since some synthetic fabric fibers don’t burn well.  This lint is from 100% cotton denim jeans – let’s DO THIS!

I took the dryer lint and tore it into little squares, tucking a square inside each of the egg cups on the carton.  I put my egg carton on a piece of newspaper in case the hot melted wax oozed out of the cardboard.  Finally I placed the whole shebangie on an old cookie sheet that I use for various tasks other than cooking, then I got busy with the nitty gritty part.

Check out these easy FIRE STARTERS I made in just a few minutes using dryer lint & melted wax. I show everything step by step. #TexasHomesteader

Melting The Wax

I took the largest tin can I could find and with a pair of pliers fashioned a small pour spout to make pouring the hot melted wax a little easier.  Now for the wax.  Hummm… several years ago I acquired a bulk amount of wax & I always wondered what in the world I was going to do with it.  But now I have my answer.  (some people just use old used candle wax)

I chipped up some of that wax and placed it inside the can, placed the can in a pan of water and turned on the stove burner.  As the water slowly heated up, the wax melted beautifully.

Check out these easy FIRE STARTERS I made in just a few minutes using dryer lint & melted wax. I show everything step by step. #TexasHomesteader

Careful – Melted Wax!

Now comes the scary part – dealing with a hot can filled with hot melted wax and trying to transfer said wax from tin can to little egg cups.  I wanted to make sure I had a steady hand and was as protected as I could be from the hot metal.

I used my *canning jar gripper which was just about the right size to hold this hot can.  And I also used a pair of pliers firmly held to the can to help me pour slowly and steadily.  This was a pretty nerve-wracking step for me, hot wax can burn badly.  But by going slowly and staying careful and focused I was able to easily pour this hot melted wax into each of the egg cups.  (please, please please be careful if you try this – no kids, pets or distractions in the kitchen until after the hot stuff is done!)

Check out these easy FIRE STARTERS I made in just a few minutes using dryer lint & melted wax. I show everything step by step. #TexasHomesteader

Anyway, the wax did indeed melt through the cardboard and onto the newspaper beneath it so it was a good thing I took that preemptive step.  And although in my case the wax didn’t run off the paper, it could have.  So it’s also a good thing I had everything confined in that old baking sheet.  You might keep those issues in mind if you decide to give it a try.

Homemade FireStarters. DONE!

Now only the easy part remained.  I simply allowed it to all cool and harden overnight and in the morning I broke apart each of the cups.  The cooled wax that was pooled beneath each of the cups was chipped away and placed in a storage tote for the next batch.  I placed all these completed fire starters in a chunky metal pitcher we keep near the fireplace and waited for the opportunity for a test run.

Check out these easy FIRE STARTERS I made in just a few minutes using dryer lint & melted wax. I show everything step by step. #TexasHomesteader

Using The Firestarters

Well of course it got cold soon thereafter.  So RancherMan thought we’d give ‘er a try.  He placed one of the cups directly onto one of the logs in the fireplace to fully utilize the ignition power of these little gems and then he lit the firestarter.  It started easily and the flames reached up  through the logs and started our fire without any other assistance from us.  RancherMan’s words to me were “Wow, that was easy.  Can you make me a bunch of these??”  I’d say that was successful!

So…. now that RancherMan wants me to make more of these beauties I’ll need to ponder raw materials.   Since we won’t be using our dryer again any time soon, I think for the next batch I’ll use the scraps cut from RancherMan’s torn jeans to line those egg cups.  I’m forever making things out of his old worn jeans like my favorite no-sew pocket coasters or rustic denim gift bags.  I also cut circles out of them for a cute denim decorative touch when giving gifts of home-canned goods. So I’ve always got small scraps of denim left.  I’ll be sure to let ya know how that works.  Remember what I always say: “Use whatcha GOT!”

Again please remember that I’m sharing a procedure that we’ve tried that works well at our home.  This project worked beautifully for us but there are lots of variables.  Remember you’re handling hot melted wax when you’re making these fire starters.  And of course starting a fire in your fireplace should always be done with the utmost fire safety in mind.

