You’ve all seen it before; some idiot pouring gasoline on a pile of wood to get a fire started then **poof!** Worse yet, turpentine, lighter fluid, paint thinner, and any other flammable liquid people can get their hands on. Without going into the obvious reason not to use any of these methods mentioned above; fire safety, wildfire spread, personal injury, toxic fumes, combustion, just to mention a few. DON’T DO IT!!!! There are tons of other ways you can get that inner pyro on without putting yourself and others in danger, and lets not forget our environmental impact.
If you think using charcoal is a good option… think again.
Charcoal in any way or form is not considered as a renewable energy source.
Charcoal processing is not environmentally friendly and it does not replenish itself.
Charcoal processing can create deforestation, desertification, and emission of smoke that can create health problems.
The burning of charcoal for cooking/heating produces an abundance of ashes.
Why make fire starters when you can just go to the store and buy them?
1) It’s cheap
2) It’s easy
3) It’s natural and safe for the environment
4) Perfect 4-H, Boy Scouts/Girl Scouts, or other child activity to take part in
5) Makes great gifts
7) Easy to find supplies when in a pinch
8) Did I mention it’s cheap? As in almost free cheap
Disclaimer: I did not invent these ideas, nor can a source take credit for any of them. Never start a fire without adult supervision or without a means to put the fire out. When working with hot wax, take every safety precaution possible. This post is for information only.
Here is a list of four easy, cheap, DIY fire starters. We made all four with my 4-H club this week and had a ball. We also rated each one with different categories: ease of making, ease of finding supplies, how easily it caught fire, duration of the burn, etc. I will share the results for each one next to the pictures. We had 10 children ages 7-19 make all four types of fire starters in under 30 mins so this is a fairly quick and easy project.
Newspaper Fire Starters
Twisted Newspaper Fire Starter:
Tightly roll a sheet of newspaper, bend it in half, twist the ends together, and fasten with twine. Keep a basket full by the hearth and you’ll always be ready to heat things up.
*** This was the easiest to make, supplies were readily available and free, it started fairly easy as well but the burn time did not rate high with the kids. We have to keep blowing on the flame and relighting. It is perfect for little ones to make or if you’re in a pinch for time.
Toilet Paper Roll Fire Starters
Toilet Paper Roll Fire Starters
Directions are as follows:
- Empty toilet paper rolls
- Dryer lint and or newspaper ( we used both)
- Stuff lint and or newspaper into rolls
- Wrap in wax paper like a tootsie roll and twist ends
- Save and use to start a campfire
*** This was a easy fire starter to make as well, supplies were readily available and easy for little hands to assemble. It lit on fire quickly but the fire did start to die off when it reached the tube a little and took some blowing on. Burn time was just a couple of minutes. You can make these look pretty in a basket for gifts
Fire Starter Wafers
Face Cleaner Fire Starter Wafers
These cotton fire-starting wafers are much easier to make, safer to stash in an emergency kit or go bag, and all you need to make them is a candle and some cosmetic cotton pads from your local drug store or pharmacy.
Making the wafers is easy: just put the candle into a pan you don’t mind getting some wax in, and turn up the heat, low and slow. Wait until you have about an 1/8 to 1/4-inch of liquid wax in the bottom of the pan. Then use some tweezers or tongs to put a few cotton pads at the bottom of the pan, all in one layer so they don’t overlap. In a few seconds, they’ll absorb a good bit of the wax, but just enough to coat the outside. Take them out and let them cool on a sheet of wax paper completely before tossing them into a zipper bag. That’s all there is to it. The next time you need to start a fire quickly, just grab one of the pads, tear it open partially to expose the cotton fibers inside, and light it up
**** This was a favorite for ease of making with wax, lighting and duration of burn. Perfect to take camping or to keep in Bug Out Bags When testing one wafer stayed lit for over 5 mins, this is a win in our book!
and we saved the best for last.
Egg Carton Fire Starters
- Empty CARDBOARD Egg Carton (NO Styrofoam)
- Wood Shavings or Dryer Lint
- Wax (old candles, bees wax, gulf wax)
- Fill each egg container with lint or wood chips
- Melt wax in a microwave safe container, double broiler on stove top, or in a old tin can
- Pour wax over lint/chips just to cover. Let dry.
- When ready to use pull off individual cup and use to start fire
This was our favorite for burn time, ease of starting. It burned for over ten minutes well past the time our fire lit and stayed lit. The cups are easy to store and keep by fireplace.