Introduction: Recycle Egg Cartons Into Fire Starter

Picture of Recycle Egg Cartons Into Fire Starter

I have lots of egg cartons properly stacked up in my storage. I regularly use some of them as a seed starter. But I can not use them all up. This is the work around I came up with about how to use the cartons faster.

Step 1: Materials

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We need egg cartons that you desperately want to throw away.

Step 2: Shred and Soak

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Shred the egg cartons with hand and soak them up. Soaking them properly takes around overnight.

Step 3: Blend

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Drain the excess water and blend then in a home grinder. Add water if the grinder seems to jam.

Take out the pulp and make small brickets by hand. I did it by hand. You can use some shaper that make them look good.

Make sure NOT to squeeze hard as the residual water makes space for air when it dries up.

Air dry the brickets. Total drying takes around 3 days in an Indian summer.

Step 4: Done

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After total drying you can use them to start a fire. They catch fire easily and a single bricket burns for around 15 minutes, much time to start a good fire.

The image shows output from 3 egg cartons.


ShivC3 (author)2015-12-18

egg cartoons are made of polystyrene if burned produce carcinogens including benzene and not continue with this practice for health sake

munchdog (author)ShivC32016-10-03

Not the petro based plastic type, the recycled cardboard ones. Shredded and mixed with melted wax, they'll burn long enough to actually cook on as well as start your fires.

pedricsu (author)ShivC32016-05-12

nope, this type of egg cartoon is made of cardbox.

JulianAzz (author)2015-08-13

nice idea I like it

felix_hancock (author)2015-07-24

I dont' have pics but worked out really well, went a step further with old candles covered in wax so they are waterproof. Skol!

Gr8fullyfed (author)2015-07-17

Perfect use for the leftover egg crates. Thank you! The kids will love this project.

SparkySolar (author)2015-06-14


SonyaM2 (author)2015-06-07

Great idea! I will be doing the same from now on. Thank you.

bettina-sisr (author)2015-06-01

Great Instructable! People will probably cringe, but if you mix these with newspaper, water, and mash up really good then dry you can use it as kitty litter too. Obviously non-clumping, but it is fairly biodegradable (better than actual K-litter) so if you live in the country you can shallow bury when used up. Like I said cringe, and please if you do not agree, that's fine w/me, I'm just making a further suggestion for egg cartons instead of the trash.

acoleman3 (author)bettina-sisr2015-06-02

i have to say, that's a rather top notch idea.

nkz75 (author)2015-05-08

Great inst. Thanks!

Be aware that potassium nitrate will colect moisture and will degrade. Store in a plastic bag or other air tight container. But I loved the idea!!

What a nice weekend it is going to be!!!:D

Best regards!

spark master (author)nkz752015-05-11

It takes a long time to absorb the water. It is an issue to be sure, but not that bad, keep them individually wrapped . It will absorb moisture, but , ammonium nitrate would be much much worse. After fully drying out drop them in melted wax to coat well and complete. now you crack it open to use it with spark source magnifying lens or match or add a piece of cotton string/wick to the ball before drying and using with matches or lighter. I would add several wicks.

You do bring up a valid point EVEN with out the KN03. A hot wax dip is really nice.

Now kiddies if you resort to hot wax please google here and in other places how to do it safely and outdoors and in an old pot or can , or incur the rather of the people who you live with. Fire is dangerous, and does kill, my dad, a NYC fireman of many years has described fire me, it is not play, and follow the safety rules. It is not a fun way to die. And yeas,,,i have lotsa scars....hence spark master.

acoleman3 (author)spark master2015-05-12

wow mate, it's wax...not a toxic chemical or nitro or blasting powder. all you have to do is adjust your burner at the melting temperature of the wax and preferably in a double boiler. a little common sense goes a long way.

spark master (author)acoleman32015-06-02

The safety warnings are there for 2 reasons, 1) people aren't as smart as you, (not a dig, reality, you are obviously not an idiot, you understand simple safety) 2) people here in the US like to sue.

I found out the following at Williamsburg Va. many years ago. In this country, lawsuits against the government (British Crown) were tiny in number, perhaps 10 a year. The crown simply did not admit any culpability in 99.9999% of any missteps.....Once the Crown was out and in our constitution was in and people could sue the government, the rate went sky high well over 700 lawsuits in the first year. I swear people sue because they can. It ids a tool used by police party and big corporations. You just sue them to death.

Hence the sometimes silly safety warnings... like when you walk into a King Kullen food store and it has a nice sized warning that says WARNING CUT FRESH FLOWER ARE SOLD HERE.

Apparently someone sued a store over it and either won or cause huge financial outlay and this was the response. (I guess they ran out of Zyrtec )

acoleman3 (author)spark master2015-06-02

i don't feel like repeating myself, so just read what i wrote to bettina-sisr.

bettina-sisr (author)acoleman32015-06-01

Firefighters are all VERY fire safety conscious, so just let 'em be, and hey there are people that will not use common sense and do need to be told these things. Just in case it's my neighbor, I'm glad some are generous with their safety comments:-) I know though, it seems like a no-brainer!

nkz75 (author)spark master2015-05-11

Hi there.
No time on weekend for try this out.
The wax dip is a good solution for isolating. I use it in smoke bombs, those do really colect moisture.