So if you decide to give it a try you’ll be doing so at your own risk.  Please do your research & make sure it’s the best thing for your house too.  But I’ll for sure be making another batch of these fire starters soon!

~TxH~

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62 thoughts on “MYO FireStarters With Items You Already Have

  1. Brenda

    I replied, but doesn’t look like it got thru, Tammy. I built a solar wax melter, just lay the towers in there to catch the slum gum. But I did a little more research; bear with me, it addresses cleaning your wax, but does get back to used paper towels for fire starter…. So here’s what I found out: I think you could use paint strainer bags to filter wax. (I use them to strain my honey, juice for jelly, and a whole lot more.) Around 3 or 4 bucks at Home Depot for 3, elastic at top, and fit a 5 gal bucket. Here’s my reasoning: Water boils at 212 deg, depending on altitude. Wax melts at 144 deg Nylon melts at around 450 deg. A lot of home brewers use these to boil the hops into wort to make beer. Now, as to the waxy paper towel, you’d still have this, if you used it to wipe out your wax pot after cleaning wax, or after making those beeswax bowl covers you so graciously gave us instructions for! Hope this helps! (Seems to me it would be less messy than paper towel.

    Reply
    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      I see your comment come as an email reply instead of being posted here Brenda, so thanks for going through the trouble of reposting here so all could see. I have a solar oven so I’ve got RancherMan’s gears spinning on how to make me a strainer frame, etc. to be able to use the solar oven better to melt our beeswax. In the past I’ve melted the wax in water, poured through cheesecloth and let the wax float & cool, then removing the hardened wax layer from the water. But as I said, I’ve been displeased at the amount of hive trash still able to go through the cheesecloth as well as how much wax the cheesecloth captures. Thank you for the thoughts you’ve put into your comment, you’ve really given me something to think about. (MUAH!) ~TMH~

      Reply
  2. Brenda

    Great idea! I also save the paper towels I render my beeswax thru-I hate to waste any of that wax! You’ve got a good idea about the denim, it’s molders for a long time. The. Rare times I use my bee smoker, I fuel it with denim seams and a piece of was coated paper towel. Burns for a long time.

    Reply
    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Not sure what happened to my other comment Brenda, but I’ll try again. I typically render my beeswax through several thicknesses of used cheesecloth, but I’ve been disappointed at the amount of wax wasted as well as the hive fodder that gets through the cheesecloth into my wax. I’d like to try using a paper towel instead but I’m curious – what do you use to hold it steady as you pour through the wax? I’d totally use a wax-coated paper towel as firestarters! ~TMH~

      Reply
  3. Pili

    Can you believe I was thinking some weeks about making my own fire starters? In our new house we have a fireplace and we love to be all together around it, now I need to find a cheap dryer for the lints. I remember I hate cleaning them at our old apartment… If I had only knew…

    Reply
    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      We don’t often use our drier Pili, so the filling is often changed based on what I have available other than drier lint. For instance I’ve used tiny scraps of denim from repurposing crafting using RancherMan’s old worn jeans, or even small pieces of wadded up paper. It all worked great, although the paper does tend to burn faster than the denim. ~TMH~

      Reply
  4. Katy SkipTheBag

    I’m just jealous that your egg cartons are actually cardboard! We’ve got a styrofoam of sorts here. Thanks for sharing on the Waste Less Wednesday Hop!

    Reply
    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Oh I hear ya Katy. Those egg cartons were saved for me by our daughter who lives in the big city. Around here they’re almost always styrofoam – DANG I hate that stuff!! ~TMH~

      Reply
  5. Grandmas House DIY

    We heat with wood and this makes me wish we had a dryer that produces dryer lint, these would be fantastic for us! We have a washer/dryer combo so… no lint for us, but maybe I can come up with something else I could use. Thank you for sharing with us at the To Grandma’s house we go link party, you will be featured tomorrow morning when the new party starts on Wednesday!

