Introduction: Making Firestarters

Picture of Making Firestarters

This is my first stab at an instructable. This should be fairly simple to follow as I took pictures along the way to illustrate the steps. The firestarters can be used to start a fire in a fireplace, or when you are out camping or have a small bonfire in the backyard. The four items that you need to buy (and collect) are dixie cups or paper cups of some sort, candle wicks which can be purchased at the local craft store, laundry lint and used candle wax obtained from old candles whose wicks are too short to burn etc.

Step 1: The First Step Head Out to Walmart and Purchase Some Small Paper Cups

Picture of The First Step Head Out to Walmart and Purchase Some Small Paper Cups

Typically called "Dixie cups" these will cost about 4 bucks for 200 cups.

Step 2: The Next Step Is Collecting Laundry Lint

Picture of The Next Step Is Collecting Laundry Lint

If you want you can collect the lint from the laundry for several weeks like I did so that you have lots of lint to work with. We have a dog so we have lots of lint and hair from the laundry.

Step 3: Using the Lint Stuff the Dixie Cups Til They Are Full

Picture of Using the Lint Stuff the Dixie Cups Til They Are Full

You could probably use the lint and debris you collect fromo the vacuum cleaner as well but I use the stuff the dryer. Pack the cups til they are full.

Step 4: Cut Wicks for Each Cup

Picture of Cut Wicks for Each Cup

Using scissors cut the wicking into 1" to 2" segments.

Step 5: Stuff the Wicks Into the Cups

Picture of Stuff the Wicks Into the Cups

Pretty self-explanatory, tuck the end of the wick material into the cups so that a portion of it hangs out of the cups.

Step 6: Melt the Used Wax (careful Wax Can Get Very Hot on the Stove)

Picture of Melt the Used Wax (careful Wax Can Get Very Hot on the Stove)

I would recommend that you use a glass pickle jar to melt the wax. This prevents you from ruining one of your good pots. Place the wax to be melted in the glass jar, and place the glass jar in a pot half filled with water. Once the water boils it acts as a double boiler and slowly melts the wax. Be sure to use oven mitts as the glass jar will get hot!

Step 7: Pour Melted Wax Into the Paper Cups

Picture of Pour Melted Wax Into the Paper Cups

Using the oven mitts (I used those little winter mitts you get at the dollar store) carefully lift the jar out of the water and slowly pour the melted wax into each of the paper cups. When most of the melted wax is poured out return jar containing unmelted wax to the "double boileer" to continue melting the wax. ***Caution*** I found that when the pot boiled off the water and I refilled if that I cracked the jar with the new cold water, perhaps boil the water in a kettle to refill the pot.

Step 8: Ok Now Use the Firestarters

Picture of Ok Now Use the Firestarters

Set up your wood in the fireplace so that there is a place to set your firestarter underneath it. You don't even need to be very good at "teepeeing" the wood, the heat from the firestarter can start a fire even if you are an amateur. Using a BBQ lighter light the wick of the firestarter.

Step 9: Stack Wood Around Your Fire Starter

Picture of Stack Wood Around Your Fire Starter

If you have some kindling you may shove it near the firestarter but as you can see I started this fire with none!

Step 10: And That's It! Enjoy You Fire and the Lack of Frustration in Starting It.

Picture of And That's It! Enjoy You Fire and the Lack of Frustration in Starting It.

If you come up with some other stuff that would work send me a note here, I know a co-worker of mine uses wood chips, those little cups they serve ketchup in at Wendy's and used wax.


Part Time (author)2006-11-04

I like it. Anyone got suggestions about chemical we could add to the mix to add some color to the fire. In Scouts we made fireplace starters out of pine cones dipped in wax then we stuffed the gaps with a mixture of chemicals and ground wax. The cones burned for 10-15 minutes and added a blue or green hue to the fire. I'm sure it was a copper salt of some kind. Time to do some homework.

I knew I had seen it somewhere.

This link has a thorough list of colors

You don't need to do her water mix for this, just mix in with other ingredients.

bonniegirl (author)PlantMan2011-12-27

I make fire starters with woodchips and wax, I have made hundreds of them for camping. We want to add color now, but dont know how to go about it. We googled it and found the above site, but dont want to soak our wood chips. Have you tried mixing the chemicals in with the woodchips or wax yourself? and if so, how did it work???

