Handmade Christmas Gifts: Fire Starters

I made these last year and they were a success. It is frustrating shelling out big bucks for commercial starters or fat wood just to start our daily fires... so I use recycled household ingredients to make these. there are a number of different methods online. I found one on YouTube that seemed pretty straightforward and used what I had. So, I gathered the following items and commenced...

1. Empty cardboard toilet paper tubes
2. Dryer lint (I collect this every time I do laundry and store it in the basement in a box... but NOT near the dryer as it is highly flammable.) Hint: Only natural fibers create lint. If you are trying to make a bunch of lint in a hurry (last minute Christmas gifts...lol), don't expect it in your synthetics load. When the kids were playing club ball, their uniform loads made zero lint. Underwear, socks, t-shirts, and towels are rockin' lint makers.
3. Old wax candles. Candle stick stubs. Pillar stubs. Jar candles (I break the jars and save the wax). I solicit old candle donations from family members who use them regularly (I do not since I'm married to a fireman).

Additional supplies needed:

1. Large coffee can in which to melt wax via double boiler method.
2. Large pot to use as base of double boiler.
2. Metal ladle set aside for the specific purpose of pouring wax.
3. Aluminum trays in which to set the cardboard tubes while I'm filling (I constantly spill).
4. Fire extinguisher close by since we're making fire starters.
5. Misc. items that you discern makes the job easier and safer in your specific location of choice.

It is not a particularly quick project and there is a slight learning curve. I have found that stuffing a tube halfway and filling with wax, waiting until slightly congealed, then filling the other half is a good method for getting a solid fill. A tube that is very stuffed and very saturated will burn longer than one that is lightly packed.

I wait until the tubes are cool but NOT cold before cutting. They are almost impossible to cut through when all the way cold. The good news is that they take a long time to get that firm. I then cut the tubes in 4 equal parts so that I have nice heavy little disks, ready for use.

These little guys burn for a long time. I used to know exactly how long but can't seem to recall now. I believe mine burn somewhere from 15 to 20 minutes.... a larger chunk will burn longer.

For giving...

Last year, I packaged them neatly in bakery boxes. I thought it was cute but it's not a great long-term storage solution. This year, I recycled a pretty tin from the ginger cookies at Trader Joe's. The tin is nice enough to keep out when company comes... but still should be kept reasonably far from the fireplace or wood stove since they are flammable. 

The pictures I took (above) made me laugh because they make the starters look like little sausages! They do always end up looking a little pink because the red candles always seem to outnumber all other colors.

This is a nice video showing an easier method using paper egg cartons. Just fill and cut. I had more toilet paper tubes than cardboard egg cartons... so that's how I made my decision. Lots and lots of great YouTube videos with many different methods. Enjoy!

Posted on December 20, 2012 and filed under "fire starters".