Introduction: Make a Waterproof Fire Starter

About: Photography teacher, woodworker, and general repair man

Fire starters are just handy to have around while out camping. A good fire starter should be waterproof for good measure (though I still carry mine in a plastic bag) and fairly wind resistant. The ability to produce a large, hot flame for an extended period of time is also the mark of a quality fire starter.

You can buy fire starters online. Many companies make them but I have yet to find one that is inexpensive and lives up to my standards. The cheap Coghlan variety from Walmart aren’t wind resistant, barely produce a meaningful flame, and require far more than one stick to get a fire started. Many other manufacturers starters suffer from the same issue. I refuse to pay for quality made fire starters that would meet my expectations. Why should I pay $3+ per pack of starters for something that I can make out of stuff I have just lying around the house? This tutorial will teach you how to make a fire starter that is water resistant, decently wind resistant, and has a large flame that lasts up to 15 minutes! To make these DIY fire starters, you’ll need a paper egg carton, paraffin wax, and either dryer lint, wood shavings, or newspaper (I personally use all three at the same time).

(check out our campfire ribs to cook after you light your fire with these or support our Cub Scout !)

Step 1: Collect Your Wax

My wife has a ton of those scented wax warmers so I just ran around the house dumping the spent wax into a paper cup (an old jar works a bit better because it is heavier but I didn't want to have to clean out a jar). If you don’t have wax warmers, old candles also work well.

Old crayons MAY work in a pinch but I’m not certain as I haven’t tried it. Crayon wax melts between 120 and 140 degrees where paraffin melts at about 100 degrees. I’m not certain that a fire starter gets hot enough to melt the wax in the early stages of ignition. I suppose you could not fill your egg carton fully so there is more wax free fuel to initially start your fire starter.

Step 2: Melt Your Wax

I put the cup of hardened wax into an old pot with boiling water and let it melt for 10-15 minutes.

*note: use a pan that you don't care about. There is a good chance that you will get some wax in your pan and it can be a pain to clean out. I doubt small amounts will hurt your plumbing but I have old pipes and don't want to risk it.

Step 3: Prepare the Substrate, Pour in the Wax

Place lint, newspaper, and/or wood into the egg wells. Fill them up and lightly tamp them down. You want them to be firm but not rock hard, like the density of a rolled sock.

Pour your wax over over your substrate. I like to stir the substrate with the melted wax but it’s an unneeded step. I think it helps coat everything evenly and removes air bubbles.Then, tamp everything down to make a nice compact puck.

I have seen some variants of this style of fire starter fold the corners over so that the presentation aspect is better. I don't like to do that. If you leave the corners sticking up these are far easier to light, even in windy conditions.

Step 4: Let the Wax Solidify and Cut Your Egg Carton

Let the wax solidify and use tin snips to cut your egg carton into individual sections. You’re done! Store your fire starters in a cool location.

To light your fire starter, light each corner. expect your fire starter to last roughly 10-15 minutes or until the fire is fully started.

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