Sodium will give you yellow, e.g. salt. Copper gives you blues/green. Scrape corrosion from copper pipe Lithium gives you a nice red, but I'm short on suggestions for sources. Although note that the metal atoms need to be rather hot, you're unlikely to produce colour from a relatively cool wax-flame.

m3harri (author)lemonie2008-12-12

Lithium Grease

I think even copper filing would work, in our local "dollar store" they sell a small packet of stuff you burn in your fireplace to make the fire burn in a variety of colors (2 bucks=2 minutes) I came across some old copper tubing this summer and by adding to a bonfire it produced a vivid gren colour for a LONG TIME. Go for it, however does I don't know how healthy if would be to breathe that indoors.

Osquar (author)2011-05-03

Nice =) I can get a surplus of this easily enough, being a student and living in a student complex.

etw (author)2011-03-19

Very interesting. Still, I am somewhat reluctant to buy anything for it or do much work, since I get a bunch of firestarters (probably paer impregnated in wax) for about 45 cts.

nevertheless, I usually poor baking grease from my pans into an empty egg container and save candle scrap for this purpose as well.

Using lint is new to me. Great idea, Until now I have been putting it in my nest boxes so the birds had an easy start.

Pinecones indded are very good as well. You can even cook on those on a 'hobo stove'

EmmettO (author)2010-03-25

 I've been experimenting lately with used cooking oil instead of wax. Bacon grease also works and is thicker.

Another additive is used coffee grounds.

vegasgrrl24 (author)2010-03-04

you can also buy candles second hand at salv army or goodwill. i imagine some will be pretty cheap. The taper candles always look pretty rough to me!

flabden (author)2010-01-03

You could also use a cardboard egg box.  Just cut the egg holders out and fill with wax and lint/sawdust. (author)2007-11-28

I have made these before with the sawdust and egg cartons too. It seems like a big waste to use paper cups that have never even been used before. Maybe if you would rather use cups than an egg carton, you should save up used coffee cups (from your friends because you, of course, bring your own travel mug with you when you get coffee to go :). ) Good to know that you can use lint instead of sawdust.

woelfwynde (author)liza.lu2009-10-15

There is an instructable here that uses newspapers to make seed starting pots.
Wrap the newspaper around a cup like object, fold the bottom up, tiewith string to hold.
Add shredded paper, lint, etc. (as above) to the "paper cup".
That would be better than using brand new and recycles the newspaper buildup.

chinese_boy (author)2009-08-07

i have my own version of fire starting. just tear a sheet paper in to strips, pile it up,put some small candles in (any wax would do), pile kindling over , put o fuse (a strip of paper),and light!!!!!

Ifer (author)2008-11-10

I find that egg cartons and pinecones work well. For fancier ones, you can add potpourri and stuff to make them smell nice.

pdub77 (author)Ifer2009-02-14

what? the dog hair isn't fragrant enough for you? ; )

Africorn (author)pdub772009-05-16

Eeeeeewwww! :oD

sthealthraider (author)2009-04-28

can i use cotton wool too?? i dont have a dryer

bthistle (author)2009-01-09

I find that soaking used wine corks (real corks only) in a jar of 91% rubbing alcohol works well. i generally toss old corks in a pickle jar full of rubbing alcohol and let them soak for a couple days before using.

friendorphobia (author)2008-11-09

My mom always used to melt wax in a coffee can. Do they still make coffee cans? Point being, cans are free and can heat and cool without breaking. Nice instructable!

yeerk21 (author)2008-11-01

instead of paper cups u should use cardboard egg cartons-burns longa

yeerk21 (author)yeerk212008-11-01

lerned it form camp

debb (author)2007-04-01

I make pine cone fire starters ,I would definitely use a double broiler or I improvise and use a large pan that will hold a smaller can ( lg. coffee can), put a couple inches of water in the large pan, put wax into the can and set the can with wax into the large pan . I also use plaining wood or wood chips as the sawdust does not soak up the wax very well. I get my wax for the starters from old candles that my family and friends save for me. I also get my wicks from the used candles I melt. Oh make sure you use an old pan, it can get messy. I also use the egg carton w/wood chips and lint they are great for starting a camp fire. If you get low on cups how about that cupcake holder you have in the bottom of the cupboard. Just use the veg. spray and you don't need a cup and they pop right out when they set.

spchtr (author)debb2007-06-09

You can also use cotton balls soaked in melted vaseline (Petrolium Jelly). They work real good as fire starters. Incidentally you can get some paper cups for free (really small ones) at some fast food restarants. They use them for condiments if they've got the pump condiments available.

ex.libris.lady (author)spchtr2008-09-27

Just because they're out for use doesn't mean the little cups are free. I think eggs cartons are your best bet for "free" containers.

