BBQ Starter Log

A way to get a BBQ going without spraying your Charcoal down with lighter fluid. Improved Version.

It uses 2 ingredients Empty Paper Towel Rolls and Newspaper . Two things that otherwise would go in the Trash or Compost Bin.


1) In early March I published a similar Instructable using TP Rolls and Dryer Lint. I Removed the Instructable from publication a few weeks later as Initial results were not consistent after using the method. I felt the if it didn't work all the time it should not be Published.
2) Original used Dryer Lint, TP Rolls, and Elmer's Glue.
3) This method uses empty Paper Towel Rolls , shredded News Paper, and No Glue

I am being Honest as I will enter this into a Contest but I am not trying to Recycle an Instructable just for a Contest this improved fire starter  has worked consistently for me and I was going to Publish it soon anyway.

TP Rolls are now being used wire storage/management. Most likely Instructable is already made? Either way you just shove you cords and cables through the TP role and can write on the TP roll for labeling. Saves on Cable Ties for Wire/Cable Storage.
Dryer Lint is still being saved but I am waiting until I get enough to make a draft sock. Instructable will be made for this.

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Step 1: Supplies

Main Supplies:

Empty Paper Towel Rolls
A Screw , Pick, or something to make a hole

Optional but Recommended:

Paper Shredder ( I use a old strip shredder and would probably recommend it rather than a confetti shredder but you could give it a shot )

Step 2: Cutting Corners

You are going to cut the ends to make 8 Flaps.
I originally did 4 flaps and used Elmers Glue but realized it is just a waste of time and supplies when it is not needed.

Make cuts about 1 1/2" deep and 12 and 6 o clock and rotate 90º and repeat then cut between those cuts and repeat the whole 12/6  90º thing.

Repeat on other End

Step 3: Fold Over End

Fold the ends in.

Don't worry if there is a gap in the middle as the News Paper will push the flaps back down.

Step 4: Fill With Shredded News Paper

I already had the News Paper Shredded so I didn't make a step for that. But do I really need to? Shred like you would Shred any other type of paper , don't do to many sheets at a time but you should no your shredder better than me. Just Shred.

Pack in Tube with shredded News Paper . You can pack it down good as this helps later when you poke the holes by keeping the sides of the tube from collapsing. The just fold down flaps of other side. You will now have a filled tube.

You should do this on a table or easy to clean surface as shredded news paper does get everywhere.

I shred News paper all at once and store in Plastic bags until I am making a Batch of Fire Starters.

Step 5: Making Air Holes

Take your screw or other sharp object and poke holes around the tube. I try to space evenly but it is not necessary just try to avoid the seams of the tube. The more holes the better.

I also use the holes to squirt lighter fluid in. While I would like to omit the fluid all together it makes it go up real good and I look at it as I am only using it on the fire starter so I am not spraying all over the charcoal. By the time the coals are good the tube is beyond ash. I will eventually try to make a more natural lighter fluid to use. Bacon Drippings and a Bottle of Corn would probably work well but that's for another Instructable.

Step 6: Finished Fire Starter Log and It's Use

That It.

How to Use:

I squirt lighter fluid in some of the holes and then squirt a little on the tube itself when on the coal rack. I then cover the log with Lump Charcoal. and light from under the rack, It will immediately catch, and gets those charcoals ready without dousing you coals with lighter fluid.


I highly recommend that if you use Briquets currently you switch to Lump Charcoal. You will not be disappointed! I am not going to give recommendations on Brands as this isn't the place , there are many sites that review and rate Lump Charcoal. I will say once you use Lump you will never go back to Briquets.  Read before you buy but Expensive does not mean better by any means in the World of Lump Charcoal I paid $6 for an 8lb bag at Kmart and it blows away much more expensive stuff I have tried so read up but give it a try and of course use the Fire Start Log!

Possible Changes to this:
I was thinking of pre soaking with fluid putting in a plastic bag and storing it in a metal .50 cal ammo can. I have not done this yet and would not put it in an Instructable either way because if you cut corners and didn't store it properly it could be Bad! But the idea would be you have a truly ready to go starter.

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    11 Discussions


    6 years ago on Introduction

    No, I don't notice it at all and I just got done cooking chicken. I am trying to avoid spraying lighter fluid on the charcoals. By dousing the roll it get a nice fire going by the time the charcoals ash up nice the roll is gone and the only thing burning is the coals. I still would like to get it without using fluid but this was to get rid of waste anyway. I am sure I could wrap the news paper within newspaper and make a log but then I would still have Paper Towel rolls left over and I want to get rid of them as well.

    3 replies

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Gunther, what you created in genius, in stead of using lighter fluid you might want to consider using camphor. you can fill the cylinder with camphor dust/granules as well as with the shreds of paper...from my mini research, camphor is natural it comes from a tree.


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    I looked up the Camphor oil and it seems really expensive for this purpose. I like the idea of using a natural fluid to help get it going but the price seems like that would be prohibitive. Ideally I still think the best would get the first part of a moonshine batch that normally gets discarded. I would think they would be happy to give it a way or sell it for a small fee. Unfortunately I don't know any moonshiners and don't know about legality of even purchasing the first not for human consumption part of a batch even if it was only to use as lighter fluid.


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    One more thing, in the cylinder holes you can place strips of cloth soaked in camphor oil (camphor mixed in some cooking oil) as wicks.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Why not just use a charcoal chimney starter? Seems that would save you time and mess and would definitely be safer than leaving tubes of paper soaked in lighter fluid laying around.

    1 reply

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    I definitely could but the idea was to utilize stuff that gets thrown that could be reused. I currently soak them before using them allow I do plan on trying them pre soaked when I get a metal ammo can.


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Yes, Walmart PART # 001637221. I have edited the last step of Instructable with an Image of the BBQ Lighter Fluid as well. Sorry, for any confusion.


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    I am using Grill Master ( walmart ) Odorless. It is still petroleum based I am sure but again only doing the log.