Introduction: Waterproof Dryer Lint Fire-Starter

Picture of Waterproof Dryer Lint Fire-Starter

 How to make your very own waterproof dryer lint fire-starter, for free.

Using only household items you can make a 1 oz waterproof fire-starter that burns for 15 minutes.  It's perfect for camping, backpacking, or even your backyard fire pit.  No need to buy fancy fire starter logs, here you'll need to gather a few household items that would have otherwise been thrown in trash.

Step 1: Step 1 - Gather Materials

Picture of Step 1 - Gather Materials

 First, gather a few materials from around the house.

1. Dryer lint
2. An empty egg carton
3. Old Candle Stubs (or in my case, a box of canning wax - $3*)
4. Dental floss
5. Scissors
6. New Belgium beer (not required, but hey, that's how it happened)

*Available at your local hardware store

Step 2: Step 2 - Cut the Wax

Picture of Step 2 - Cut the Wax

 Whether using old candle stubs or bars of canning wax, cut them into small strips/chunks so they can be more easily melted.

Step 3: Step 3 - Fill Egg Carton With Dryer Lint

Picture of Step 3 - Fill Egg Carton With Dryer Lint

 Take your dryer lint and fill each compartment.  Stuff a fair amount into each as it will prolong burning time.

Step 4: Step 4 - Cut and Fold Compartment

Picture of Step 4 - Cut and Fold Compartment

 Using the scissors, cut each compartment and fold the ends of each on top of each other.

Step 5: Step 5 - Tie Each Compartment With Dental Floss

Picture of Step 5 - Tie Each Compartment With Dental Floss

 Using dental floss (or any disposable string), tie each fire-starter allowing for a few inches of additional length.

Step 6: Step 6 - Melt Wax

Picture of Step 6 - Melt Wax

Drop your wax pieces into a disposable glass jar (or empty aluminum can) and place it into a boiling pot of water.  Keep the water level low enough so the jar or can doesn't tip over.  Once the water boils, you should have fully melted wax in a few minutes.

Step 7: Step 7 - Lower Fire-Starters Into Jar or Can

Picture of Step 7 - Lower Fire-Starters Into Jar or Can

 Turning off your burner, you can now lower the fire-starters into the jar or can of melted wax using the length of dental floss.  Make sure the fire-starters are fully submerged until bubbles stop rising to the surface.  Note - It may help to use an additional utensil to push them below the wax line.

Step 8: Step 8 - Let Fire-Starters Dry

Picture of Step 8 - Let Fire-Starters Dry

Drizzle any remaining wax onto the fire-starters.  This will help ensure waterproofing.  Let the fire-starters fully dry.  I placed them on a paper towel to prevent a messy cleanup.  After about an hour or two, they should be rock solid.

Step 9: Step 9 - Light Your Fire-Starter

Picture of Step 9 - Light Your Fire-Starter

 Now that they have dried, your fire-starters are ready to go.  Just light a corner and bask in the glory.  My initial test had a burn time of 15 minutes.

I'm a long time lover of this site and it's my first post..  The goal here was to take items around the house that would have otherwise wound up in a landfill and turn them into something useful.  Hope you enjoy.


Bad-Robot (author)2017-03-04

That's a lot of work when a cotton ball with some petroleum jelly has always worked for me.

Dryer lint never worked for me because of the mixed materials.

cdominic (author)2015-07-17

will beeswax work?

mumsie91 (author)cdominic2016-11-23


laresekae (author)2016-10-26

Of all the "Home trash" fire starter tricks I've tried, this is by far the most effective and reliable in practice. I use egg cartons, lint, and wax... just place 4-6 'eggs' in strategic positions (where it won't just drip straight into the ground, but rather either puddle on some wood or drip from one piece onto another) in the firewood and get lighting. Yes, you still need some tinder, and plenty of kindling. You just won't have to babysit it nearly as much.

HopelessHack (author)2016-06-17

1) I sometimes use the little, paper ‘Dixie’ mouthwash cups
instead of egg cartons. If you do use
egg cartons, be sure and cut them apart into individual ‘cups’ BEFORE
pouring. Otherwise, you’ll have a hard
time cutting through the hardened wax!

2) Setting your ‘cups’ on a cookie sheet lined with either
parchment or wax paper makes clean-up much easier.

3) You can cheaply purchase used pots and pans at any thrift store.

4) My favorite setup for melting wax is a (dedicated) 2 cup,
glass measuring cup set in a pan of boiling water, elevated on canning jar
lids. After you are through with the
pouring, let the cup cool to room temperature, and then place it in your
freezer. The wax will chip off much

LightsAction made it! (author)2016-04-28

This Instructable was the basis for the hundreds of firestarters I've made now. I altered a bit, using a combo of sawdust and lint and didn't tie off with strings. I usually leave one corner of the paper intact so I have a place to light. I use the firestarters primarily to light a wood-burning camping stove. In one of the photos below, you can see some experiments I'm doing with hemp string dipped in wax.

