It's that time of year again. The time when I get ready for camping and backyard fires by making a big batch of homemade fire starters. After trying out a few different methods. But last year we tried 3 different fuels and they all worked great, so I am only tweaking some small details for this year's batch.
I bought new tinfoil pans this year. In past years I had used round pans (because they sell them every where), but this year, I opted for square cake pan style tinfoil pans so they'd be easier to pour wax out of. They worked great! I set my tinfoil pan onto the ceramic stove top burner and turned it to low. I used some cheap candles from Walmart this year and some leftover old tea lights I had floating around. I pulled the sticker off the bottom of the new candle and pulled the wick out from the bottom, then I put the candle in the pan and let it melt.
While the candle was melting, on the other side of my stove, I laid out some wax paper and my filled egg cartons. I had one cardboard egg carton filled with dryer lint, one 6 count carton filled with colored pencil shavings, and another egg carton filled with pistachio shells. This year, we crushed the shells in a gallon Ziploc bag with a rubber mallet. They are really hard to break down--even using a freezer bag, the shells pierced the plastic, but we broke them a bit so they would fill the carton more evenly and shed less.
Once the wax was melted, I carefully poured it onto the top of the various fuels until they had enough wax on them to soak through the cardboard in some places and to keep the materials from shedding off the tops of the cartons.
I use a little more wax with the pencil shavings since they go flying everywhere if they aren't wet down properly with the wax.
The dryer lint looks the grossest, but works the best out of all these materials/fuels. I try to make sure the tops are wet with wax and that the wax has soaked through to the bottom of all of at least part of each carton compartment. Be sure not to soak these with so much wax that there isn't any dry cardboard, though, because they will be harder to light if there isn't any plain cardboard left.
We had the perfect opportunity to test these fire starters out when we went camping last week at Palisades Kepler State Park. It was a lovely little state park with lots of nice trails along the river. We had a great time and lots of opportunities for campfires.
All of our fire starters worked great! To use them, just break off one of the sections of the egg carton and light it on fire under or next to dry wood. The crushed pistachio shells did shed less, but burned about as long as they did before being crushed. I think we can get these working even better. The lint starters and pencil shavings starters both worked great too. For a side by side comparison, check out our post from last year: Homemade Campfire Starters Results.