Introduction: Cooking With Crayons: a Recycled Firestarter

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Ever since getting a free bag of Yooper firestarters during a trip to the Upper Peninsula in Michigan last summer, we've been wanting to make a variation on the theme. Now firestarters aren't rocket science - they're just small waxed bundles of flammable materials. When our kids were in Camp Fire, they learned how to make them with dryer lint and wax, although I remember it was a bit of a protracted process. The Yooper ones are great, and support a wonderful cause, but we sure have a lot of bits of flammable stuff laying around that could be put to good use, so we rounded it all up and came up with our crayon and dyer lint version here, which took all of about ten minutes to make and burned a great deal longer.

These little firestarters will work great on the campfire in the summer, and in the fireplace in the winter. It's a great way to get rid of all those old crayons lying around in boxes, too. So have at it, and have fun! It's wonderfully satisfying to melt crayons together, and even more satisfying to watch them blaze up afterwards!

Step 1: Materials

Materials are pretty easy to source:

  • Crayons and/or old candles
  • Dryer Lint
  • Used dryer sheets
  • Toilet paper tubes
  • Jar
  • Pan
  • tongs

Step 2: Collect Your Materials

Hie thee over to the nearest dryer and harvest some lint, and old dryer sheets. Find that old box of crayons, or little bits of candles that are no longer useful. Fish those empty toilet paper tubes out of the trash.

We started to do a full size tube, and then realized these things burn fast, hot and long, so decided to cut them in half and make mini fire starters, which are a lot easier to throw in backpacks or baskets by the fireplace.

Step 3: Make a Lint Burrito

Make a little lint burrito out of your lint and dryer sheet, fold the ends over and tuck into the half toilet paper tube. The fatter you make your burrito, the more snugly it will fit in the tube, and the better it will stay together when you dunk it in the melted crayon bath. And the better it will burn later, too.

Step 4: Prepare Double Boiler

The best way to melt your crayons or old candles is using a double boiler method, in this case, a mason jar set inside a pan of water. Place your crumbled pieces of candle or whole crayons into the jar, turn on the heat and start stirring. We used some old chopsticks (more recycling!) , so we didn't have to worry about getting wax on utensils.

We started with our bits and pieces of old candles, but soon found that the crayons melted down a lot faster. Just keep stirring and adding more wax bits until you've got a decent amount of melted material in your jar to cover your fire starter. Keep your wax materials nearby so you can keep adding more to the jar as needed.

Step 5: Stir and Coat

Drop in a prepared fire starter, and start stirring! Stir it around inside the jar of melted wax candles/crayons until it's thoroughly coated.

Step 6: Cool It

Pull the coated tube out of your jar with a pair of tongs or your chopsticks and allow it to cool and dry completely on a sheet of newspaper. Melted crayon is very fluid and will run liberally out from your just retrieved dyer lint tube, and it's also pretty hot, as is typical of melted wax. So take the usual precautions to avoid burning yourself or damaging things. If you do drip on the counter, though, it's pretty easy to clean up.

Step 7: Burn It!

Store your firestarters in a watertight container or bag, or throw 'em in the fireplace and light 'em up. They burn long and hot, and are just the thing to get that campfire or fireplace started, not to mention a fun way to get rid of old crayons and clean out the dryer!

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