The best part of camping is the campfires. Who doesn't love making s'mores and roasting hotdogs over a fire? Sometimes the fires are a bit difficult to get going though. If it's a bit breezy or if your wood is a bit wet or even if you're just in a hurry, getting a fire started can be a real pain. We use fire starters most of the time when we're camping. We've tried lots of different kinds (including the store bought variety). Of all of the homemade ones I've tried, these pack the most bang for their size. They are also very easy and inexpensive to make.
To make your own Cotton Rounds Campfire Starters you'll need:
Quilted Cotton Rounds
Something to melt the wax in--I used a tinfoil pie tin
Your stove top or a hot plate
Cooling Station--I used a cookie sheet lined with nonstick tinfoil
I bought a pumpkin candle on sale at Wal-mart a while back. It is a lousy candle. The wick burns faster than the wax, so the wax is always putting the candle out. So I started pouring the wax off of the candle and into a plastic solo cup. I cut the cup off of the wax and plopped it into my pie tin and turned the stove on low. If I did a lot of candle making or working with wax, I'd probably just buy a little kettle/pan at the thrift store...but these pie tins are 2 for a dollar at Dollar Tree, and they work great on my electric stove. If you don't have a stash of wax or a candle that you don't really care for the scent of or that's almost burned to the bottom of the jar, etc... you can pick up a candle at your local thrift store or dollar store.
Once the wax has started melting, use the tongs to dip your cotton round into the wax. It will soak it right up.
The cotton round should be covered in wax, but still have white spots visible. If you coat the rounds in too much wax, they are a bit more difficult to start on fire (which kind of defeats the purpose). Let the round drip a bit before moving it to the cooling station.
You can whip up a whole pan full of these in about 15 minutes. Since the wax was destined for the trash bin and the cotton rounds cost $1-1.50 per 100 rounds--these cost less than 50 cents to make (including the sheet of tinfoil).
The best part about these fire starters is that they are pretty compact. You can fit an entire weeks worth into a sandwich bag--which makes them great for backpacking or squeezing into a camper drawer.
I made a batch of these bad boys last summer before we went camping. Hubby tossed an extra one in the fire because he didn't know how well they'd work. They were surprisingly effective at keeping the fire going long enough to start your kindling. We did find that the higher quality wax (I had made some with a stinky Yankee Candle votive I got at a thrift store) did burn longer--which makes sense--but the ones I made with a dollar store candle still did the job.