Instructables

How to make AMAZING fire starters (BoyScout Style)

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I have been making fire starters for years now, and they have never proved me wrong. The way I make them is the most economic, and environmentally friendly way out their. (That I know of)
 
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Step 1: Supplies

Picture of Supplies
The items you will need for making these AMAZING fire starters are:
1+ paper egg carton
# any old wax candles or surplus wax
an old pan that you will only be using for this
Kindling (box of sawdust, dryer Lint, etc.)
Large sheet of Wax paper
Scissors ( only if using 2.5 Dozen egg carton)
Source of Heat ( Stove top, hot plate, etc.)

[Wax can be a lot cheaper than people think. I got about 10 pounds of wax for $8.50! Just check out your local second-hand store or a garage sale. I went to value world for mine]
[I got the sawdust from a local sawmill for FREE!]

Step 2: Prep.

Before you start anything else you should put the wax in your pan and set the heat on medium-high. Don't leave it on high for too long or the wax will begin to boil and you don't want that. Once the wax begins to melt you should turn the heat on to low so it gives you more time. After you have the wax melting you should start to stuff your egg carton. If it is a 2.5 dozen then cut it in Half. This will make it easier on you later.start to stuff the tray. If using only lint then you must pack it tight. If using sawdust pack it moderately tight.
jimbo921075 months ago

In general you should avoid burning chlorine compounds where you can inhale the fumes. Most of them are quite toxic. And please don't use gasoline to start a fire. It's much too volatile to be a safe outdoor fuel. Stinks, too. Both gasoline and styrofoam produce black, nasty, toxic smoke. Bad, bad idea.

Stick with candle wax mixed with lint. A little tuft of dry lint on top will light the thing just fine.

Flammer2 years ago
These work great! I use a metal paint can and a hot plate. It takes a couple hours to melt the wax but the temp is low enough that it's not dangerous. And you can just keep using the same old paint can so there's no clean up.

Once the wax is in liquid form, I dump in my dryer lint and stir it with a long stick. Then I use the same stick to fill the egg carton. I let it dry over night and break them up. Never tried the saw dust, I will next time. Thanks!
spylock3 years ago
I did this a couple years back but I used only sawdust and wax and of course the paper egg carton,they worked great but are a little slow on a really cold morning now I use my torch,but you must be careful to stand the torch upright and away from stuff because it takes a while for the tip to cool.
i lieu of sawdust you can use pine cones too...
We actually use this same type of thing for starting our pellet stove. We just save all the dryer lint. My great grandmother did this when I was a child but she used old thin rags tore into strips and clippings from sewing.

Also...if you're into polyester clothes...don't use that lint. Natural fibers like cotton and wool (washed and dried old wool army blankets make great lint for starters) burn well, and you don't have to worry about any vapors/fumes. Also, beeswax is a lovely natural alternative to petroleum based candles.
You can safely melt wax in a crockpot.....there are even little "tart" melters if you'd only like to make a few fire starters at a time.
RTyler70713 years ago
Boy Scout Motto "Be Prepared". If you only bring a knife and flint, what happens if you lose one? What are you using for tinder? Scrapings from a dead branch, or pocket lint? What happens when it is middle of winter and 20 below, your hands are numb and it is hard to hit a flint and knife let alone blowing tenderly on a spark when you can't control your breathing you are so cold? Survival 101, carry multiple ways of firestarting in multiple locations. Last resort, flint and tinder, first try, use a lighter.
Using flint is supposed to be for fun, or as a back up. The Scouts "be prepared" motto would imply that you should "be prepared" with a light, torch, matches, etc.

