Instructables

Waterproof Dryer Lint Fire-Starter

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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.
 
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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
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 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
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 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
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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.
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rwood1012 days ago

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.

SoHa SMART25 days ago

really spectacular!

werecat11 months ago
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. :)

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. :)

le-Sid2 months ago

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

Made five dozen of these last night! (Blogged here: http://wp.me/pkpUV-si) Super overkill for what we need (starting fires at home in the fireplace) but now I have gifts for my camper friends!
rosewood5137 months ago
I would use a can instead of glass since the glass can crack during the cooking.
werecat11 months ago
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.
JanisSpear1 year ago
This is fantastic. I am going to make my own tomorrow. Thanks for sharing.
bcavaciuti1 year ago
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.
eclark91 year ago
Old Cotton Balls are good to use as well...
neiled_it1 year ago
Another green idea is using plastic bags as to seal them like in this video. They are super easy to make and super compact

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qGJHNf_gXk4&feature=youtube_gdata_player
kz11 year ago
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.
KimberlyOC1 year ago
Love this! We do a similar version to this one and use broken crayons as well as old bits of candles. :) Thanks for sharing.
BLUEBLOBS22 years ago
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...
-BLUEBLOBS2
salazam2 years ago
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!!!
Myklknife2 years ago
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.
Just made these after seeing your post...going camping next weekend and can't wait to use them! Thanks!!
amandaggogo2 years ago
Most likely will be making some of these, We have so much lint!
Great instructable!
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...
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.
Aaronius2 years ago
Good Firestarter. I add sawdust as well for a hotter burn.
jwystup3 years ago
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)  jwystup2 years ago
love it.
holderar3 years ago
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 :)
Yarn is a great idea. I don't have a lot of floss, but my mom has literally a shed full of yarn.
I love this! I always have lint and various old candles. Dixie cups would work too.


Thanks!
RocketST3 years ago
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!
shadnlyd3 years ago
Love these things! They work like a charm!
brickman933 years ago
i made these, and had some left over wax. try rolling up some cotton t-shirt, and dunk it in the wax, works great.
Thanks, I'm going to give these a shot. I tried something like this with empty toilet paper tubes and lint. But they didn't work as well as I'd hoped. Maybe I'll try those again with wax too. The toilet paper tube version (sans wax coating) just kinda smoldered and smoked even when i used a bic lighter on it. It sounds like these give a steadier flame, looking forward to trying them. I wonder if there would be any variant that would start with a striking steel spark. now that would be something. hmmmmm....
great instructable, one tip would be to pour wax all over the lint before closing it up, it would soak up a lot and last a lot longer.
At29035ft (author)  bobthebanana4 years ago
Yes indeed, you want to make sure the lint soaks up the wax.  Fortunately, "closing it up" doesn't really create a full seal but it does make a helpful enclosure once the wax hardens.
Just made these but with sawdust because I always have tons around. Doesnt sop up the wax as good but burned for 10 minutes and got my fire going. Cool idea
sisar4 years ago
So why cant we just carry a candle instead of this? it can start a fire and lights up just fine under damp conditions. nice inscrutable none the less! ~ cheerio
At29035ft (author)  sisar4 years ago
A candle will certainly start a fire, but then again, so will a Bic lighter. The idea for this project is to create a flame with some substance, a flame that will ensure an easy light. As you can see from the photos/video, you get a significant flame to work with here, essential to success in damp or less than ideal conditions.
also, this is using materials that will just end up in a land fill if not put to a better use. i plan to make these ant take them camping.
I agree, that this is more useful to humans. However, I doubt that the environment would be better served if we light the stuff on fire, as opposed to allowing microorganisms to consume it (obviously excluding the wax), possibly producing nutrients for life.

Regardless, I was looking for a good recipe for waterproof firestarters, and this one worked perfectly.

I'll be taking these camping for sure, too.
Tinker393 years ago
Maybe a 2 inch piece of rope (hemp, sisal, jute) with a frayed end added before pouring wax, then sewing a small piece of steel wool into the frayed end would help with the flint/steel method.
phillyrocks3 years ago
This is pretty awesome I got a 10 minute burn time. The only problem is it doesn't take a spark from flint and steel.
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