I should point out what spark master said!
Please be carefull with what you do! Fire is dangerous, and adding oxidizing chemicals to combustible materials is even more dangerous.
Be safe!
Live long and prosper!! ehehheh

spark master (author)nkz752015-05-12

I lived in NYC as a kid. we had humidity high enough to make bedbugs and dust mites very happy, every house has dust mites, we never had bedbugs (thankfully). We made lotsa black powder over the years, never had an issue unless it was stored open for a year or more. Sugar absorbs moisture much much much faster, but make BP wi the classic ingredients, KNO3, S, C and you have a very stable mixture, water wise. Add any version of sugar to it, as the reducer, you get issues.

But you idea has great merit, and waxing them is a doable thing. Additionally if you use sisal twine (cheap smelly stuff) you weave through when wet paper ball, wax the thing try not to wax the twine. And walllla thwill stand water if allowed to dry off, and remember you can always crack them open for a nice dry surface.

Woodworker_17 (author)2015-05-25

Could you use the styrofoam ones?

artworker (author)Woodworker_172015-05-25

Nooooo! Styrofoam reacts badly when comes in contact with fire. Poisonous fumes!

the norm (author)2015-05-12

We are always on the search for egg cartons for a farmer friend to sell her eggs. And here you all are trying to get rid of them. Please send me the cartons and use newspaper or drier lint or something to light the fire with.
Actually, that is a great idea, and when I find some messed up cartons I am making this for my survival kit.

Syx (author)2015-05-10

Would this work with old newspapers, or do you need the consistency of the cardboard? I have a whole stack that I was about to get rid of but would save some for this if it will work!

chatty_sniper (author)Syx2015-05-11

what you could do with the paper is tear into strip tie a bit of string then dip it into melted paraffin wax make a great fire starter

acoleman3 (author)chatty_sniper2015-05-12

actually, if you want to go the rout of other fire starter types, the best is to get 3 x 3 inch make up pads, stack two, cut the stack in half, stack the halves and cut again to make two cubes. dip the cubes in melted parafin and let them harden. to use, fluff up one side with a sharp object and light with either ferro rod, matches, lighter or some other ignition source (havn't tried it, but i doubt traditional flint and steel would work). they burn for 17 minutes and are completely waterproof.

acoleman3 (author)Syx2015-05-10

i can tell you by experience that it does. you can also take said newsprint, wet it, stagger and roll the sheets into logs around a 3/4 inch dowel until they're as big around as your hand is wide, let them dry for a few days and use them for fuel. they burn for hours. they do produce more ash than wood, but it's the most efficient way of burning them.

spark master (author)acoleman32015-05-12

I must try it this way, it is the staggering that makes them burn well. I must try some. Thanks

spark master (author)Syx2015-05-12

make paper mache with it, strip soaking squishing by hand or feet! You could use a blender, but this is not rocket science.


take a cleaned non smelly tuna/cat/dog food can tear strip 1/2 inch taller then can height loosely spiral into can til filled , but not stuffed tight. Add hot melted wax, instant starter. You do not over fill the can with paper , so the wax can get in.

CaroGow (author)2015-05-10

i have a surplus of toilet roll tubes right now - i'm wondering if this will work for them?

denisemuncy508 (author)CaroGow2015-05-12

I save all my toilet paper/ paper towel rolls and stuff them with lint from my dryer. I cut the paper towel rolls into thirds before stuffing them. I use masking tape to close the ends. These are great fire starters and actually burn very well if kept in a Zip lock bag till ready to use. We use them to start our campfires when we're out camping or vacationing. I suppose I could seal the ends with candle wax, but that seems like a lot of trouble. I am going to try the trick with the egg cartons. They seem to pile up quite fast.

Nrgdragon (author)2015-05-11

Goodbye egg cartons.Hello fire.

mrsarbuckle (author)2015-05-11

Love this idea. I have a friend who is using her fireplace to supplement her mobile home furnace heat. I love this idea of using the egg cartons. I've made fire starters using pine-cones drizzled with melted candles that I've purchased at yard sales or given to me by friends. It really helps if she's been out and comes home to an empty fireplace. Now I have one more idea to make to give her a hand. She's been able to cut her heating costs by 2/3rds using recycled wood gatherings and fallen timber.

spark master (author)2015-05-11

Very nice variant of the concept . Many people take saw dust and mix into melted tepid wax and pour into egg cartons, many add wicks other make a spiral of cardboard that just out to light.

Wax is expensive however, so this is a cost saver and you can use news paper as well if need be. But if you dip them in hot wax sealing them they can be made waterproof for storage. Add a few wicks while in paper mache mode or poke in several used birthday candles, let dry then dip in wax, you got serious btu power.

