Monday, July 9, 2012

DIY Fire Starters

Fire-starters are used to make camp fires, very popular in wet or damp conditions as they will burn readily and for long enough to get the fire going.  I wanted an alternative to storing lighter fluid in case I need to do camp fire cooking if my power goes out in a hurricane.
I've read about and watched a couple of YouTube videos about making fire-starters.  There are several methods involving paper egg cartons or TP and paper towel cores.  I decided to make mine with the cores as I can get an abundance of them from work.
The videos I have seen show using a whole tp core but there seems to be an issue with the melted wax getting all the way through and it looked like no fun to slice through them when you were done.  Therefore I pre-cut my cores into 1/2 ~ 3/4 inch slices first.  I flattened the core, cut it with scissors and and then squeezed it enough to round it back out.  I had 3 paper towel and 5 toilet paper cores. 
Next I sliced up the paraffin, I used 2 boxes as I didn't have any candle ends, but you can use either or both together, even broken crayons.  Paraffin cuts very easily with a knife if you do it in 1/2" sections.
The wax was melted in a large veggie can I saved, and I pinched one side to make a pour spout.  Make a double boiler by heating water in a saucepan on low-med low and put the wax can inside.  Paraffin melts at a low temp so it doesn't take long.  I lined an old cookie sheet with wax paper and set it beside the pot.
Then the core rings were half dipped in the wax and laid on the cookie sheet, pressed down a moment to stick.
Time to stuff them while more wax melted.  You can use nearly anything that will burn.  I had some cotton pads that I didn't like as they fell apart every time I got them wet with peroxide, polish remover, etc.  So I tore them apart and used them as the bottom.  
Next (on the left side of the photo) I used the scraps from my needlework ort jar, ends of threads and yarns, some I cut smaller to tuck in.  I poured wax on them and then topped them off with dryer lint and poured more wax (seen on the right).  Then left them to cool and harden.
Some of the bottom pieces of cotton did not get saturated with wax, the same thing happened in a video of a guy that tried it with cotton balls stuffed in whole and half tp cores.  I think they are not as absorbent.  The orts and the lint worked the best.
The wax paper worked wonderful as they peeled right up and I was able to snap off the wax that leaked through to save for the next batch later.
That's about a third of a can which is a perfect amount to melt as it is easier to pour without it going everywhere.
I got 52 fire-starters with left over wax and some left over core rings.  I stored them in a box with wax paper between the layers as they are going in a spot that may get over 100 degrees this summer so if they melt a bit it will be easy to pop them out.  I roll my extra candles in wax paper before packing in a box for the same reason.
Other notes on this experiment: 
don't worry if the wax runs out the bottoms
the temp is low enough that you can pick up the can without burning yourself
wipe the can with a paper towel to limit the amount of wax you might have to clean out of your saucepan
pour the wax in stages with time to let it set up between or it will all run out the bottom
I let my starters sit overnight before breaking them apart and storing

Linking up at Barn Hop #69

1 comment:

Jocelyn said...

Dryer lint works beautifully for this. We love firestarters around here. Can't go wrong with 'em!

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