Introduction: Cheap Water Resistant Fire Starters

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Like many other woodworkers I have a decent collection of scrap wood that I can't seem to throw out no matter how small the piece may be and shavings are no exception.

I used to collect the shavings and burn them but I found them to be too light weight and any wind would pick them up and scatter them. They are also susceptible to moisture rendering them completely useless as tinder if they got wet.

By combining the shavings with paraffin wax, it solved both the weight and moisture issues with using shavings as tinder. The wax that encases the shavings makes these fire-starters water resistant and increases their weight substantially ensuring that they don't blow away in even the windiest of conditions.

I always make sure to pack a few in a survival bag when going camping to be ready for emergency situations........... or making delicious smores!


Wood Shavings

Paraffin Wax

Candle Wicks


Hot Glue

Electric Stove Top

Sauce Pan

Small Metal Bowl

Cake Pan Mold

Step 1: Collect the Wood Shavings

The first thing I do is collect some scrap wood shavings. In my shop I generate a ton of shavings so this took no time at all!

The shavings used in this instructable came from a few reclaimed wood candle holders I made.

Step 2: Prepare the Double Boiler

In order to melt the wax I need a double boiler.

Commercially available double boiler systems can be fairly expensive so I make a homemade version using a small metal bowl inside a slightly larger sauce pan. I add about an inch of water into the sauce pan and insert the small metal bowl and turn the electric stove top on high heat.

The electric stove top, the sauce pan, and the small metal bowl were all purchased cheaply from a thrift store.

Step 3: Prepare the Paraffin Wax

While waiting for the water to boil I prepare the paraffin wax.

I break up the block of paraffin wax into small pieces about an inch big. This step is optional, but I have found that the wax melts faster when broken into small pieces as opposed to a solid block.

Once the water has come to a boil, add the chunks of paraffin wax to the double boiler and allow it to melt completely.

**Pro Tip**

If you don't have a block of paraffin wax, old candles that are too short to burn are a fantastic source of free/cheap paraffin wax

Step 4: Adding the Wicks to the Mold

While waiting for the wax to completely melt I add the candle wicks to the mold. The mold I am using for this is a pound cake mold purchased from a thrift store.

I cut the candle wicks into approximately 2 inch long strips and secured them to the bottom of the mold using hot glue. You could also use melted wax to secure the wicks, but hot glue sets faster.

Don't forget to remove the spider webs the hot glue leaves behind!

**Pro Tip**

Instead of buying pre made candle wicks, make your own by dipping a piece of cotton twine into melted paraffin wax and allow to cool down and solidify. Alternatively you could also use a strip of card board.

Step 5: Packing the Wood Shavings Into the Mold

I use scrap wood shavings collected from previous wood working projects in my shop. I pack them into the mold as tightly as possible. When packing the shavings into the mold, I try and keep the wick as straight as possible.

Step 6: Pouring the Wax

With the wax completely melted, the wicks attached, and the shavings packed tightly into the mold, I can finally pour the wax. I pour it slowly in a circular motion around the wick. This ensures that the mold is filled evenly and all of the wood shavings get completely encased in wax.

You can play around with different ratios of wax to wood and find out which ones you like the best. The ones made in this instructable were roughly a 50/50 mix of paraffin and wood shavings and last around 45 mins.


The small metal bowl used to melt the wax will be hot so be sure to wear an oven mitt!

Step 7: Remove Fire Starters From Mold

After letting the wax sit overnight to harden and completely cool down, I take the firestarters out of the mold. To do this,I flex the mold from the corners and flip it over and give the back of each cavity a few light taps with a rubber mallet to knock them loose.

Step 8: All Finished

The only thing left to do now is to make a campfire and test them out!

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