Guest Author - Angela Webster
When the nights start getting cooler that means the time is right for a crackling fire. Using fire starters will help build a great fire in no time.
You can make them simple or decorative. Either way, fire starters are efficient and a good way to use up your scrap wax. It’s nice to have a good supply of these for those cooler nights.
The simplest fire starters are the kind you make with cardboard egg cartons and dryer lint.
Equipment & Supplies:
• Scrap Wax (mostly paraffin type wax works best)
• A Number of Cardboard Egg Cartons
• Dryer Lint (I keep an old tissue box on my dryer for collecting lint)
• Baking tray(s)
• Ladle (optional)
• Waxed Paper
Melt your scrap wax just until liquid, using a double boiler as always.
While you’re waiting for the wax to melt, cut or tear the lids off of your egg cartons and place the cartons on your baking tray(s). Start stuffing the lint into the carton sections until about half full. If you want, you can tear up pieces of the lid and place one or two pieces into the carton section on top of the lint. Your cartons are now ready to fill with wax.
Once your wax has melted, pour or ladle the wax into the sections. Allow to cool and harden completely. After they have cooled you can bend and break them into individual sections. You could cut them with scissors if you’d like but I think it’s easier to break them. Put them in a basket or bag and when you’re ready for a fire, tuck one or two into your wood pile and start them on fire. They will burn intensely for several minutes, allowing your wood to burn easily. The wax basically burns away so you shouldn’t end up with a wax pool or anything. If you have a lot of soy wax in your scrap wax, I've discovered that it tends to get a little messy and I don’t think it burns as well.
This type of fire starter is by no means decorative, in fact, they are rather ugly. I would never sell this type because they are not attractive and I doubt anyone really wants to buy my old dryer lint in any form.
To make decorative fire starters you could try a few different techniques.:
You could roll corrugated cardboard into a cigar shape and tie it tightly shut with raffia or cotton twine. Place a couple directly in your pot of melted wax and let them soak there for a few minutes. Don’t let your wax get too hot. You just need it melted. Use a pair of tongs or a fork or something to lift them out. Let as much wax drip from them as you can by tipping them upside down and back upside right a few times and place them on your baking tray. You could use a piece of waxed paper on your tray too. Repeat until you’ve used up your wax or until you have made as many as you want. You usually only need to use one of these at a time because they are bigger and burn longer.
You could also dip large pinecones into warm wax until they are well coated. After a couple of dips, spiral-wrap a piece of twine or raffia around the inside layers of the pinecone and leave an inch or two hanging from the top or bottom. This will act as your wick. Continue dipping until they are coated to your satisfaction. Let cool standing upright on waxed paper.
Another cute idea is to use a mini muffin tin. You should spray your muffin tins with mold release or cooking spray first. Cut pieces of newspaper or wrapping paper into three or four inch squares. Layer two or three of these squares together and press them into the mini muffin tins pressing into the corners and edges to act as a paper cup. Fill each section with melted wax almost to the top and let cool slightly. After it has cooled a little, place a small pinecone on top. I like to stand them straight up but I think they would look fine lying on their sides too. After they have completely cooled, pull them out or flip them out of the muffin tins. I suppose you could use a full sized muffin tin and a larger pinecone if you have a really big fire pit but the mini ones are good enough for most fires. Just ignite a corner of the paper when you’re ready to use.
Depending on your taste, and how perfect you want your fire starters to look, you could always add a little dye to your scrap wax to achieve a specific color. Depending on what colors your wax already has in it, you may not be able to achieve certain colors. If you’re going to sell these and you want a specific look, you could always use new wax along with dye and fragrance to suit your needs.
It’s amazing how well these work. I can’t make a descent fire without them now. They make your fire smell nice too!
Note: You would not want to use these for starting a grill if you are planning on cooking directly on the flame. Also, do not use these in gas fireplaces.