    Reply
    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      I’ve never heard of a dryer that doesn’t produce lint. Interesting… I’ll have to Google that! After I made the first batch with the lint we had I went looking for something else to use since we hardly ever use our dryer. I’ve successfully used tiny scraps of denim from repurposing crafts using RancherMan’s worn jeans, and even small bits of crumpled paper that was destined for the composter. It all worked great! ~TMH~

      Reply
  6. Liz

    Awesome! We make similar ones with dryer lint & sawdust when we go camping, they work great! Thanks for sharing on Homestead Blog Hop!

    Reply
    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      They’re handy for sure Liz. My dad also decided to give it a go with his wood-burning stove and he loves ’em too. ~TMH~

      Reply
  7. Greg Hill

    I really like your re-purpose ~TMR~. I ask my wife to save the dryer lint in in a empty paper towel tube , long before you posted this post. ( Which is a good post . ) She gave me a funny look and said ” What ? ” And I have been saving empty egg cartons for a year. for another project I want to do . But Now that you have posted this I’m going to use some of that lint and some old candles and WA LA fire starters. Thanks for the Idea, and Please post this on my Discover Repurposing site… at https://plus.google.com/u/0/communities/111729060533023573317 Thanks

    Reply
    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Give it a try Greg. Starting our fire has never been easier! I still have plenty of that bulk wax to make them this year but when I run out I’ll be using spent candles for them. Thanks for the repurposing board invite! ~TMH~

      Reply
  8. Heidi Villegas

    I love homemade fire starters! I actually do use the lint from the dryer, but I put mine inside paper towel rolls. I haven’t tried wax, and that’s a great idea! I just use some type of oil. I keep them stored in a bag. I’m going to give the wax a try! I save all my extra candle wax! Great tip!

    Reply
    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      If you have leftover wax from scented candles these firestarters also offer a subtle scent when you use them. Give it a try Heidi! ~TMH~

      Reply
    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      OMGosh Jessica, I kid you not – RancherMan keeps reminding me that I’m NOT allowed to let him run out of these. Ever. They really do make short work of starting the fire in our fireplace.

      Reply
  9. Simple Nature Decor

    Fabulous tips for starting a fire in your fireplace or firepit thanks fro sharing this at my last Fabulous Friday Stop by this Friday Thanks Maria

    Reply
    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Interesting Kate, hadn’t thought of waste cooking fat – when I run out of excess wax I may give that a try. ~TMR~

      Reply
  10. Shirley Wood

    We are so glad you shared with us at Merry Monday! I’m looking forward to your newest additions to the party next week!

    Reply
  11. Cynthia L.

    I wish I would have known about these a few years ago. I was buying fire starters and they were so expensive! Thanks for linking to the This is How We Roll Link Party. See you on Thursday!

    Reply
  12. Sarah R.

    I love making my own firestarters!! We always keep a stash on hand. 🙂 Appreciate you linking this up at Snickerdoodle Sunday!! Sarah (Sadie Seasongoods)

    Reply
    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      My SIL was using one to start a campfire and although I’d heard of them for years, I’d never made them myself. Her pulling one out for that campfire is what made me wonder if these might work for our purposes too. The answer is YES! ~TMR~

      Reply
  13. Margy

    I would worry about the wax in a woodstove melting onto the bricks. I use crumpled newspaper and cardboard I cut up with a little dry driftwood to start my fires. I warm the flue with a twisted sheet of newspaper then light the paper and kindling. That works well unless a light breeze is blowing and rotating chimney cap hasn’t turned yet to help with the draw. – Margy

    Reply
  14. Lisa from Iroquois

    I have been experimenting with toilet paper rolls: stuff with dryer lint, drizzle melted wax into the tube , add a little more dryer lint at each end, and then just before I use them I roll each on into a single sheet of newspaper. I use two underneath the kindling and build up from there. Don’t use the dryer much but love having this use for the lint.

