Tuesday, February 22, 2011

How to make fire starters with sawdust and wax...

Since getting our b-e-a-utiful new fireplace, we've been building many cozy fires...or trying at least. We still don't own an ax or a hatchet (note to self: get thee to Freecycle and Craigslist) so we've been chopping some wood on our property with our chainsaw. It's gotten us through some cold nights (24* below!) but it can be a real PITA to light without real kindling.

One afternoon, after chopping a bunch of wood, I looked at all of the sawdust it was leaving in our driveway, and the light bulb went on over my little former-Girl-Scout head: fire starters!

Here's how to make them.

Ingredients & Tools:

Sawdust - You can get it from chopping your own wood, calling a local woodworker or checking with a lumber yard. How much you need depends on how many fire starters you want to make. I used a few cups of shavings to make 18 fire starters.

Wax - I used some old candles we found when cleaning out a storage unit. They had melted a bit, then rehardened and were dirty, so not anything I'd use as actual candles. You can usually find wax / old candles at Goodwill. I used about 7 candles that were 8 inches long.

Double boiler - For melting the wax, I used a regular pot and sat an old metal bowl on top in which to melt the wax.

Egg carton - Mine was an 18 egg carton. Cut the top off; you'll just need the bottom that holds the eggs.

Sharp knife - For cutting the cups apart after they harden.


1. Bring water to a boil in your pot. Sit your bowl or double-boiler over it and put the candles inside. Boil until the wax melts. Don't worry about the wicks; they'll be helpful to the fire-starting process.

2. When the wax has fully melted, start spooning in the wood shavings. Mix well. You don't want it to be too runny, but wet enough to hold all the shavings together. It's not an exact science, so don't be too concerned here.

3. Spoon into the egg carton and pack down gently, then place the tray in the freezer until hardened.

4. Remove the tray from the freezer and break or cut apart with a sharp knife.

5. Wrap each piece in newspaper, starting at the corner. Twist ends to close.

You're done!

When you go to start your fire, light both ends and let it burn towards the center. The center will burn for a good 20 minutes, which is perfect to get your fire going.


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Heather at Happy Chippy Junk said...

When I looked at your top picture...I thought it was a litter box on your counter. Yuck! :)

Aivars Berzins said...

Hey Kellie,

Made your fire starters today. Thanks for the instructions.

They are cooling as we speak, in the wilds of PEI, Canada.

Can't wait to try them. Question? - when they are solid, and wrapped in the newspaper, how and where do you store them?


Kellie said...

I keep them in a metal bowl near the fireplace. Not so close that they melt, but close enough to be handy when I need them.