Mini Project #9: DIY Wax & Cotton Ball Fire Starters

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About: Hi I'm Alex and I love to make stuff! I mainly work with different metals but I also love to explore new (to me) materials and dabble in woodworking, jewelry, knife making, design and many more.

Intro: Mini Project #9: DIY Wax & Cotton Ball Fire Starters

Hi Instructables Community,

this week we are making some simple and cheap fire starters from materials that will cost you almost nothing. They are very easy to make and the finished fire starts will be relatively small (slightly larger then a tea light). The cool thing about these fire starters is that they burn extremely long and that you can adjust the size of the flame to your requirements.

If you like this Instructable please vote, fav, share, subscribe & comment. I have just started my own Blog which you can visit here. You can also check my YouTube, Facebook and Twitter sites for current and upcoming projects.

I would also love to see pictures of the fire starters you made or hear about your suggestions for future projects.

Take care & stay safe

Cheers Alex

Step 1: Materials and Tools Needed

Materials:
  1. Cardboard tube from a toilet paper roll ($This is free$)
  2. Candle wax (This can be free if you use wax leftovers & candle stumps)
  3. Cotton balls (You can use dryer lint which is free - I use cotton for consistency)
  4. (Optional - Short piece of duct tape)
Tools:
  1. A utility knife
  2. Measuring tape
  3. A pencil
  4. A heat source (I'm using a camping stove in my work shop)
  5. A metal or heat resistant pot to melt the wax

Step 2: Optional Step

If you have a nice flat surface you wont have to do this.

  1. Cut a short piece of duct tape from the roll.
  2. Use this piece to seal off one end of the cardboard tube.

Step 3: Before You Fill the Tube

  1. Put your wax on your heat source and start with some medium heat.
  2. You can use a stirring stick whilst the wax is melting. I urge you always monitor the wax during the melting process. If you see smoke rising from the wax reduce the heat and/or remove the pot from the heat source.
  3. Whilst the wax is melting you can start to stuff the cardboard tube with cotton balls. Although you want a lot of cotton in there avoid to add too much. In the end you should be still able to easily compress the cotton.

Step 4: Fill and Cool Down

Use a heat resistant work surface for the following steps.

  1. Once the wax is molten start to pour it slowly into the cardboard tube.
  2. Take your time as you will see that the wax will work its way down slowly. You can monitor this through the stains that are forming on the outside of the cardboard tube. (I suggest you keep your heat source on and put the pot back on in between pours to maintain a high temperature) - I strongly advise you to wear safety equipment at this stage such as gloves and safety glasses. Hot wax can easily cause 1st & 2nd degree burns
  3. Once you see wax flowing out at the bottom of the tube stop pouring in more wax. Be prepared that more wax will flow out. Once the wax has cooled down you can simply scrape it off and reuse it for another project.
  4. Let the whole tube cool down for at least one hour before moving to the next step.

Step 5: Cutting

  1. Use your measuring tape and pencil to mark 2cm (3/4") segments.
  2. With your utility knife you can slowly cut off the individual pieces. You should be able to make five fire starters from a single toilet paper roll.

Step 6: Light Your Fire

Whenever you want to use your fire starters simply pull out some cotton fibers from the center and light it with a lighter, matches or ferro rod.

For a larger flame simply pull out more fibers or mash the entire fire starter for a very large burning surface.

The total burn time will depend on the size of flame as well as environmental factors but can be over an hour.

If you like this Instructable please vote, fav, share, subscribe & comment. I have just started my own Blog which you can visit here. You can also check my YouTube, Facebook and Twitter sites for current and upcoming projects.

I would also love to see pictures of the fire starters you made or hear about your suggestions for future projects.

Take care & stay safe

Cheers Alex

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    24 Discussions

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    DirkB10

    2 years ago

    This is cool

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    Amyjustine

    2 years ago

    Wow this one too is great. Can't wait to try this also!

    Tks

    1 reply
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    Alex 2QAmyjustine

    Reply 2 years ago

    Hi Amyjustine,

    thanks a lot and happy making.

    I'd like to see your fire starters so please post a picture of your results.

    Cheers Alex

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    Amyjustine

    2 years ago

    Wow this one too is great. Can't wait to try this also!

    Tks

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    Alex 2Qscrewy1

    Reply 2 years ago

    Hi srewy1, thanks for reading and commenting. I look forward to see how this works out for you so please post a pic once you're done.

    Cheers Alex

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    zulpjj

    2 years ago

    What are the other possible items can be add on for this fire starters?

    3 replies
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    Alex 2Qzulpjj

    Reply 2 years ago

    Hi zulpjj, thanks for reading and commenting. Instead of candle wax (stearin) you can also use parafin, bees wax, old crayons etc.

    As a filler you could use other natural/organic fillers such as cotton, wool ect. instead of the more common viscose (semi-synthetic) cotton balls.

    The tube could be made out of paper, rolled cardboard etc.

    Cheers Alex

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    zulpjjAlex 2Q

    Reply 2 years ago

    tq for your update :-)

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    TeresaM7Alex 2Q

    Reply 2 years ago

    And also, old clothing that you were going to toss out would make good tender. Natural fiber is obviously better. Saw dust or dried twigs, though the twigs wouldn't be so easy to cut. Even paper from your paper shredder, which was my tender of choice when I was camping. Enjoy!

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    Timo Repo

    2 years ago

    This can also be done using egg-packs, cutting them out like rosebuds and dipping to molten candlewax.

    1 reply
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    Alex 2QTimo Repo

    Reply 2 years ago

    Hi TimoR4, you are absolutely right but that's a subject for another Mini Project ;)

    Cheers Alex

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    crafty woman

    2 years ago

    Brilliant use of lint!! I've been trying to think of something for ages!

    1 reply
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    Alex 2Qcrafty woman

    Reply 2 years ago

    Hi crafty woman, thanks for reading and commenting.

    Cheers Alex

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    Taskern

    2 years ago

    Fantastic instructable. Looking forward to making some. Keep up the great work, it is much appreciated.

    Cheers,

    Nathan

    1 reply
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    Alex 2QTaskern

    Reply 2 years ago

    Hi Taskern, thanks a lot for your kind words they are much appreciated.

    Cheers Alex

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    Alex 2Qswagosto

    Reply 2 years ago

    Hi swagosto, thanks for reading and your comment. The fire starters should indeed work well to ignite charcoal for your BBQ.

    Cheers Alex

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    CorgiCritter

    2 years ago

    Pretty impressive. I like it a lot. A 1 hour burn stime is great, considering the size of it.

    1 reply
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    Alex 2QCorgiCritter

    Reply 2 years ago

    Hi CorgiCritter, thanks for reading and commenting.

    Cheers Alex