Showing posts with label fire starters. Show all posts
Showing posts with label fire starters. Show all posts

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Home-made fire starters

As we move into campfire season, I am reminded of my home-made fire starter venture this winter.  Right after the winter holidays, blogger, Wisdom of the Moon, had a post about making fire starters from left over things at home.  I've made them before, and the post was a good push to do it again.

The blog advice at Wisdom was to put dried pine needles from holiday trees or the like into the individual pockets of paper egg cartons and pour melted wax from candle stubs into each.  I had always used dryer lint instead of pine needles and paper cupcake liners instead of egg cartons.  I liked the idea of the pine needles, but using up that useless dryer lint always made me feel good.  My eggs come in plastic containers since it's the only way I can get free-range eggs around here. In this case, I'd rather support more humane farming practices than be green.

On checking back to read comments at Wisdom, though, I found some disturbing information.  Someone else mentioned using dryer lint and the question arose, "Isn't there hair in dryer lint?"  I never thought of that.  In checking my finished fire starters, I was mortified to see that when held in the sunlight, there were definitely strands of hair standing up there.  I had planned on giving some of these away.  I don't know how to broach this subject delicately, but, there was also the question of just where the hair came from.  I'll leave it at that.  The normal display near the hearth pictured here:
won't be happening until I need a new supply of fire starters.  I did do some with the pine needles. They're easier to work with.  With lint, you have to keep topping off each one as the lint settles down.  The pine needles are just plain prettier and smell better, too.   I gave the pine ones away before getting pictures.  Trust me, though, they look much better even close up.

I do a few things differently that I think might work for others.  Rather than melting the candles on the double boiler as suggested at Wisdom, I use my large electric candle melter that you usually use to give off the candle scent without burning them.  I melt down the ones that have lost their scent for the fire starters first and then drop leftover stubs in the glass a few at a time.  Since there is always a lot of leftover wick material, I take it out of the melted wax (a wooden skewer works well), cut them up, and put pieces in the "cupcakes" as they begin to thicken.  It gives another place to light in addition to the paper when making a fire.  I put the cupcake tins in the sink to pour the wax.  There is little mess, but if something does spill, it can easily be cleaned up.

It may be a bit slower to use the melter, but it cuts down on the size of the equipment I need to keep for messing with wax.  I use the same disposable cupcake tins over and over.  They stack together and take up very little storage space.  

As for dryer lint, I am mixing it with potting soil for outside plantings.  If someone knows a good reason I should not be subjecting hostas and marigolds to dryer lint, please put it in the comment section.  I have a whole new respect for comment sections.  How humiliating it would have been to give away the hairy fire starters!