by Texas Homesteader ~
We have a cast iron wood-burning fireplace that we rely on to keep us toasty warm in the cold winter months.
To make starting that fire super-fast, I’ve been making fire starters using repurposed cardboard egg cartons, used candle wax and cotton-based dryer lint. So easy!
(Note: Some links in this post will take you to other related articles for further information. But links preceded with * are affiliate links. If you click and buy something I could receive a tiny commission.)
Repurposing Is Eco Friendly
Y’all know RancherMan & I like to use resources found right here at our Homestead whenever possible.
In the growing season I use dried grass clippings for moisture-saving mulch in our veggie garden.
And we Collect Rainwater for all outside irrigation.
Oh, 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 included a handy-dandy gas log lighter. It sure made starting a fire an easy endeavor.
But now that we live on the Homestead we have a beautiful freestanding antique Franklin-style cast iron fireplace.
I absolutely love it. But how to get that fire started without that propane assistance?
Must we utilize those wilderness tactics of using flint sparks & dead leaves that RancherMan learned in the Boy Scouts? Hummm…
Yes there’s an easier way. And man-oh-man are you gonna love this!
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 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 for me in making these is that one of the main materials is dryer lint. 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 his wet cotton denim-fabric jeans 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!
Cleaning Out The Dryer’s Lint Trap
But when cleaning out the dryer’s lint trap I was reminded why I hate to use the dryer. All that lint pulled from the lint trap is actually our 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. (Spoiler Alert: It DID!)
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.
Safely 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 candle wax from candles that no longer burn)
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.
Careful – Melted Wax Can Be Dangerous!
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 *hot 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 slow-n-steady 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!)
Anyway, the wax did indeed slightly 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 also 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. The next morning I broke apart each of the cups.
The cooled wax that was pooled beneath each of the cups was chipped away and stored 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.
Using Homemade Fire Starters
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 fire starter.
It started easily and the flames reached up through the other 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.
Using Denim Scraps For Fire Starters
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 old jeans for a cute denim decorative touch when giving gifts of home-canned goods. So I’ve always got small scraps of denim left.
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!
Use Whatcha Got, y’all!
Links Mentioned In This Post
- 3 Rainwater Collection Systems We Use On The Homestead
- Winter Maintenance: Chimney Cleaning
- *Free Clothes Drying w/folding clothes-drying racks
- *Silicone Hot Jar Gripper
- Repurposed Denim No-Sew Pocket Coasters
- Denim Gift Bags Made With Repurposed Denim
Other ‘Use Whatcha Got’ Ideas
- Make A Cute Porch Lantern
- Assuring Safety Around An Underground Cistern
- Repurposing An Empty Parmesan Cheese Container – BRILLIANT!
- MYO Simple Craft Paintbrush In A Pinch
- Replacing Our Bedside Clock/Radio
- Predator Guard For Our Martin House
- Trick Birds Away From Garden Strawberries
- Protecting Tender Seedlings
- Safer Straight-Pin Storage
- Tame Electrical Cords
- Save Your Fingernails When Cleaning
- MYO Chalkboard Labels
- Keeping Boots Stored Neatly
- How Leaves Greatly Benefit Your Garden
- Pretty Wax-Dipped Pinecone Fire Starters
- Finding Free Storage Lids For Canning Jars
C’mon by & sit a spell! Come hang out at our Facebook Page . It’s like sitting in a front porch rocker with a glass of cold iced tea. There are lots of good folks sharing! And you can also follow along on Pinterest, Twitter or Instagram
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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.
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.
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…
I’m just jealous that your egg cartons are actually cardboard! We’ve got a styrofoam of sorts here.
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!
Awesome! We make similar ones with dryer lint & sawdust when we go camping, they work great! Thanks for sharing on Homestead Blog Hop!
I really like your re-purpose ~TxH~.
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
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!
This sounds like the kind of thing that my husband would really appreciate me making. Thanks for sharing
my dad used a similar idea but he used waste cooking fat instead of wax
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.
I wish I would have known about these a few years ago. I was buying fire starters and they were so expensive!
Good idea… we have made similar ones for camping. 🙂
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
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.
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.
Definitely a hit when the man asks for more! LOL
There are so-o many uses for old jeans. Hope it works for you.
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.
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!
Quite a neat experiment, glad it worked out so well for you.
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!
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.
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
Paper shreds from an electric document shredder will substitute well for the dryer lint.