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.
1/2016 Update: We've continued to make these fire starters, sometimes adding dryer lint to the mix. We had run out of them this fall and Jamey saw some on sale at the store and bought a box thinking they'd save him a little time. I dislike the bought ones SO MUCH but we're going to use them until they run out. They just don't catch as well as the homemade version and therefore take a little while to get going. Fooey with bought starters. We're fully sold on our homemade version:-).
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!Pin It