Practice with flint and steel and sticks, but always have back ups for you backup. Even the greatest things on earth have redundancy or back up.
I have a flint necklace. I found a piece of flint with a naturally occuring hole in it and wear it everywhere. And I'm the type of person that has a knife, always, unless I'm going somewhere where there will be metal detectors. :)
Always keep more than one knife on you.
As far as flint is concerned, out here where I live, flint can be found on the ground. You can find flint in fields or near rivers, you've just gotta know what you're looking for.
The alternative is rubbing two sticks together- so not fun. Or if you're lucky enough to need glasses, use the sun to start your fire.
medius4 years ago
Now, why use wax? Why not jus tfill the egg carton frame with the tinder, and duct tape it shut? Is there a special function for the wax?
Have you ever lit a candle wick without the wax? The wax allows it to burn longer. Without the wax, the sawdust will just burn up. The sawdust acts like a wick and the melted wax burns, but not the sawdust. When there is no more wax, the sawdust burns. That's why candles burn for so long with just a short wick.
right. perafin, if im not mistakein, is a byproduct of petrolium. therefor it burns almost explosively if its in the right conditions
Data6433 years ago
They make special styrofoam that does not release toxins when it burns. It is used for making model railroad hills. Most hobbyists cut this foam with a hot wire cutter, so the company that made the foam wanted it to be safe.
It's called a flint and knife like we do in troop 91
hey this is a pretty cool idea, a good way to recycle. right now my firestarter is a match and a crumpled up piece of newspaper, thanks alot!
In my troop we call these cheating duct taping the tinder in would work the adhesive on duct tape burns surprisingly well
sgt. frog4 years ago
idk bout your "girlscout" troop in 333 we have flint, a knife, and whatever we forage.
fragmaster44 years ago
Charl, that is improvised Napalm. I wouldn't play around with that stuff. If you DO make it don't touch it or step on it. =/
A very effective fire starter can be made by putting poly-styrene (styrofoam) in a container with some unleaded gasoline. The styrene is melted by the gas leaving a soft plastic like sunstance. Scoop some out and use as fire starter. Safe and effective. Half a cup of gas will be enough to melt all the styrene packaging for a large screen TV and you should be able to start around 20 fires with that.
Or you could just throw a couple pounds of TNT into your house...
Good idea, I might try that...
Errr... I wouldn't recommend that... it would probably ruin your credit.
Ruin my credit?
Well blowing up your house just because someone told you to probably isn't going to look too good when you apply for life insurance...
I was just joking! :-)
Oh... because you know I was eager to see "DIY'er attempts to blow up own house" or something on the news reels... another time maybe :D
while explosives will work they hurt badly.....take it from saomeone who know, when i am camping i just use cotton balls and a flint and steel its the easiest way to start a fire.
... It was a joke.
I know im just making conversation........
Seeing as your a fan, you must always ask the question "what would Walter do?".  He sure as hell wouldn't go to the trouble of flint and cotton.
           Don't throw it your own house. Think about it!
Nah... That just blow your house apart, not light it on fire. Napalm, though...
Gasoline? :P My Grandpa tried gasoline. He was wrapped up like a mummy for months (True story)
Your Grandpa must have underestimated the power of gasoline as an accelerate.
No... I come from a long line of pyros. I'm just the best at it.
you do realize the Styrofoam when melted or set on fire releases a toxic fume that can make you very sick and cause you to wind up in the hospital, this idea, while great, should never be done with kids around
I'd like to quickly look at those "fumes" poly-styrene (styrofoam) is a hydrocarbon. Being a hydrocarbon it burns like so Fuel + Air = Heat + Water + Carbon dioxide + Nitrogen. Taken into account the incomplete burn of hydrocarbons the "toxic fumes" are most likely a simple mix of Carbon and water vapor (commonly perceived as smoke) and compounds composed of Carbon, Oxygen, and Nitrogen. This process is no more dangerous than heating your home with natural gas or fuel oil. A hydrocarbon is a hydrocarbon is a hydrocarbon.
Part of the reason there are so many different hydrocarbons is because they are 'doped' with other chemicals, and because of the differences in molecular structure which result from the circumstance of their creation. Various elements may seem innocuous because they are components of such things as air, earth, food etc. but that is not necessarily the case.
Styrene contains a chemical called phosgene - COCl[2], an acid chloride. It is mentioned in schedule 3 of the Chemical Weapons Convention, and was used as such as far back as WWI. In the lungs, it disrupts the blood-air barrier causing suffocation in sufficient concentrations. The mere burning of a styrofoam cup releases several times the amount which would require industrial breathing protection, and it disperses rapidly.
Good Response and accurate.  I would only add that the burning of many, if not almost all, of our common houshold furnishings result in the same hazards gasseous compounds.
Thats also a great recipe for napalm, but you didnt hear that from me. :)
This is waaay late, but anyway.. I'm going to assume this is sarcastic. If not, wwwwhhhhhaaaattt? For those readers who actually are that stupid, DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT use styrofoam for anything related to fire! It is toxic and harmful to the environment (remember the ozone layer?). While it is true that just tossing a bit of styrofoam on a campfire probably won't harm you because it's out in the open and the fumes will dissipate fairly quickly, it's still not a good idea.. better safe than dead.
Safe?! In what world is playing with flammable solvents and toxic chemicals safe?
vestie Afka5 years ago
What is your definition of toxic? The paraffin wax in the firestarters release the same chemicals when burned. The only danger I can think of is the unburned vapors evaporating off the volatile mix, in which case keeping the solution in a sealed container is ample storage. All of this I would consider safe. It's no different than being around a gas stove top. Please if you truly disagree with me i would be delighted to have you enlighten me.
lobo_pal5 years ago
Have to ever thought of using sap-soaked wood shavings?
We use something similar, already prepared by nature. We call it fat lighter (I'm in north Florida), easy to find at the base of a felled pine tree. Smells marvelous as well.

