Making Firestarters




About: I've had a lifelong interest in reducing my impact on the environment, (reducing my footprint so to speak). In my early 20's a few friends and I started a curbstop recycling project called Envirobox. This pr...

This is my first stab at an instructable. This should be fairly simple to follow as I took pictures along the way to illustrate the steps. The firestarters can be used to start a fire in a fireplace, or when you are out camping or have a small bonfire in the backyard. The four items that you need to buy (and collect) are dixie cups or paper cups of some sort, candle wicks which can be purchased at the local craft store, laundry lint and used candle wax obtained from old candles whose wicks are too short to burn etc.

Step 1: The First Step Head Out to Walmart and Purchase Some Small Paper Cups

Typically called "Dixie cups" these will cost about 4 bucks for 200 cups.

Step 2: The Next Step Is Collecting Laundry Lint

If you want you can collect the lint from the laundry for several weeks like I did so that you have lots of lint to work with. We have a dog so we have lots of lint and hair from the laundry.

Step 3: Using the Lint Stuff the Dixie Cups Til They Are Full

You could probably use the lint and debris you collect fromo the vacuum cleaner as well but I use the stuff the dryer. Pack the cups til they are full.

Step 4: Cut Wicks for Each Cup

Using scissors cut the wicking into 1" to 2" segments.

Step 5: Stuff the Wicks Into the Cups

Pretty self-explanatory, tuck the end of the wick material into the cups so that a portion of it hangs out of the cups.

Step 6: Melt the Used Wax (careful Wax Can Get Very Hot on the Stove)

I would recommend that you use a glass pickle jar to melt the wax. This prevents you from ruining one of your good pots. Place the wax to be melted in the glass jar, and place the glass jar in a pot half filled with water. Once the water boils it acts as a double boiler and slowly melts the wax. Be sure to use oven mitts as the glass jar will get hot!

Step 7: Pour Melted Wax Into the Paper Cups

Using the oven mitts (I used those little winter mitts you get at the dollar store) carefully lift the jar out of the water and slowly pour the melted wax into each of the paper cups. When most of the melted wax is poured out return jar containing unmelted wax to the "double boileer" to continue melting the wax. ***Caution*** I found that when the pot boiled off the water and I refilled if that I cracked the jar with the new cold water, perhaps boil the water in a kettle to refill the pot.

Step 8: Ok Now Use the Firestarters

Set up your wood in the fireplace so that there is a place to set your firestarter underneath it. You don't even need to be very good at "teepeeing" the wood, the heat from the firestarter can start a fire even if you are an amateur. Using a BBQ lighter light the wick of the firestarter.

Step 9: Stack Wood Around Your Fire Starter

If you have some kindling you may shove it near the firestarter but as you can see I started this fire with none!

Step 10: And That's It! Enjoy You Fire and the Lack of Frustration in Starting It.

If you come up with some other stuff that would work send me a note here, I know a co-worker of mine uses wood chips, those little cups they serve ketchup in at Wendy's and used wax.



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    46 Discussions

    Part Time

    12 years ago

    I like it. Anyone got suggestions about chemical we could add to the mix to add some color to the fire. In Scouts we made fireplace starters out of pine cones dipped in wax then we stuffed the gaps with a mixture of chemicals and ground wax. The cones burned for 10-15 minutes and added a blue or green hue to the fire. I'm sure it was a copper salt of some kind. Time to do some homework.

    5 replies
    PlantManPart Time

    Reply 11 years ago

    I knew I had seen it somewhere.

    This link has a thorough list of colors

    You don't need to do her water mix for this, just mix in with other ingredients.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    I make fire starters with woodchips and wax, I have made hundreds of them for camping. We want to add color now, but dont know how to go about it. We googled it and found the above site, but dont want to soak our wood chips. Have you tried mixing the chemicals in with the woodchips or wax yourself? and if so, how did it work???

    lemoniePart Time

    Reply 11 years ago

    Sodium will give you yellow, e.g. salt. Copper gives you blues/green. Scrape corrosion from copper pipe Lithium gives you a nice red, but I'm short on suggestions for sources. Although note that the metal atoms need to be rather hot, you're unlikely to produce colour from a relatively cool wax-flame.

    gruaqtPart Time

    Reply 12 years ago

    I think even copper filing would work, in our local "dollar store" they sell a small packet of stuff you burn in your fireplace to make the fire burn in a variety of colors (2 bucks=2 minutes) I came across some old copper tubing this summer and by adding to a bonfire it produced a vivid gren colour for a LONG TIME. Go for it, however does I don't know how healthy if would be to breathe that indoors.


    7 years ago on Step 2

    Nice =) I can get a surplus of this easily enough, being a student and living in a student complex.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Very interesting. Still, I am somewhat reluctant to buy anything for it or do much work, since I get a bunch of firestarters (probably paer impregnated in wax) for about 45 cts.

    nevertheless, I usually poor baking grease from my pans into an empty egg container and save candle scrap for this purpose as well.

    Using lint is new to me. Great idea, Until now I have been putting it in my nest boxes so the birds had an easy start.

    Pinecones indded are very good as well. You can even cook on those on a 'hobo stove'


    8 years ago on Introduction

     I've been experimenting lately with used cooking oil instead of wax. Bacon grease also works and is thicker.

    Another additive is used coffee grounds.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    you can also buy candles second hand at salv army or goodwill. i imagine some will be pretty cheap. The taper candles always look pretty rough to me!


    9 years ago on Step 1

    You could also use a cardboard egg box.  Just cut the egg holders out and fill with wax and lint/sawdust.


    11 years ago on Introduction

    I have made these before with the sawdust and egg cartons too. It seems like a big waste to use paper cups that have never even been used before. Maybe if you would rather use cups than an egg carton, you should save up used coffee cups (from your friends because you, of course, bring your own travel mug with you when you get coffee to go :). ) Good to know that you can use lint instead of sawdust.

    1 reply

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    There is an instructable here that uses newspapers to make seed starting pots.
    Wrap the newspaper around a cup like object, fold the bottom up, tiewith string to hold.
    Add shredded paper, lint, etc. (as above) to the "paper cup".
    That would be better than using brand new and recycles the newspaper buildup.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    i have my own version of fire starting. just tear a sheet paper in to strips, pile it up,put some small candles in (any wax would do), pile kindling over , put o fuse (a strip of paper),and light!!!!!


    10 years ago on Step 10

    I find that egg cartons and pinecones work well. For fancier ones, you can add potpourri and stuff to make them smell nice.

    2 replies

    10 years ago on Introduction

    I find that soaking used wine corks (real corks only) in a jar of 91% rubbing alcohol works well. i generally toss old corks in a pickle jar full of rubbing alcohol and let them soak for a couple days before using.


    My mom always used to melt wax in a coffee can. Do they still make coffee cans? Point being, cans are free and can heat and cool without breaking. Nice instructable!