Introduction: Dryer Lint Fire Starter Twigs
Every year, thousands of house fires are caused by dryer lint. The lint accumulates over time along the inner walls of the dryer’s exhaust system and if not properly maintained, that surplus of lint has the potential to ignite and cause a fire.
To increase the priority of this simple task on your household maintenance schedule, I thought we could take advantage of the combustable properties of lint and use them to start responsible camp fires! These fire starters are not only shaped like twigs, but they are also waterproof, float, and burn long enough to dry out damp kindling. This is a sister project to my portable WOOD STOVE ! Let’s make some dryer lint fire starter twigs!
*This project was inspired by At29035ft's Waterproof Dryer Lint Fire-Starter 'ible from 2010
Step 1: Tools and Materials
There isn’t much you’ll need for this simple project and you might even have the majority or all these items already on hand. (i.e. These are basically free to make ! )
- Dryer Lint
- Bamboo Skewers
- Tea Light Candles
- Tin/Aluminum Foil
- A method for melting the wax (I used an electric heater designed for this purpose, but a double boiler works just as well )
- Scissors (*not pictured )
Step 2: Preparing the Molds and Melting the Wax
Before beginning any of the prep work, start melting the wax by first cutting it into small pieces and heating it indirectly. Either by using an electric heater made specifically for melting wax or by using a double-boiler setup.
Next, prep the molds for the dryer lint fire starter twigs by cutting 2’’ x 4’’ pieces of aluminum foil with scissors.
*As a side note, cutting aluminum foil is a good way to freshen up the edges of your scissors !
Step 3: Preparing the Skewers
Bend the bamboo skewers into irregular twig-like shapes, causing the bent sections to fray. Then, break them into shorter lengths (you should be able to get roughly three twigs out of one skewer ).
Step 4: Molding the Twigs
Start by dipping the bamboo skewers into the molten wax, then roll the skewer coated in molten wax into a pile of dryer lint. The goal is to saturate the dryer lint with the molten wax and to drape it over the bamboo skewer. Once the skewer is covered in wax impregnated lint, wrap it up with one of the prepared aluminum foil pieces and set it aside to cool.
More wax impregnated lint can be added to the skewer by first briefly dipping clumps of lint directly into the molten wax and then by draping the waxed clumps over the skewer.
Step 5: Forming the Twigs
After the dryer lint twig has cooled for a couple of minutes, it should be cool to the touch but still soft, unwrap it from its tin foil molding sheath. While they are still pliable, refine the shape of the twigs with your fingers so that they completely envelop the bamboo skewer. Use your fingers to smooth out any gaps, cracks or imperfections. To ensure that the twigs maintain their shape and to increase their durability, I recommend dipping the twigs briefly into the molten wax after final shaping.
Set the dryer lint fire starter twigs to the side to fully harden. I also suggest batching out the twigs assembly line style whilst consistently checking the temperature of the tin foiled twigs so that they don’t become too hard to form. If they do become rock hard, simply heat them up in their tin foil wrappers with a blow dryer until they become malleable again.
Step 6: Start Responsible Fires!
They’re now ready to use! I hope you enjoyed this remix of an internet survival hack classic! Now go start a responsible fire, that respects your local fire regulations, with your new dryer lint fire starter twigs!
Participated in the
4 years ago
We recently cleaned our dryer and had the vent cleaned because clothes were coming out of the dryer with brown spots as though scorched. I recognized the spot pattern as that of the vent holes on the back of the dryer drum. They were clogged with lint and were a precursor to a fire. Although the lint screen was catching a lot of lint, we discovered that it was not going all the way down into its slot because dryer sheets were caught under it. The lint that escaped clogged the drum holes and the dryer vent pipes. I was going to use a drywall screw to grab the lint in each hole, but the good old shop vac did the job. The dryer vent runs 38 feet with five 90 degree bends, each of which was its own lint trap and it start with a flex tube (which many of the cleaner kits say "don't use with".. We had a professional clean the vent and got much greater air flow out of the outlet flap. I thought of using one of the kits from HomeLowes (our favorite hardware word) but they can only reach 12 feet at most. Rather than buying three or four, and a vacuum cleaner or shop vac attachment, I went the professional route. It was worth the money. The amount of lint that came out was surprisingly large, especially because we had a professional clean the vent two years ago. So, be diligent and do preventive maintenance. Avoid any chance of a fire!
Reply 4 years ago
That sounds like quite the ordeal! But you're absolutely right, being diligent and doing preventative maintenance is essential for avoiding any chance of a fire! I also appreciate that you took the time to share your experience with the community, I hope it will benefit others as well!
4 years ago on Introduction
I did basically the same thing but instead of bamboo skewers, I used wooden matches. And instead of dryer lint, I took sewing cotton and generously wrapped about 2/3 of the match. Then with a tea cup candle directly on the eye of my stove, with the temp set to low as possible, I dipped the sewing cotton wrapped matches directly into the hot wax, placed them on aluminum foil, cooled some, and smoothed over the rough edges. When ready to use simply chip off the wax on the match head and light like a normal match. Strike anywhere matches work much better. Essentially, now you have waterproof/weatherproof matches that burn much much much longer than a typical match. Glad to see someone else is doing things like this, it may save your life OR someone else's life one day. Thank you.
Reply 4 years ago
Great idea about using the strike anywhere matches as the core for these types of fire starters! The only thing I found annoying about my version is that they need an external ignition source.
4 years ago on Step 3
These are great! I teach my outdoor education students how to make them and how to use them as part of their survival kit preparations.
There is one general tip: when you want to collect lint from your dryer, sort your clothing into "natural" and "synthetic" fibers. The cottons and linens make excellent fire starters, but the synthetic fibers do not.
Natural fibers burn easily, but the synthetic fibers melt into a black goo and often will not burn. Although polar fleece seems fluffy and provides a large quantity of lint, when heated it melts as it is made of recycled beverage bottles (plastic).
I also caution against wool lint. It burns fine, but has a distinctive "burnt-hair" smell that is unpleasant to many people. Blue jeans, cotton towels, and cotton tees work the best.
If you have access to sawdust, it also works very well when mixed with parafin wax.
Reply 4 years ago
Thanks for the excellent comment! I should have mentioned that I collected the lint from cotton towel loads. Great tip about the wool lint, something I had never really thought about! I also have no shortage of sawdust for when I run out of lint!
Reply 4 years ago
Or a household of cats. Cat hair lint doesn't smell good either. Oops.