Note: I totally ruined a saucepan. You may want to have a dedicated one if you are melting wax in a glass jar in the boiling water - the wax inevitably gets into the water and coats the pan.

itsruthanitha (author)2016-03-04

Really nice post, Thanks for sharing. A Great Place to find Survival Tools, resource you need to survive and thrive in any situation. I found this discount code. Use this code "PD10"and save 10%.

by-the-sea (author)2016-01-08

been living in cornwall for about four years now and use these for long walks along the coast but never thought to use lint to dip them with so I say thank you to you sir and happy camping

cshireman (author)2015-12-25

I made a couple of these yesterday from some candles that had burned out and whatever was in the dryer. They worked beautifully and got our Christmas morning fire going in no time. Thanks!

cshireman (author)2015-12-25

I made a couple of these yesterday from some candles that had burned out and whatever was in the dryer. They worked beautifully and got our Christmas morning fire going in no time. Thanks!

Mikagussler made it! (author)2015-12-25

These work pretty well, although I used pieces of paper from old homework and such instead of egg carton.

SidneyP1 (author)2015-12-20

I like the part about the beer. I have that in many of my recipes, but it doesn't get put into the pot, heh heh.

shambuda2000 made it! (author)2014-10-06

These things work great!

THEMONEY (author)shambuda20002015-11-09

Really cool pouring tool! (But you knew that!)

Rebel-in-Oz (author)2015-10-24

just a bit of advice... if you have pets, I have two Jacky's and I often wash their bedding... trust me when I say you do not NOT want dog hair in the lint you use to start your fire.. it stinks something awful!

bcavaciuti (author)2013-04-30

nice c: I made some myself and experimented with Pine resin as well as wax and the resin balls burned for a lot longer and i think hotter though it was a bit harder to light(had to use my jet lighter). i still haven't managed to light one with sparks or even matches though which i want so it can go in my survival kit and function without the jet lighter. i haven't tried putting them in the centre of a ball of lint which might work.

Rebel-in-Oz (author)bcavaciuti2015-10-24

use the pine resin first, dip each starter a few times then finish off with a dip or two in wax, the wax will catch much easier and get the resin burning.

werecat (author)2013-08-27

for the people having trouble finding paper egg cartons: I don't know if you have an Aldi grocery store in your area, but they have the paper egg cartons. I think Save a lot has the 30ct medium egg flats with the paper bottoms as well. :)

tjohnston12 (author)werecat2014-06-04

Couldn't someone just use toilet paper tubes or cut up paper towel tubes? Might be more work to close them but that's what I'm going to try. :)

vtbeachldy (author)tjohnston122015-09-14

yes. As you asked this a year ago, I assume you've tried it already. How did it work?

Opinel (author)2015-07-20

If you wrap four strike anywhere matches in an unrolled cotton ball, dip in wax, wrap in cotton, dip in wax, and cover in fire paste it burns for around 25 minutes

dana.swift.3 (author)2015-01-27

I just got done making a batch using the paper (like cupcake cups) from an empty Danish butter cookie tin. I doubled the cups, put the lint in and then poured the wax into the lint. I let them dry and then slid three into 2 tall medicine bottles. While the bottles aren't waterproof, they keep three starters together (one bottle for my wife's car bag and one for my car bag). I will be making more of these to put in my house kit and our BoB. I keep all my fire starting kits in freezer grade zip lock bags, but I will still use medicine bottles as they hold three of these neatly together. I actually think you could cut them in 1/2 or 1/4 depending how dry and small your tinder was. Craft stores sell large blocks of wax inexpensively - just use a double boiler to melt it for safety (I used a tin can for easy clean-up in a pot of boiling water and just used pliers to pour it once it was liquid).

neiled_it (author)2013-02-11

Another green idea is using plastic bags as to seal them like in this video. They are super easy to make and super compact

trisha.logan (author)neiled_it2014-09-13

I watched your video and just was wondering one thing with your fire starters,, you don't really use wax which seems to me would make the fire starters burn longer even though they both are waterproof. Does it make a difference?

neiled_it (author)trisha.logan2014-09-13

In the video I didn't have any fire starters readily available so I just used a cotton ball for the video. You are right some sort of wax or gel works well when combined with cotton balls. Thanks for watching.

trisha.logan (author)neiled_it2014-09-14

Gotcha! Thanks!

rwood10 (author)2014-07-20

I make mine this way, I put the lint on the eggs container, I pour a nice amount of wax in the container let cool and cut all the sections apart. Not so messy.