Yep, we've used the same thing for decades.  Here in SE Texas we allways called it "Fat Pine."  It is LOADED with turpentine! 

A dead, fallen Pine tree will rot away leaving the "heartwood" center.  This heartwood part is LOADED with the fuel rich sap, oils, tars, and actually contains Turpentine.

I don't know if it's done today, but many years back Turpentine was commercially obtained / "made" by "cooking down" Pine tree stumps.  After the "loggers" had finished, the "Turpentiners" would come and dig or buldoze the stumps up, and sell 'em to the Turpentine processing plants.

sleepismything92 (author)  oakback5 years ago
If you live in florida you should check out florida Sea Base. It is loads of fun.
Woot, I'm going in feb! Seabase is awesome
The sap of pines like that is highly flammable when concentrated.
just sap would work fine it is flammable pick some red sap off of a pine tree,not white or yellow.
sleepismything92 (author)  lobo_pal5 years ago
No i have not
It's a survival technique. they will burn even if wet, and are very powerful.
I would add, for safety's sake, to melt the wax using a double boiler method instead.  You don't want to heat wax directly on a burner, particularly paraffin, as uneven heating will cause a hot spot to ignite.  This type of fire is large, uncontrollable, and very difficult to put out properly.

If you take a large pot of boiling water, and melt the wax in a separate container floating in the water, you have much less chance of igniting the wax.  The heating is more even, and the temperature of the wax will not exceed 212 F until the entire block has melted.

For a more environmentally friendly way, skip paraffin altogether and instead use soy wax.  It's non-toxic (unlike paraffin, which is a petroleum by-product) renewable, and can be melted easily and safely in the microwave.

Otherwise, good job on the Instructable.
+1 on the fire hazard, especially indoors.
xd12c4 years ago
If you are unable to find anyone to give up old candles or anything for wax, either check your arts & crafts store for candle wax OR your local supermarket for parafin. Parafin works better if I remember my boyscout days correctly. It's pretty much the same stuff, but used in canning & jelly making.
Edmund08044 years ago
Hey, if you want to start a fire check out this guys video!! Its AWESOME!! www.allweatherfirestarters.com
good idea
jottorn5 years ago
Hey all, thanks for the cool suggestions for fire-starters. I'm a Webelos leader of 4, mid-way to their Boy Scout rank, and we are prepping to do our first big den camp of the season now that I've been officially "Cub Scout Trained" to play with fire (despite having been a Girl Scout for 7 years and an avid camper and outdoorswoman since the ripe age of 7!) I've been looking for some new strategies to try for fire-starters that will be safe and easy for the boys to create (and fast-during a den meeting). Most all of these look to foot the bill so to speak. Thanks! Janet
Opaltrinket5 years ago
have you ever thought os sawduct in a toilet paper roll held in with newspaper. I like the idea of the egg carton and wax, its a great use for the dryer lint. good job.
DIY-Guy5 years ago
Our famiy just wraps pieces of used wax paper (usually from home-made taffy candies) into the empty spots (between the "petals") on a pitch covered pine cone. It goes up like a torch after a few seconds and always gets our tinder started right up!
hamraddude5 years ago
Dryer lint contains fibres that will give off toxic fumes when burning. I made some fire starters with my cub scouts, but used wood chips (the ones used for pet rabbits) instead of the dryer lint.
I find this hard to believe seeing as (depending on what your clothes are made of) it would most likely contain a mix of polyester fibers (or other synthetic compound) or cotton fibers (or other natural compounds like wool). Cotton (like most other natural compounds) is a plant fiber not dissimilar in chemical composition to wood. Where as polyester is made of chains of hydrogen and carbon commonly know as hydrocarbons that have the same combustion process as natural gas. Unless your clothes are dyed with LARGE amounts of toxic chemicals it is unlikely that it will effect your body more than spending time in an urban environment. I can't think of anything else i would put in my dryer but correct me if i'm wrong.
farcedude5 years ago
I've made a variant of these, using sawdust instead of lint, and decided to time one once, to see how long it would burn for. It ended up somewhere around the 11 minute mark, more than enough time to get a fire started.
can i use cotton wool?? i dont have a dryer
right on!! this takes me back to the good ole days of scouting!! did you ever do the rolled up newspaper ones? I made it all the way to Eagle Scout. You?
ryborg50005 years ago
Better than sliced bread!! I use these every time I go camping!
1nstru5 years ago
If you don't do this in your garage or workshop, but in your living room, as i have to, due to the lack of a garage or workshop or even a yard, then an old baking tray will go a long way as your working surface! I use one i bought used for a buck and it saved me quite many repairs to my living room table ;) it's especially usefull for soldering work as well, when a misplaced tool means a nasty burn mark on wood bit a nice nothing on the metal tray. just be careful to not let the tray get too hot (too much molten wax spilled, blowtorch directed at the tray) or it will damage the surface underneath.
I've made these before they work insanely well.
amadanj5 years ago
I made some this week but instead of wood shavings I used paper from my paper shredder. They work great!
Bladelover5 years ago
Our Scouts made these on our last campout and loved it!Yes they are waterproof,just shake off as much water as possible.
comander015 years ago
would it work to melt the wax in a pot of hot water with the insides of the pot covered in tinfoil to prevent the wax from sticking to the pot?
nave5 years ago
i like my version better- get 50 cat tail (the insides are like danilions) and light them.
fwjs285 years ago
*cough* gasoline=sugar/cotton does not equal anything close to napalm *cough*
e-pandemic5 years ago
psh. girl scout style please
wel... back in tho good old days when girlscouts was acually building things and camping.

