How to Make Amazing Fire Starters

How to Make Amazing Fire StartersIt can be frustrating when you try to light a campfire and the wood just won't seem to catch. Sometimes it's because it's windy, or the wood is too damp. Sometimes there doesn't seem to be a good reason. One way to kick-start your fire is to use a fire starter. You do not need to purchase one at a camp store. You can make amazing fire starters using a few household materials. It's best to assemble them before your trip.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Make an Egg Carton Fire Starter

Things You’ll Need:
  • Paper egg carton
  • 1-1/2 pound wax block
  • Sauce pan
  • Spoon
  • 1 cup sawdust
  • 4 cups dryer lint
  • Waxed paper
  • Petroleum jelly
  • 10 cotton balls
  • 35-millimeter film canister or similar container
Step 1
Tear your egg carton in half, separating the bottom from the top. Discard the top portion. Fill the holes in the bottom half, where the eggs usually sit, with dryer lint. Ball up the lint first so that it fits tightly.
Step 2
Place your saucepan on the stove and turn the burner on high. Put the wax block in the pan and heat it until it melts, stirring as needed so it doesn't stick to the pan. Turn off the heat as soon as you notice the hot wax beginning to boil.
Step 3
Place your egg carton on a sheet of waxed paper to catch the dripping wax. Slowly pour the wax from the pan over top of the carton, covering as much of the dryer lint as possible. Do not try to cover the sides of the egg carton.
Step 4
Sprinkle sawdust into the wax before it dries and hardens. Try to distribute the sawdust evenly. Once it's dry, cut the egg carton into six different sections. Each becomes a separate fire starter.
Step 5
Use your fire starter by placing it in the fire circle and lighting one corner of the egg carton with a match. The lint burns easily and the wax helps to sustain the fire until your wood begins to catch.

Make Cotton Ball Fire Starters

Step 1
Spoon a cup of petroleum jelly into a shallow dish. Pull 10 cotton balls out of the bag that are tightly packed, without a lot of loose cotton threads.
Step 2
Roll each cotton ball across the petroleum jelly, as if you were pushing a snowball, until it is completely coated on the outside.
Step 3
Put the balls in the film canister, packing them in tightly. Use two or three balls for each fire. Do not burn the film canister.

Tips & Warnings

Let any wax remaining in the saucepan after you're done with your fire starter dry before you try to remove it. You should be able to simply peel it off, which makes for easy cleaning.
If you don't have dryer lint, you can substitute more sawdust, shredded paper or even leaves or small pieces of kindling.
Never use a plastic or Styrofoam egg carton. If you burn it it will release toxic fumes into the air.
Don't get your fire starter wet. This will hurt its effectiveness.
Keep unused fire starters away from the fire circle in a cool and dry place.

Article Written By Kate Evelyn

Based in Washington, D.C., Kate Evelyn has been writing professionally since 2000. Her articles have appeared in numerous publications, including "Elle" magazine, "Brass|CU" magazine and the "Credit Union Times." She holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Western Maryland College.

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