Derin (author)2008-07-17

FOR ANOTHER STARTER(OOPS CAPS LOCK) just dry a log for 2 years an voila.its a method mainly used here

Notags (author)2007-10-26

My wife and kids made some of these using cardboard egg crates and chain saw dust from a tree I cut up that fell in our yard. She had tons of candle stubs and a 5 gal. bucket of wood dust. The candles were scented so we now have the best smelling campfires!! Nice instructable.. Never thought about using lint!!

PlantMan (author)2007-02-25

Using sawdust a/o wood chips is also good, BUT if you use them you need to mix wax and wood in a bowl over heat and then put in cups. Pour wax in to cup and it will not penetrate to bottom. Chainsaw chips are the perfect wood, and blue jean lint is the best lint.

Roflolommo (author)2006-12-11

i did this one time and if you have alot of wax, a wet cup and you wait long enough you can pour the wax out just when its catching on fire and it looks like your pouring a stream of fire. P.S. dont try to do it becuase the cup was on fire in my hand and i didnt enjoy it much

Doc Workingday (author)2006-11-03

All lint is not created equal. Lint from plastic clothing doesnt burn well, and lint from wool and hair smells bad. Cotton lint is the best. For the first batch, by all means use whatever lint you can get your hands on. But for later batches (when you already have some firestarters on hand), only collect the lint from washing the whites. I also second the cardboard egg carton suggestion.

gruaqt (author)Doc Workingday2006-11-03

Ok I agree with you guys, the wick is redundant and an egg carton is free as you usually throw it out anyways. The next time I have a full batch of lint (any type I'm not fussy) I'll try and redo this instructional. The feedback is good though....

Kacey3 (author)2006-11-03

Instead of endangering yourself with a pickle jar, you can just buy some used pots and pans from your local goodwill or other resale store. My wife makes candles and uses some old tin coffee caraffes for melting the wax. Great instructable.

Tool Using Animal (author)2006-11-02

Those look like the nastiest jello shots ever. Isn't the wick redundant? It's a paper cup after all, just light the cup.

PetervG (author)2006-11-01

Looks cool, maybe put a circle of paper on top with a hold for wick to make them look neater? They look nasty : (

Austinisi (author)PetervG2006-11-01

you burn them. why would they need to look nice?

PetervG (author)Austinisi2006-11-02

No, just because they will be probably stored around the house for later use, I think it would look gross having them open.

happysteve (author)2006-11-02

I heard of someone using egg cartons, NOT the Styrofoam ones but those cardboard kind. Can make 12 of them easily and cut them when needed.

IdahoDavid (author)happysteve2006-11-02

It works good to put a pine cone into each of the cups in the egg carton and pouring the wax over them. Fire good -- cook meat.

partyone (author)2006-11-02

Once when I was an itty bitty boy..... in the Boy Scouts we made fire starters using rolled up newspaper and parafin.

westfw (author)2006-11-02

I can't quite tell from the pictures; do you pretty-much fill up the dixie cups with wax to make linty candles, or just enough to make waxy clumps of lint?

gruaqt (author)westfw2006-11-02

Good question westfw, It really depends on what supplies you have on hand, last time I made really linty candles, this time I made really waxy clumps of lint, I guess the former might be more visually appealing, Again I;m not going for the esthetics of the project just the utility.

FrenchCrawler (author)2006-11-01

My parents do something similiar to this, but instead of lint they use saw dust/chips. They work rather well too. Good job BTW :)

gruaqt (author)2006-11-01

Hey guys if you wanted pretty I could do pretty but when your gf is saying start the g*dd*mn fire this will do this trick.

Austinisi (author)2006-11-01

nice, by the way.

SurferGeek (author)2006-11-01

Until the fire is started well you will get the smells back into the room a bit and I noticed what looks like hair in your dryer lint... that's gotta stink!

meddler (author)2006-11-01

Well, looks don't really matter it's performance you want. I have always made mine out of egg cartons you just rip off the one you need and they start very easily without a wick. They burn hot and heavy for bout 10 minutes and will start a fire very well.

About This Instructable




Bio: I've had a lifelong interest in reducing my impact on the environment, (reducing my footprint so to speak). In my early 20's a ... More »
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