    Reply
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  16. Angi @ SchneiderPeeps

    Great idea, wish we had a fireplace. Thanks for sharing with us at Simple Lives Thursday; hope to see you again this week.

    Reply
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  20. Terri Presser

    This looks like a great idea, we don’t have a dryer though so would have to use other means instead. Thanks for sharing at Good Morning Mondays. Blessings

    Reply
    1. Terri Presser

      Hey thanks for linking this post up at Good Morning Mondays. We are in Autumn here and we have been cleaning the wood stove and chimney in readiness to light it. We normally use a bit of diesel to start out fires but I might give these a go. I wonder if you could so some way on a pine cone instead or a broken up one in the egg cartons. Might give this a go. Thanks again and blessings.

      Reply
  21. Natasha in Oz

    Great idea! Thanks for sharing it at the Say G’Day linky party. I’ve just pinned your post! Stay warm! Best wishes, Natasha in Oz

    Reply
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    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      LOL Jayne – I didn’t make the rug, it was once my grandmother’s rug & who knows how long she’d had it! ~TMR~

      Reply
  23. Jayne

    We hardly ever use firestarters but when we we just use Vaseline on a cotton ball or old piece of rag. Really simple and works every time. Love the pocket coasters – I will trying them out.

    Reply
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  25. Rosie

    I love making our own firestarters. Since many of our egg cartons at the stores are styrofoam, I usually resort to using empty toilet paper rolls. (fyi: it is easier to cut them down to smaller sizes before filling them.) I’ll have to try melting wax in a pot of hot water next time I have large pieces. Right now I’m going through old candles (in jars), so am using the candle warmer to melt the wax.

    Reply
    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Cut-down & fill empty toilet paper rolls? That’s brilliant Rosie, I’d have never thought of that. Thanks for sharing. ~TMR~

      Reply
  26. Texas Homesteader Post author

    When I run out of this bulk wax I’ll be using old spent candles. It’s easy to find big used 3-wick candles in the “free” pile at garage sales, I may start picking those up when I find them & stashing them for this winter project. ~TMR~

    Reply
  27. Lauryn

    Love this! We just started using our fire place for the season and have already used up our fire starters. I think I need to make a batch of these this weekend. Now to find out where to acquire some wax. 😉 Thanks for linking up to Motivation Monday!

    Reply
    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      I’ll be making more of these soon Terry, it’s been so cold here we’ve been starting a fire every day. RancherMan is HOOKED on these things! ~TMR~

      Reply
  28. Laurie S.

    I’ve seen them made with sawdust and wax. You could try that and let us know!! Thanks for all your great posts. I love checking your site. Stay warm!

    Reply
    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      I remember seeing those too Laurie. I’d love to get a supply of sawdust & give that a try. RancherMan & I will be cutting wood this week, maybe I can capture some of the sawdust & give it a try. Thanks for the idea. ~TMR~

      Reply
      1. charlene

        My son put a tarp down under the logs he was cutting and collected so much sawdust I mulched my 20×48 garden with it. I call it GoAway SiltySoil. Only 49.99 a bag. he.

        Reply
        1. Texas Homesteader Post author

          OMGoodness how clever Charlene. I’d love to have copious amounts of sawdust, & I love your name for your handy-dandy mulch! ~TMH~

          Reply
  29. Dianna

    If one were to be doing a lot of these, or doing it often, maybe an old, metal, stovetop coffee pot would make handling and pouring. Thrift store? I just happen to have a couple and will be trying these firestarters for gifts. Thank you for the tutorial

    Reply
    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Oh that’s a great idea Dianna. I tried putting my pan of water holding the tin can of wax on the fireplace and although the water got hot, it just didn’t get hot enough to melt the wax. I love thrift stores so I’ll be on the lookout for this! ~TMR~

      Reply
    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      That’s a good idea Beverly. We don’t have a paper shredder (my stuff goes into my composter) but I know many people who do. I’ll give this a try. ~TMR~

      Reply

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