Trek Southwest - Hiking and Camping the Desert Southwest

Best DIY Firestarters

in Campfire Cooking

The secret to getting a good fire going without dousing it with lighter fluid has to do with two things – how you build your fire and your firestarter. Firestarters can make or break whether or not your fire is an easy one… or a frustrating one. So I’ve come up with the very best DIY firestarters for you to make at home. These are good for backyard firepits or campfires, are easy to put together, and are a great project for you to do with your kids. The other awesome part of making your own is that some of them simply reuse materials that were bound for the garbage. Keep a bag of these around for backyard firepit fires or to have them ready when you’re heading out on your next camping adventure.

Firestarters

Candle Kisses

This might be the easiest firestarter to make ever. Candle kisses are simply a birthday candle wrapped up in wax paper. They burn amazingly well and are cheap and easy to make. Use your old birthday candles or pick some up on clearance. Wax paper can be found at most dollar stores. This is a great firestarter to make with kids and scout groups since it’s simple and inexpensive to put together.

Candle Kisses

What You’ll Need

  • Birthday candles
  • Wax paper

Candle Kisses Supplies

Instructions

Tear off a small piece of wax paper. Put a candle on top and roll it up. When the candle is completely rolled up in the wax paper, twist each end just like you would twist a salt water taffy wrapper. That’s it!

Candle Kisses Step 1

Candle Kisses Step 2

Candle Kiss Completed

Dryer Lint Sausages

Instead of tossing all that dryer lint and all those empty toilet paper or paper towel tubes – reuse them! I keep a little plastic container next to the dryer and simply deposit my dryer lint in it each time I clean the trap. I throw all those old toilet paper tubes in there as well. So whenever we need a quick firestarter – we grab and assemble.

Dryer Lint Sausages

What You’ll Need

  • Toilet paper or paper towel tubes
  • Wax paper or newspaper
  • Dryer lint

Dryer Lint Sausages Supplies

Instructions

Take your dryer lint and stuff it into the toilet paper roll. You can put as much as you can fit in there. Then you tear off a small piece of wax paper (or use old newspaper!) and roll the tube in the paper. Push the ends into the tube on each side and you’re done.

Dryer Lint Sausages Step 1

Dryer Lint Sausages Step 2

Dryer Lint Sausages Step 3

Dryer Lint Sausages Finished

Bird’s Nests

This particular firestarter can be made a number of different ways. My personal favorite is old candle wax, pine shavings, and a cardboard egg carton. But you could easily substitute candle wax with melted crayons or substitute pine shavings with shredded paper bits. Our family has guinea pigs so pine shavings are readily accessible at our house. Plus, I like candles so what better use of the old wax?

Bird's Nests

What You’ll Need

  • Cardboard egg carton
  • Wax (from candles or crayons)
  • Wood shavings or shredded paper bits

Bird's Nests Supplies

Instructions

Take your egg carton (before it’s cut up) and fill each hole with some shavings or shredded paper. Then once you have some melted wax (or you’ve melted crayons in a double boiler), pour the wax into each hole. I also usually put a sheet of wax paper underneath the egg carton so that the wax doesn’t get on the work surface. The goal is to mostly cover up the shavings so it’s like a little brick of waxy shavings. You can keep an egg carton around for whenever you burn candles or you can do what I do and have a little candle bonfire when it’s time to make these.

Once the wax has completely cooled – take a pair of scissors or a sharp knife and cut each cup apart from the rest. The result is a little waxy bird’s nest!

Fill each cup with shavings

Begin pouring wax into each hole

Fill each hole with wax

Bird's Nests Done

Corn Chip Bundles

Did you know that corn chips by themselves are a super amazing firestarter? Seriously – if you forget to make these ahead of time, but you happen to have some corn chips in your camp food – you’ll be all set. They burn forever! But if you like to keep it a little tidier and have a bundle of corn chips ready to set underneath your fire – these are for you.

Corn Chip Bundles

What You’ll Need

  • Corn chips
  • Wax paper

Corn Chips

Instructions

Tear off a piece of wax paper and lay it flat. Sprinkle some corn chips on top, then roll the corn chips into the wax paper. Twist the ends of the bundle closed once the corn chips are completely wrapped up. Easy and portable corn-chip-fire-starting-goodness!

Lay on wax paper

Roll the corn chips up

Twist the ends closed

Waxy Discs

You know those cotton face pads that women use to remove makeup or apply toner? Coat them with wax and they are an epic firestarter. You can even recycle ones you’ve already used if you’re like me and use only jojoba oil to remove your makeup.

Waxy Discs

What You’ll Need

  • Cotton facial pads
  • Wax (from candles or crayons)

Cotton Face Pads

Instructions

After melting wax in candles or crayons in a double-boiler (I used a spent candle to harvest the remaining wax in the picture below) – pour it on the cotton pads. I suggest you put these pads on a paper plate or a layer of wax paper to prevent wax from leaking through to your work surface. These kind of looked like nachos when I was done since I used several different colors of candle wax.

Melt your wax

Pour wax onto pads

Waxy Cupcakes

These are much like bird’s nests – but the resulting product is much bigger (better for creating roaring blazes with lots of fuel wood.) These guys are sort of the big daddy of firestarters…they pack a big kickstart to your fire and they burn for a surprising amount of time. You could substitute regular cupcake liners for mini liners for a smaller version. I like to melt down our old crayons for the wax in these since it requires quite a bit compared to other firestarters. Another variation on this is to place a pinecone in the cupcake liner…then pour the wax over the top of it. The pinecone version is very attractive and great for gifts for those fire lovers in your life.

Waxy Cupcakes

What You’ll Need

  • Cupcake liners
  • Wood shavings or shredded paper bits
  • Wax (from candles or crayons)

Waxy Cupcakes Supplies

Instructions

Place single cupcake liners onto a sheet of wax paper. Fill each liner with shredded paper or wood shavings or a mixture. Melt your wax in a double boiler. When your wax is completely melted – pour it over the top of the paper/wood to create a thick coating of wax. Wait until the wax completely cools and remove from the wax paper and these are ready to rock!

Fill cupcake liners with paper

Melt crayons in double boiler

Completed Waxy Cupcakes

Happy firestarter making!

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RobinGuest Post by Robin Laulainen. Robin writes about camping and other outdoorsy stuff at Trek Southwest, pets every dog she meets, and drinks more coffee than she should. She blogs about her other passion - creating - at Make It Yourself Girl.

 

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