:(
benz_z5 years ago
cool idea but i find a zippo and anything in an arisol can is a little more readily available
benz_z benz_z5 years ago
and no preparation
crickle3215 years ago
Nice job! Do the fire starters work when wet?
wax.... the tinder never actually gets wet. This is actually in the boy scout handbook somewhere, but it's nice to share.
when i was in boy scouts, we dipped rolls of newspaper in wax. they worked amazingly.
We used dryer lint in a film canister.
I always like what you get when you dip a cotton ball in vaseline and wrap it in lint BSA style chattahoochee council
patperry5 years ago
Great idea! I've been bringing shredded paper home from work. Now I'll make some of these and stop cursing at the wet wood I just bought.
BeanGolem5 years ago
Do you know if the wax will melt completely in a double-boiler situation? It could save you a perfectly good pan, and it would avoid the danger of boiling the wax, perhaps. Just a thought. I used to make these by rolling up strips of newsprint, tying a string around them, and then soaking the whole thing in wax for a while. fantastic.
Go find out by doing... and take a food thermometer with you.
Actually that is the preferred method. It makes it much harder to screw up the temperature.
sleepismything92 (author)  BeanGolem5 years ago
Yes, the wax will melt completely in a double boiler. It will just take longer than the 5-6 minutes it took me.
Danger! Danger! Will Robinson! Wax vapors are EXPLOSIVE! This is a good idea, but you should always melt the wax in a double-boiler so that it can't get dangerously hot. My version of this was a strip of newspaper rolled tight, tied with thread, then dipped in the wax. To start your fire you unroll a little of the newspaper and put it under your tinder. I am still using some that prepared thirty years ago.
makoman115 years ago
Nice one, I am a Boy Scout and this can be very handy! Good job.
ghos7man5 years ago
Im a Boy Scout and we just use matches and sometimes shavings.
gungun ghos7man5 years ago
for shame. No woodcraft at all? I made these fairly regularly, though I spent more time on longer hikes than a number of troops seem to do now. I do remember seeing this in the handbook, and I only purchased mine about 10 or so years ago.
ghos7man gungun5 years ago
ya we dont use the book at all and 6 twenty milers are required for eagle for us
gungun ghos7man5 years ago
Fair enough, it's good that they are expecting scouts to do some more backpacking. Here in WA, if you don't pack something like these little buggers, it can be very interesting to get a fire going. It can be done, but pouring rain makes these things MUCH quicker. On an unrelated note, I'm glad there are still some troops that have some focus on outdoors activities and not just morals... I don't agree with some of the views of the current national organization, but it is their right to do what they are doing with the organization.
sleepismything92 (author)  ghos7man5 years ago
What Troop are you in and from what state? Im an Eagle Scout in Troop 1234 of Michigan in the Three Rivers District Detroit Area Council
im an eagle scout of 979 in Chicago Area i think i heard of ur troop before, do u go to Minnesota for summer camp?
Neat Instructable! But a lighter? Seriously? Just kidding. I'll have to try this out soon.
paulpcc5 years ago
how do you get so much lint? i can hardly find a teaspoon from every washing machine load :)
MoRoToRiUm5 years ago
I recommend using an old soup can, and water. Put your wax in the can, and into your pot with boiling water. The water does a more then adequate job at transferring the heat, and you don't have to worry about cleaning wax from your pot.
mpmayer5 years ago
you can add some fine steel wool it burns hot and you can start it with a 9volt battery then
jalet5 years ago
Here is how I upcyle my project. I start with an empty metal 3 pound coffee can. Then I dump in all the old votive candles that come in the metal casing. I either leave the open can on the top of a very low fire wood stove on a metal rivet, or put the can into a dutch oven 1/2 full of boiling water. I shake the can once in awhile until most of the wax is tipped out of the little cups. When the wax is melted, I just take a big spoon and remove the now empty cups from the wax. I pour the wax over the prepared egg carton and lint containers. I clean our church so I save the used candles and have a readily available supply of garbage (I mean upcycled candles).
emmjul5 years ago
That's pretty similar to this Instructable:
http://www.instructables.com/id/The_world_best_fire_starter/
junits155 years ago
i usually use cotton balls and vasiliene
edrainkona5 years ago
Ever tried lighter fluid? Works like a charm.
I believe you are missing the point of this instructable. He mentioned above that it's economic and environmentally friendly. In some situations lighter fluid has its downfall.
crispyking5 years ago
is it a twisted firestarter ?
uliner5 years ago
They work great. You can make a double boiler out of 2 tin cans that fit inside each other. Also charcoal from your BBQ in a few of the egg slots works great too.
tradergordo5 years ago
All the firestarter instructions I've seen are cute, but a huge waste of time. You can just buy a 6 or 8 lb. wax fire log from any hardware store or walmart for as little as $2 (I've seen them priced all over the board from $2 up to $6). Then you can either just break off small pieces (hammer and wedge/chisel work well) as you need them, or get out the circular saw and cut it all up at once (do this outside!). You can get 50-100 extremely good fire starters from a single log. You save time & money over just about any other idea.
alinashea5 years ago
I think this a good project to help use up the lint in your house. I would never use anything like lighter fluid (yeah, I'm one of those tree-hugging, green freaks) and when we go camping, this would be a great way to get the fire going in the damp early mornings.
alpha1dk5 years ago
We make these with dryer lint and canning wax that you can get at Big lots or the dollar store. These are amazing and will start in the pouring down rain.....
callmeshane5 years ago

