Thursday, July 21, 2011

How to...

...make mostly useful stuff from things you might normally throw out.

This week we are talking about fire starters. We enjoy pausing on our journey down the purple brick road to enjoy family camping trips and hunting seasons. One of the most important parts of camping is the camp fire, but sometimes its the most difficult part to get going. This is especially true when kindling is scarce or the wood is damp.

There are lots of different ways to make fire starters, and this one uses something that you normally throw in the trash:

That's right! It's your dryer lint!!! (And in our case a bit of dog hair. Sorry about that.) It's largely made up of cotton fibers. If you're a mom, it probably also includes shredded tissues, Legos, silly putty, paper clips, bugs and playground pea gravel. That's okay. Just do your best to pick the big stuff out.

Now, I should tell you that this project requires a stove, and involves the pouring of hot wax. Like, really hot, melted wax. In these situations, I find that a little common sense goes a long way, so please be very careful and keep kids at a safe distance for the more dangerous parts.

We used a cardboard egg carton, dryer lint and some candle wax. This wax was given to me (read: it was free), but you could also use the stuff that's left over from burnt up candles. Just scrape it out and save it.

I melted the wax in a soup can, using the redneck hoosier do-it-yourself double boiler method.

Meanwhile, the boys rolled pieces of lint into little balls. They placed these in each space of the egg carton.

I placed the linted egg carton onto a foil-covered cookie sheet, then poured the hot wax over the lint and into each little cup. (The wax is really hot, so the boys did not get to help with this step.)

I set them aside to let them cool for a good, long while.
All that's left to do is cut the sections apart and pack them away for our next several camping trips. If you are a super-prepared-for-anything type of person, you could also put a couple of these in a water tight bag with some matches in your 72 hour pack.

When it comes time to light the campfire, you just put one under your pile of kindling and light the cardboard. the lint acts like a wick and the wax gives you a flame that burns long enough to get a fire going.

Please always use caution around fires. You should only light a camp fire outdoors inside a cleared and ringed area with sand/water nearby. Never allow children to run or play around fires, and never, ever leave kids unattended around a fire. Especially if they are creative and adventurous boys with a unique curiosity and ability to challenge the laws of physics. 

Remember the old commercial: "Smokey the Bear says only YOU can prevent forest fires."


  1. Awesome! I remember making these (I think with sawdust and wax?) for Girl Scouts or something. You're so creative!

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