Making Your Own Fire Starters Is Easy & Cheap


Now that the fireplace was finished, I was ready for a fire. I’ve even thought about turning the AC down to 40 and building a fire.

I know that cooler weather is going to arrive in NW Arkansas shortly because the Farmer’s Almanac says we’re going to have an unusually wet and COLD winter. And we all know that the Farmer’s Almanac is always right.

We get our firewood from a little man in Mountainburg. He has a contract with the Forestry Service and cuts all year round. You just load your wood and put your money in his metal box… honor system.

And before you ask – yes, we are bordered on 3 sides by the National Forest, but it happens to be illegal to cut trees and take them out of the forest (even dead trees) without a permit.

Anyway, we need wood and since our house is total electric, we also need “starters” to get the fire going. Rather than buy the starter logs, I make fire starters like we made in Girl Scouts. They’re easy to make, and you can’t beat the price – FREE.

All you need is:

  • empty egg cartons, cupcake papers, or little paper bathroom cups
  • a old muffin pan
  • paraffin or old candles
  • sawdust or dryer lint or dried grass clipping or shredded newspaper
  • a pan that you can melt the paraffin in
  • a few drops of essential oil to make them smell good while they’re burning (I use a few drops of cinnamon, orange, or clove and the smell is wonderful).  You could even use orange peel, pine or cedar twigs, or pieces of a cinnamon stick.

I’ve used egg cartons before and they work great, you just tear one off when you need it. But since I have the chickens, I need the egg cartons, so I’ve started using cupcake papers in a muffin pan (found an old one up at a garage sale for 5 cents).

I’m fortunate that I can get all the sawdust I want from my husband’s workshop. I’ve tried saving the dryer lint, but it’s never enough to make more than a couple.   You can even use dried grass clippings.

You can use old candle pieces, but I’ve found that it’s less hassle to buy paraffin at Walmart or at Hobby Lobby using a 40% off coupon. Melt the wax on LOW, in an old pan (I’ve never tried it, but have read that you can use any pan, but just be sure to OIL it really good so that the wax doesn’t stick to it.)

Now pour the wax s-l-o-w-l-y into the cups and using a fork or spoon, press the sawdust down so that the wax coats it good. Let it harden and then take the cups out of the muffin pan and store.

I’ve got mine in an old “chamber pot” that sets on my new hearth.

NOTE: I have a friend who bought some scented pine cones to use as fire starters. The pine cones were embedded in a muffin paper with about an inch of wax.   They looked so pretty and smelled wonderful.

Unfortunately, the next time she cleaned the ashes out, there were big clumps of wax all over the bottom of the fireplace. The little amount of wax on the pine cone had burned off, but the inch or so where the cone was embedded had just melted and run down like a candle does. It was a mess.

Here’s a neat idea that would make a cute gift…

Do you make your own fire starters of buy “starter” logs?  What do you use?


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