really spectacular!

le-Sid (author)2014-05-12

I guess I'll try them as a charcoal bbq starter... more to follow ^-^

shouldhavezagged (author)2014-01-07

Made five dozen of these last night! (Blogged here: Super overkill for what we need (starting fires at home in the fireplace) but now I have gifts for my camper friends!

rosewood513 (author)2013-12-15

I would use a can instead of glass since the glass can crack during the cooking.

werecat (author)2013-08-27

you know, I was just thinking... I'm making up and giving emergency/first aid packs for Solstice this year. I'm in the area of the Illinois River that had such devastating flooding in April so I am thinking that the packs would be very appropriate since so many people got out with only the clothes on their backs. I am going to have to make some of these to include in the bundles I give at Solstice.

JanisSpear (author)2013-05-23

This is fantastic. I am going to make my own tomorrow. Thanks for sharing.

eclark9 (author)2013-02-23

Old Cotton Balls are good to use as well...

kz1 (author)2012-12-19

If you REALLY want to go green (or maybe turn green), go with bellybutton lint, used floss, and ear wax. eeeeew! :>) Now THAT's recycling.

KimberlyOC (author)2012-10-14

Love this! We do a similar version to this one and use broken crayons as well as old bits of candles. :) Thanks for sharing.

BLUEBLOBS2 (author)2012-07-04

Awesome ible!! These make a great alternative to those expensive store-bought fire starters. i can hardly believe how long they lasted. I am currently making some of these. I have not finished yet, because I still need to buy some canning wax to finish it up. When I am done I will post a pic. I have a question. Could fishing line be a formidable replacement for dental floss? I was just wondering because my dental floss is a little it on the expensive side...

salazam (author)2012-03-30

Every time I clean the dryer filter I think, "There's gotta be some use for this!" So I checked here of course. My second option would have been to use it as stuffing for pillows, but I think lint is too fine for that (they'd just be dust-bombs).

I also happen to keep scented candles that have burnt past the wick and I usually just put them on the furnace to melt and make it smell nice... problem is I have a floor furnace and have kicked them on accident on multiple occasion. I'm glad I can take both my obsessive collections and combine them into something useful that also feeds my pyromania!!!

Myklknife (author)2012-03-04

I've used these for years. The longest burn time I've gotten out of them is 22 minutes. The one thing I do different is as it's cooling I add a bit of dry lint to the top to take a spark from a firesteel more easily.

fantasyfunfaces (author)2012-03-02

Just made these after seeing your post...going camping next weekend and can't wait to use them! Thanks!!

amandaggogo (author)2012-01-01

Most likely will be making some of these, We have so much lint!
Great instructable!

orion4713111 (author)2010-08-16

i made the same things but i used an easier method. i simply poured the melted wax INTO each lint-filled cup. after the wax cooled, i cut each cup apart. no need to fold the edges OR wrap with floss. also, you won't need to use a paper towel blotter as the carton itself absorbs most excess wax. i'd probably recommend setting the carton on some old newspaper for the pour though. these fire-starters are awesome! only problem is, now i can't find the egg cartons made from paper anymore, they're all styrofoam...

moxiepurple (author)orion47131112011-10-02

We buy paper egg cartons from Tractor Supply for .49 cents to sell our chicken eggs in if you can't find them anywhere else. You could try toilet paper or paper towel cylinders as well.

Aaronius (author)2011-09-28

Good Firestarter. I add sawdust as well for a hotter burn.

jwystup (author)2010-08-14

These are A-MAZ-ING! Started the fire like magic. I mean, we weren't so much "roughing it", we were just camping out at a campgrounds with dry wood and a fire pit and these were stored in the car. But it was so easy!! When I was making them, my boyfriend thought I was crazy. But after it started the fire on the first try, he was telling his friends all about how awesome it was ;) Great instructable!

At29035ft (author)jwystup2011-09-15

love it.

holderar (author)2011-07-25

I made a dozen last year when I first saw the article. They worked so well I saved so much lint this year that I could make 36. This time I used leftover bits of yarn to tie them up since my wife has an unlimited supply.

the heavier the rain the more of them you use at once I guess :)

dlarribas (author)holderar2011-09-04

Yarn is a great idea. I don't have a lot of floss, but my mom has literally a shed full of yarn.

shirley ujest (author)2011-08-09

I love this! I always have lint and various old candles. Dixie cups would work too.


RocketST (author)2011-06-09

We've made these for years in Girl Scouts. As a leader, they're fun projects with either dryer lint or sawdusts--and used with a charcoal chimney--will get you a usable fire in about 5 minutes... Awesome! Thanks for sharing!

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