Bacon Infused Fire Lighters

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I'm a total disaster when it comes to lighting fires. My 'best' fail was using no less than 6 commercial firelighters, a whole newspaper and a bunch of bone dry kindling and still not managing to get the fire going successfully.... As a result I'm always looking for ways to make life easier for myself (and less frustrating for my husband) when it comes for lighting fires.

Last summer, after a few smokey camp fire failures I decided I needed something help me out. I don't really want to carry commercial firelighters with us when camping, so cast about for some other options. Inspiration came one morning while cooking birthday breakfast for one of the kids - LOADS of BAAACON. Bacon generates a lot of excess fat. I keep a ramekin beside the pan and tip off any excess whenever necessary. This fat is either thrown out, or occasionally recycled as a bacon candle (not as good as it sounds) but this time I wondered about soaking kindling in it to make some low tech fire sticks that dont require any additional paper to start a fire. Read on to find out how we got on!

Step 1: What You Need

Bacon mmmmmmmm bacon....

Baking dish or tinfoil roasting dish

Ramekin (if you want to store the bacon grease)

Wood for kindling (or offcut chunks)

Axe

Step 2: Preparation

The Wood

Cut your wood into kindling sized pieces. We found after testing that you don't need a whole piece of kindling to effectively start the fire. Smaller sections will do, so if you have little off cuts they might just do the job.

The Fat

Lay the bacon out in the baking dish/roasting pan and cook it in the oven under the grill/broiler. This gives nice clean liquid fat, as opposed to fat with little bits of bacon in it that you get from a frying pan. Not essential but makes everything a little more aesthetically pleasing!

Pour the bacon fat into the ramekin - trying to keep out any bits and pieces - and set aside.

Eat the bacon..mmmmmm delicious.....

Put the bacon fat into a clean baking dish and melt it if necessary. You don't need much heat to do this - I left it out in the sun for a bit!

Step 3: Making the Firelighters

Put the pieces of kindling into the tray, making sure one side is coated with fat. Leave for 12-24 hours and turn, making sure the whole piece of wood is coated in bacon fat.

Repeat until the fat is all/mostly absorbed (can take week or so!)

I did this in summer so left the tray out on the back deck in the sun so the fat stayed melted. I made sure it came inside when it rained! I didn't turn it every day, but made sure I turned it fairly regularly to get a good coating on all sides.

Once all/most of the fat is absorbed, put the kindling in a plastic bag ready for your fire.

Step 4: Using the Firelighters

Light your bacon infused firelighter and lay it in the bottom of the firepit. You will not need any other fire lighting material such as paper or bark. Stack your kindling and logs around it as you would a normal firelighter or paper - make sure you leave spaces for oxygen, fire needs food!

When we did a trial run on these firelighters we were extremely pleased with the results. You do not in fact need a whole piece of kindling to start the fire, so we chopped one length of kindling into 3-4 smaller pieces and used them as firelighters instead. They take a wee bit to light - you might not get the job done with a match - but once they are alight, they burn slow and steady like a candle, giving you plenty of time to get your wood stacked in the most efficiently flammable way.

Sit back and enjoy your fire. Toast marshmallows. Make smores. Ahhhhh summer camping....

We stored our infused kindling in a plastic bag so oil didn't get on other things. This worked well and after 12 months it doesn't smell hinky or anything.

The only downside I can see is that these firelighters don't emit a delicious bacon smell. Actually... that's probably a good thing! Bacon consumption rates would go through the roof!

Step 5: But Wait! There Is More!

The truly awesome feature of these bacon firelighters is that they are essentially waterproof. The little clip above shows us dipping a bit in a bowl of water then lighting it!

Cutting the wood into small chunks before you start soaking them in the bacon fat will increase how waterproof they are - cutting afterwards exposes a face that will absorb water instead of repelling it.

