By Finn Clark
I’m 9 years old and like most 9-year-olds I’m interested in, and learning about, fire and what my parents call “combustibles.” We live in the Northwest where the winters are long and wet.
Our home is heated almost entirely by wood and since we forage for our own wood in our forest, it’s often pretty wet. I decided it was time to make some fool-proof fire starters for those cold nights when nothing wants to burn. These things will definitely help start your wet wood burning, especially if you use 2-3 of them. Here’s how:
Wax Scraps (we melt ours into pie tins for easy re-melting)
Wick String or Just Plain String,
Shredded Paper and/or Sawdust
Next you’ll need to melt down your wax scraps. I place our previously-melted wax scraps in a pie tin with another pie tin underneath and place the double-layer pie tins over our pilot light on the stove. That’s enough to melt the wax in the tins and it’s safe for little hands like mine that could get burned by the wax. Dip your string in the melting wax to make a true candle wick. They burn more slowly and readily with the wax infusion.
While your wick is drying, mix all your lint with shredded paper and you can add sawdust and small wood chips if you have them.
I think I like the mixing part the best.
Now that your wick is dry, you can cut it into small 2-3 inch wicks for each fire starter.
Now you can stuff your lint mixture into the egg carton cups. We take a small handful, wrap it around a wick, and then jam it (with the wick standing up in the middle like a candle wick) into each cup.
We then pour our melted wax over the top of the paper/lint/wick-filled egg carton. I let my mom do it because even though we have 2 pie tins under the wax, it could spill and hurt me.
Do you see little matches standing up in the back row there? That’s my secret ingredient. I like to use matches dipped in wax as my wicks. They’re actually home-made water-proof matches but that’s another post for a later time. They work really really well as wicks, too.
When your wax has solidified and cooled, the fire starters are ready to be used. Simply rip off a single cup at a time and light your wick when you’ve placed your fire starter where you want it in your well-laid fire.
Now we get to enjoy a warm winter wet wood fire.
My mom wants you to know that we have more great homemade DIY ideas for all sorts of things, like egg cartons, plastic bottle caps, even toilet paper rolls! Please visit our Trash Backwards app for more reuse ideas to spark new fires in your imagination. Here’s a sampling of some easy trash hacks like my fire starters: