Funky Fire Starters

Reader Contribution by Heidi Hunt
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It’s fall and the smell of dried leaves and wood smoke fill the air. Whether you have a woodstove to heat your home or just occasionally use a fireplace, this is the time of year when we think about splitting kindling and laying in a supply of firewood. To get a fire going well, you also need some kind of a fire starter – usually shredded or wadded up paper. But if you are starting a fire outdoors or are concerned that the kindling is not as dry as it could be then paper might not be the best starting material.

For decades, Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts have been making fire starters as a part of their camping readiness kits. Here are a few ways to make your own.

  • Cut a strip of cardboard two inches by six inches. Roll the strip as tightly as you can and tie it with a piece of cotton string with a string tail about six inches long. Dip the cardboard into melted candle wax. After it has cooled, you can cut the tail to an inch. When using, light the wax coated string.
  • Fill cardboard egg cartons with sawdust, or cotton or wool dryer lint (do not use synthetic lint as it will melt but not burn). Gently pour melted candle wax onto the sawdust or lint. After these have cooled, cut the individual egg cups apart. To make these easier to light, you can put a birthday candle in the middle of each egg holder.
  • Let a few of your corn cobs from corn-on-the-cob dry completely. Cut or break the cob into two-inch chunks. Tie a string around the cob piece and dip the cob into melted candle wax. 

Store the cooled fire starters in a plastic closable bag to keep moisture out. When building your fire, nestle a fire starter under your kindling and light it. The fire starter will burn long enough to get the most stubborn pile to start and is fairly immune to gentle breezes.

If you like the idea of these sturdy fire starters, but would prefer to buy rather than make them, these might be just what you are looking for. Cob Lites and Cowboy Cob Brand All Natural Fire Starters are made with paraffin and dried corn cobs. And Nerman-Lockhart uses recycled wood and the ends of church candles for their Holy Smokes Firestarters.