I was pleasantly surprised with how well this worked. The firelighter burns long and slow, giving even the most fire-inept of us a chance to toast our marshmallows this summer :)

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    16 Discussions

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    amachinetech

    4 weeks ago

    I have been making a variation of these for years using strips of either cardboard box from the recycle bin or strips of newspaper. Either one is rolled into a little cinnamon roll and held in place with a small band cut from a towel or toilet paper roll. I go to our local "donate your stuff" thrift store and drop off a 5 gallon bucket for any candles or wax that is available. For 5 bucks I have more wax that I can use in a year. The wax is melted in a thrift store pot over low heat and the rolls are dipped until soaked then set on tin foil to harden. Another 5 gallon bucket holds the finished product next to the fire. When lit they burn for about 4-5 minutes straight and are hot enough to light full size wood.

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    punk chicken

    6 weeks ago

    I'm glad it didn't get smelly after a year. I did something similar with my used fry oil. It went rancid in less than a year and boy was that nasty.

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    jessyratfink

    7 weeks ago

    That is a great idea! And considering how much bacon fat I have in my fridge it would be a good use for it :D

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    bmasiowski

    6 weeks ago

    I've been doing something similar for years. I call them "Bacon Bombs". Great for camping. Dip paper towel, newspaper, paper plates, whatever, in used bacon fat. Roll up, insert into paper tubes from towel etc, if you have them, not necessary. Once the fat hardens they tend to keep their shape. Save to use as kindling for fires. It only takes one match and one BB to start the next one!

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    austin.hall.129794

    6 weeks ago

    If you want to get a better and faster, result regarding absorbtion - I would suggest cutting them into smaller sections about fire lighter size BEFORE soaking in the fat and using a smaller container to submerge the sections of wood - funfact - wood endgrain absorbs more than the split sides as that is the direction of the Xylem (the tubes the tree pulls water up) so capillary action (absorbtion) naturally works better.

    You'll get more bacon fat per lighter thus ensuring a good burn and efficient fire start.

    It's also worth dipping some match heads in the fat as well and laying them out to dry on a bit of wood with the heads not touching anything - this will keep the phosphorous dry so they strick well, even in damp conditions (you can also do this with wax).

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    RCEMaustin.hall.129794

    Reply 6 weeks ago

    I will definitely do that in the future. I just wasnt sure how well they would burn so left them as full sized kindling. Now I know I only need a little bit that is exactly what I'd do.

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    20-Below

    6 weeks ago

    Excellent idea, I have a similar experience. Last year I had a large quantity of paraffin wax to get rid of; old candles, a citronella garden insect repelling candle in a bucket and some medicinal stuff in blocks - 3kg total. I boiled it in a large saucepan on my BBQ ( probably very dangerous but I kept pets and grown-ups away ). Then I added small off-cuts of MDF ( medium density fibreboard - incase it doesn't translate ). The heat drives out the air, and as they boil and then cool it sucks in the wax, just like your's with the oil. The process is a bit like cooking chicken nuggets, they're done when thy stop bubbling. Similar lighting / burning properties and very effective. This made a whole sackful that we kept in a bin by the kindling, lasted a year. Lard is cheap enough that it could perhaps be used as a substitute for surplus fats / oils.... ( look what the lady of the house just handed me as 'surplus' ! )

    Cheese Wax.jpg
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    RCEM20-Below

    Reply 6 weeks ago

    that's a great idea too - probably quicker than leaving it lying out in the sun!

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    Taz-Hood

    6 weeks ago

    This is at once hilarious, informative, practical and well done! You get my vote in the "Fat" contest. I never cook bacon because I don't like dealing with the grease. Do you think one could do a similar project using a block of commercial lard or paraffin? Production-wise, this Instructable is professional quality. Thank you for sharing it!

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    RCEMTaz-Hood

    Reply 6 weeks ago

    Thanks so much! As for the parafin/lard it would be worth giving it a shot!

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    TeryiY

    6 weeks ago on Introduction

    Yes! I read about disposing of used oil and fats correctly and I wondered if I could use any of it like this. Thanks for the information. I like to use wood shavings as well. Works great for lighting our ceramic grill.

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    keets

    7 weeks ago

    Yesterday I was fighting against the flames at the bbq because of the dripping bacon!
    So your firesticks are a good idea!
    I like the idea that it is a non-vegan product :-)

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    RCEMkeets

    Reply 7 weeks ago

    thanks! they work so much better than i ever imagined, but given your comment about the bacon fat fire I shouldnt really have been surprised!