Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Homemade Fire Starter

I was going to just show you a picture of these and ask you to guess what they are.  I imagined some of you would guess bird seed/suet and others might have of thought they were some kind of high fiber snack.  But instead of teasing, I decided to just come right out and tell you about these sweet little time savers.



We put in a wood stove (scroll down the link to read all the related posts) last January and love it.  Like crazy.  I like to say that 2012 is the year we got warm.  I love having a toasty living room, comfortable school room and cool bedroom.  I don't even mind tending the fire or the extra dust and mess.  The warmth is worth it.

When it's really cold outside, it's just a matter of adding logs, but on sunny afternoons, the house warms and we let the stove go out at times.  Re-starting the fire takes me some time.  Jamey has a whole system of building a fire.  Me?  I'm not so gifted in the fire-building area.  I know the gist of what I'm supposed to do, but no matter how much my log arrangement looks like his it never takes off and burns as nicely as his.

So, I sit in front of the fire blowing on it and adjusting the air flow, coaxing it to get going.  Thinking of me, Jamey ordered a few fire starter discs to try.  They burn really well on their own, ensuring that the kindling catches and get the whole stove going.


But then he read on hearth.com that you can make your own fire starters.  And he did.  They are awesome!  I just build my fire with a starter underneath, light the starter and close the door.  The starter burns for a good 10 minutes ensuring that the wood lights and I'm done!  Mind you, I do keep an eye on the temperature- over-firing isn't good for anyone.

So, just in case you have a wood stove or know someone who has one (or a fireplace), here's how to make them.  Did I mention they're super, super cheap and take 15 minutes or so to make?


How does it work?  The wax lengthens the burn and it evaporates- think about how candles just disappear when burned over time.

Homemade Fire Starters

paraffin or wax without scent or oils (Jamey found some used candles at a thrift store)
saw dust and/or wood shavings
a double boiler
egg cartons, paper towel or toilet paper rolls, or plastic containers

Melt the wax in a double boiler (the wax will wash off under hot water).  Place saw dust in a plastic container.  When the wax is melted, add some to the saw dust until all the saw dust looks uniformly damp.  It will be very warm.  Blend it well until it starts to clump together.  As the wax hardens, it will help hold the starters together, but if they're too dry, they may crumble. You can also incorporate wood shavings into the mix.  These are chain saw shavings and smell amazing.


Next, press the mixture into your molds before they cool.  Egg cartons work well.  You can pack paper towel or toilet paper rolls and then cut them once cooled (the card board can then be burned with the starter or you can pop them out).  You can also treat them like brownies and pat them into a container and later cut them into squares.

Let them cool completely in their molds, then remove and store somewhere handy.  I think these would make very fun Christmas gifts for friends who build fires.  If only I had had a festive ribbon to tie around my jar...just use your imagination:-).



Stay warm, lovelies! 
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21 comments:

  1. I use to make these often. It is also fun to add essential oil or candle sent to give them a fragrance. We use to make them in a muffin tin. On the top, I would add a dried rosehip or two along with a small twig of evergreen and a tiny pine cone or two, if I were giving them for gifts. They were so pretty. I need to make some of these too. I would have everyone I knew saving old candle stumps for me to melt and make these.

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  2. We make some using toilet paper rolls and the lint from our dryer that we have dripped the wax onto. They are fun to take camping too. Holly:)

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    Replies
    1. I read this some where else and we've been doing that without the wax. Now I know why I should add wax I will!

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  3. This is so neat!

    But why not use crumbled newspaper? We just put in newspaper and kindling, open the bottom door, and whoosh, there it goes.

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    1. Oh, I was using newspaper or cardboard, but Jamey frowns upon opening the ash pan door to get the fire going. These work way better than my newspaper/cardboard methods and I leave the door shut:-).

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  4. We also love fire starters! We make a whole bunch at once, using candle wax that friends save for us and commercial cardboard egg cartons (hold 24 eggs) that the cafeteria at my husband work saves for us. We put the shavings in the cartons, and pour wax directly into the cartons. When cooled, we just tear the cartons apart, and burn the egg cup with the wax and sawdust in it. We also have an old thrift store kettle devoted to the wax melting, so we melt in directly in the pan, over our camping stove in the garage or barn.

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  5. I used to make these too, but I would melt the wax in a tin can, then I didn't need to worry about getting the wax off a pot, as well, if you want to melt wax for other purposes, the can can be squeezed at the top to make a pouring spout.

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  6. You all are so smart- thanks for all the tips!

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  7. that is so clever! My mother is a firebug and always scorned firestarters (but I don't have her gift). Wish we had a stove, but I'm going to pin this with gifts in mind.

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  8. I wandered over from Thrift at Home and this immediately caught my eye. We just this year purchased a home with a woodstove and I think this tip will be a big help for me. I am sure looking forward to toasty warm fires this winter though, I can tell you! Thanks and have a great day!

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  9. What a fabulous idea, I'm going to have to keep this on file.

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  10. Can we use extra crayons in place of wax?

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    1. Hmm. I'm not sure, but I would lean toward no. I know that at least in newer stoves they recommend you don't even burn printed paper with colored dyes, so I'm thinking the dyes in the crayons could cause a problem. That said, I know some people burn all kinds of things in their stoves they "shouldn't". If you want to be a stove-purist, I would try to find only straight wax/paraffin that doesn't contain dyes and perfumes. You want to do your best to keep that chimney free of stuff that accumulates creosote:-).

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  11. I have used the toilet roll and dryer lint for over four years you can light one and it will burn outside in the rain for thirty min love it and it uses stuff I would just throw away

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  12. You are brilliant. I grew up with wood heat & often wood cook-stove. Hopefully by the end of summer we will have wood heat again so we too will be warm come winter. I just cleaned in the shop and hauled off the sawdust:( Will have to hoard it now so I can make these before the snow flies.
    I just found you so now I'm going to browse a little:)
    JoeyLea
    http://www.thelocustblossom.blogspot.com/

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  13. Would like to know where you get the wood shaving? What to do if you do not have access to this? Thanks, love your site.

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    1. My husband has a workshop, so there is always sawdust and wood shavings laying about. I would guess that any furniture shop or woodworker would be happy to give you boxes full if you called and asked:-).

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  14. I found your blog by the top bar bee hive posts you have had. Another fire starter idea I have seen is to use the gunk left when you extract your honey and bees wax. The left over stuff will be old cocoons and some dead bees with a small amount of wax. I is supposed to make a good fire starter if you save it.

    Our bees in our top bar hive didn't make it through the winter so I welted down their combs and made some fire starters, but I have not tried them yet.

    P.S. we caugth a good swarm this spring and have a happy healthy hive going now.

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  15. Howdy, just stumbled on to your lovely web page here.
    Just thought I'd add my two cents to the fire starters.
    If you are getting your saw dust for these from 'else where', then please ensure to double check that the particular workshop you get them from is not using MDF/chipboard or treated pine. As burning these may release harmful gas/smoke.
    Look forward to exploring more wonderful posts and tips in here.
    Thank you and all the Best,

    Sylvain

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  16. Used toilet paper rolls and paper from our shredder work great. Put as much paper as you can stuff into the rolls and drip wax at both ends. Wood shavings work well too! We use them for camping to start fires as well as the wood burning stove.

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