I’ve seen some really organised people starting to build up their firewood supplies for the coming Victorian Winter, but I am getting organised ahead of time by making my own fire starters from waste materials.

Homemade fire starters using waste materials.
Homemade fire starters using waste materials.

If you don’t rely on a wood heater for heating your home, hot water, or for cooking, then you could make these fire starters as a gift for someone who does, or save them up to use for a campfire or outdoor fire pit. A hiker also said to me that she keeps something very similar to these in case she becomes stranded and needs to light a fire.

fire place poowong
We heat our house with a wood heater and dry all our clothes by the fire in Winter.

This project came about because I am always thinking about my waste and how it can be reduced further. In this instance, I wanted to know what could be done with the wax coating from my cheese wheel. I found out that cheese wax tends to be made from paraffin wax (from petroleum) so it doesn’t compost well and shouldn’t be used for candle making for health reasons. Once I knew this I switched my search from “uses for cheese wax” to “uses for paraffin wax” and discovered homemade fire starters! Paraffin is flammable when overheated. Now this was something I could genuinely use.

Melting the wax from my cheese in a double boiler.
Melting the wax from my cheese in a double boiler.

All I needed was the wax from my cheese, toilet paper rolls, and lint. I have a clothes dryer but it only gets used for emergencies a couple of times a year so I didn’t think I’d have much lint in there. I was surprised by how much I found, but I guess because I don’t really use it, I don’t really clean it either. I was thinking about what I can replace the lint with next time I make fire starters and thought the vacuum cleaner waste would be a good place to start.

Making my fire starters.
Making my fire starters.

To make, simply stuff the toilet paper roll with the lint, and as you go pour some of the melted wax over the lint. Continue until you get to the top, making sure the lint is soaked. I used an old skewer to help. Be careful with the hot wax.

Making fire starters

Once that is done, leave it to cool and harden. Now slice it into biscuits and there you have your fire starters. You will need a serrated knife and some elbow grease because it is tough to cut through.

Slicing the fire starter into biscuits

Now for the test. I wanted to know how well these burned so I could be sure they really worked. I was impressed. It was pretty easy to light and it burnt for over 17 minutes. That’s more than enough time to get a fire going.

IMG_5073
The burn test.

 

What a nifty way to reuse my cheese wax. I’m also glad to have found another use for toilet paper rolls, and something as random as lint.

Ah…, I love the comforting effect of a fire, so I had to share this with you. Camp fires in particular promote a sense of belonging and invite conversation, songs and stories. Go ahead and lose yourself in the glow of this campfire, maybe even contemplate life for a few moments 🙂 .

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13 thoughts

    1. LOL! That’s a good one. My husband gathers a fair bit on his own. Its a thing in our house where the kids take it and chase me around the house with it. I pretend to be grossed out by it, and they love it 🙂

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      1. My parents used to use old milk cartons to light the fire in our fireplace. The cartons used to be covered with paraffin on the inside. This paraffin sticks to the inside of the chimney, eventually causing your chimney to catch fire. So be warned!

        Liked by 1 person

  1. What do you use under the toilet paper roll when you are adding the wax to stop it leaking all over the place? The photo looks like it’s just newspaper, but if that’s the case, doesn’t the wax get through onto the table top?

    Liked by 1 person

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