Break them open for use with sparks, magnifying glass or match/lighter. But adding a wick allows a match or lighter to catch fast as well.

tpagels (author)2015-05-10

Take left over wax from candles or those warmers mix in dryer lint and pour in the egg sections. You use three things normally thrown out and they work great!

Charles PaulD (author)tpagels2015-05-10

I go to garage sales and buy old candles melt them down and mix in lint from the dryer pour it into the egg cartons, then sell them when I am camping. I ask $1.50 per carton. They work great.

lalunette (author)Charles PaulD2015-05-11

Old candles and lint from the dryer... Genius !!!

Gonna have to try that !!!

BeachsideHank (author)tpagels2015-05-10

Back when I was an assistant Scoutmaster, I'd solicit candle stubs from the moms, and fill the cartons with sawdust from my shop, pouring in the wax I melted in a double boiler (never melt wax with direct heat). Break off a couple of cells and even on a wet morning it'd make a dandy fire starter and safe enough to let the Scouts do the preparation and light- off.

badgames (author)2015-05-10

Very old recipe from when I was in the Boy Scouts back in the Dark Ages. Take these pulp style egg cartons, wood excelsior (wood strings/shavings which used to be used for packaging), fill egg cups with balls of excelsior, then pour wax (buy bulk parafin or save and melt your candle stubs) and fill to brim (have the egg carton sitting on some foil or baking pan (not sheet) as wax will leak through. Let cool. Break up into individual fire starters, will light large diameter or wet wood. Cheating I know, but I would much rather be warm and/or fed than doing it right. The excelsior acts as wicking for the fire starter. Use an old or cheap pan to melt wax and be careful, it can catch on fire if you heat past what you need to melt it. So no wandering off.

When conditions are good, I can still build a fire by collecting all the right materials, but this guarantees you will have a useable fire in minutes in survival critical situations.

I do like this idea in this instructable, and wonder if you couldn't mix in some was after it has started to cool and re-congeal. Not as dramatic as potassium nitrate, but needs no special handling and is automatically waterproof.

buteman (author)2015-05-10

We are moving to a bungalow with a multifuel fire and have been reading
various threads about paper briquettes. They generally seem to say they
are not as good as people originally thought. it occurs to me that if I
could get a supply of waste vegetable oil i could make briquettes using
the paper mixed with the oil instead of water. Once the paper has been
soaked in the oil it could be pressed in one of the usual devices to
remove the excess oil which could be re-used and would not need to be
left to dry out. I would like to hear any thoughts on this idea. Does it
sound like a practical thing to do?

ooohlaa (author)2015-05-10

terrific! i will have to lurk around Public recycle bins as I don't eat eggs ... where do you get the potassium nitrate and is it toxic? be aware that sawdust from pressed wood would be considered toxic, probably any except untreated wood ... i would have some concern about the sawdust unless it knew the source ... we have to be very careful what we inhale these days as there is so much we cannot control and toxic fumes and additives is the main reason we get disease.

fasteddy999 (author)2015-05-10

I even used some cardboard packing material shredded up I just hand tore mine and packed it into plastic foam egg cartons its drying right now. I even sprinkled a little stump remover on them to make them easy to lite.

tjk1939 (author)2015-05-10

My eggs come in styrofoam. Bummer

GrumpyOldGoat (author)2015-05-10

Just before turning on the grinder add a teaspoon of sawdust to the mix and blend it in good.

That should extend the burn time substantially.

Now... Since a I have a few dozen of the 18 ct egg cartons, I have work to do...


Emmitts (author)2015-05-08

you should dry to mold them around dry kindling.

Orngrimm (author)2015-05-07

If you want to add a bit more "umph" to the starters, you can add a bit of oxidizer like potasium nitrate. If you add a good amount to the water (it is a salt and soluble in water) you will have brickets which burn like a matchhead, but only MUCH slower... I did that once with paper-pulp from old newspapers.Worked like a charm.

Cambenora (author)Orngrimm2015-05-08

Wax would work well also. I used to be able to get bricks of recycled newspaper saturated with wax and compressed into bricks. They were very good slow burners but if you broke them down into small lumps they worked well as fire starters.

acabrera7 (author)Orngrimm2015-05-07

KNO3 (potassium nitrate) can be found in stump remover, btw

artworker (author)Orngrimm2015-05-07

Potassium Nitrate sounds promising. You got my total focus at "burn like a matchhead, but only MUCH slower". It will be fun to try that. Thanks.

Cambenora (author)2015-05-08

I guess old newspapers would work also. But you wouldn't need to soak them overnight. ;-)

JesterPoet made it! (author)2015-05-08

This showed up in featured Instructables literally 20 minutes after I just threw a bunch of egg cartons in the recycle bin. Fished them out, and today I have fire starters for our next camping trip! Thanks for a great 'ible!

stephenmack (author)2015-05-07

What a great idea to recycle! I will be sure to make these on my next camping trip!

About This Instructable




Bio: I am a hobist with lots of hobies from carpentry to mechanics. There is hardly any thing that i am not interested in.
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