Having reliable DIY fire starters nearby will spare you from many headaches down the road.
It doesn't matter if you're in the great outdoors, your fenced-in backyard, or sitting next to your cozy living room fireplace, a quality DIY fire starter is just nice to have. As a rule of thumb, you should know how to start a fire without one. (You do, don't you?) If not, you should learn soon as it's just ahead of tying knots when it comes to necessary outdoor skills.
But there are situations when you're short on time, or the kindling is a little damp, or you just plain want an easy way out (no judgment here). Or perhaps you don't get outdoors much and don't want to embarrass yourself by committing all kinds of camping blunders.
Worry no more. These DIY fire starters are simple to construct, cheap to make, and will save you time and frustration in the long run. Plus, they make great gifts as well!
First, you'll need to collect some materials. Luckily, nearly every item needed for these DIY fire starters is easily found within or around your home. Odd leftover bits of candle wax, crayon stubs, paraffin wax, shredded paper, toilet paper/paper towel tubes, dryer lint, paper/fiber egg cartons, small paper cups, sawdust, pine cones, and string are some solid choices, but feel free to experiment! You'll need an old coffee can or glass jar to melt the waxes, and do so by placing in a pot of boiling water (double boiler system).
Simply gather up as many open pine cones in your yard as you can and allow them to dry well. Tie a string around the middle and thread it up to the top. Melt paraffin wax with some chunks of old crayons or candles (for color) and dip the pine cone into the hot wax. Allow to dry on wax paper. When ready, simply light the string like a wick, and watch the pine cone go!
If you do any woodwork or cut your own firewood, you'll likely have large amounts of sawdust, shavings, or chips laying around. Gather some up and let it dry out well. Fill some paper cups (or muffin cups in a muffin tin) with the shavings almost to the top. Pour the wax over the mixture and let harden.
You can follow the same recipe as the wood chip fire starter above. Just gather up some shredded paper (most homes and offices have plenty of this available) and fill the muffin cups as before. Pour wax over it and let harden. Then light the shreds of paper or the muffin cup itself to start it.
If you're not saving the lint from your dryer lint trap, you're missing out on a huge resource for DIY fire starters! Stuff lint into the cups of a fiber egg carton. From here, there are several variations. You can add a dollop of petroleum jelly and cover with more lint. You can fill the cups with hot wax much like the shredded paper cups above. Or you can cut each cup apart, fold them on themselves, and then dip the whole package in the hot wax to seal it.
Toilet Paper Tube
Obviously you could cut up a paper towel roll as well for this fire starter idea, but simply stuff dryer lint or other flammable materials into the tube. Make sure it's full but not packed, as you need air space to let oxygen in. You can add wax or petroleum jelly as well, but it works quite well as is.
We all have too much corrugated cardboard coming through our house. Instead of recycling or burning it, do both! Cut strips about two inches wide by three or four inches long. Dip them in melted wax, leaving a small portion undipped. The corrugation leaves channels for air flow, and these light very easily.
Don't limit yourself to just these examples. There are many other creative ways to make your own DIY fire starter. You could use birch bark, dried conifer twigs, cotton balls, etc. Or you could even combine some of these ideas together, such as putting a pinecone into an egg shell container, and covering with wax and sawdust.
As long as it lights easily and burns for a few minutes, you've succeeded.
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