Hmm Double Boilers are basically designed to remove any hot spots, which can be a pain with some ingredients - hot pan bottom, cold pan sides = burnt bottom.

The advantage of double boilers, is that they are temperature limited - to the boiling point of the water and they give a significant time factor until the wax catches fire, over direct pan on heat source heating.

I won't mention any easy to distract and absent minded people who put things on the stove on HIGH, so it can all heat up in 5 minutes as opposed to 15 to 20 minutes... then decide to make a cup of tea, and then decide to go for a poo, and then decide to check their emails.. and reply to a few, and then start to watch a heap of vids on Youtube and then start doing a few letters... and then associate the funny smell in the air is linked to the kitchen being on fire....

This is the principle SAFETY factor in using double boilers.

A temperature controlled double boiler, via a thermostat is an excellent idea.

A number of things that catch fire do so not from being rip-roaring flame throwers, but from being silent, passive and discrete - like candles.

Someone lights a candle, puts it on a shelf near a window... they go to visit the neighbors to borrow a cup of sugar and have a cup of tea - little bit of a breeze pops up.... the curtains just flow in the breeze, backwards and forwards across the flame and 5 minutes later, their house has burned down...

This is that safety factor that double boilers / boiling inherently provides.

Candle wax has a melting point of around 80*C.
i used parrafin waxand did what u did to the candles and i used this stuff: shrreded paper from a paper shredder goes in the middle coffee filter as the outer layer of it small braided rope or twine some thing to bind it also acts as the wick then dip it in the melted wax to create a layer this makes the paper last longer and water proof i used these things to get wet wood to go in a down pour of rain it burned for like 30 mins on its own
make an instructable for it!
when i get some more time maybe
I made a batch of these a while back using the same method, except I didn't use dryer lint and lit the egg carton directly. Different strokes for different folks. Worked just as well though. Good job.
A piece of wax paper works well by itself.
snorkledorf5 years ago
I've made these before and they work great!