Friday, February 25, 2011

Frugal Fire Starters

We'll be running our wood stove into late April and having enough fire startes is important. Having a sustainable and frugal source is even more appealing. And with all the items needed on hand, I decided to give it a try.

Frugal Fire Starter Tutorial

Items needed include:

dryer lint (from natural fibers only, like cotton)
a cardboard egg carton
left over wax from a candle (preferably a soy candle!)


I started saving dryer lint in a plastic container in my laundry room drawer. Since it's right next to the dryer, it was easy to just drop it in there every time I clean the lint screen. If you line dry, I'm sure a neighbor would be willing to contribute their lint in trade for some starters. But be warned. This is a bit like "belly button lint". It's a bit personal and a bit... well, gross. I'm telling you now, before you view any further pictures, that with three girls with long hair, quite a bit ends up in the dryer lint.

Pack each cell of the egg carton with dryer lint. I stuffed as much as I could into each one.

Melt the candle wax in hot water in a pot. Keep in mind that many candles have a piece of metal at the bottom of the wick, so don't stick it in the microwave.

Pour the wax over the lint filled cells. Some people like to really soak their lint in wax, but because I have a wood stove, I don't really want to use any more than necessary (more on this at the end of the post). 

I used two different candles that were at the end of their life, so the red is from the second candle. Just get enough to coat the top a bit. Pop it in the freezer to harden the wax quickly. 

Finally, cut apart the cells, leaving the "wings" on for lighting.  To use, just light the edge and place it in the fireplace or wood stove. Store extras in a safe location because wax is flammable. 

Now, back to that comment about using these in a wood stove or a fireplace insert. Many recommend that you not use these in wood stoves because of the off gases they will produce if the wax is a petroleum product  (if you use a non-soy candle), or because they will leave a oily coating in your stove, or because it doesn't burn clean. I tried one in my stove and it seemed to do fine, but mine was mostly soy wax. If I notice a problem after using these for a while, I'll certainly update this post. But I used so little wax, I can't imagine that it would be that big of an issue. (If you have a catalytic type stove DO NOT burn any petroleum products in it.)

So, did I mention that these burn great? I thought it would be engulfed in flames and gone in a minute or two. I should have timed it, but it seemed to burn plenty long and it worked great for me! If anyone else has used them, be sure to leave a comment with your thoughts!


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