Fire Starter - make your own
Make your own fire starter and save money. Why not? It's something that's easy to do, and if one of your objectives is to be more self sufficient, then this is a small contribution in support of that goal.
Besides, making your own will help you save time and aggravation when you start up your wood stoves and fireplaces. It sure beats newspapers and piles of kindling.
With well made chunks of material for starting fires, one match provides you with a well lighted fire.
Let me show you how easily obtainable household items can help you make your own means of starting fires, similar to what's available in stores, but at a small fraction of the cost of retail.
There are several techniques you can use, and I'll show you what works well for me.
Compare this do-it-yourself fire starter with:
- Fatwood Firestarter
- Quickfire Firestarter
- Ignite-O Firestarter
I think you'll find that this is an inexpensive and fun approach to frugal living when you're heating with wood. Whether you'd like to enjoy wood heat, the charm of a fireplace, or make use of some other wood burning appliance, this type of homemade fire starter will do the trick.
What is Fire Starter?
There are many types of products on the market used to start fires. Some come in a box, while other come in a can. Many are a combination of saw dust and wax - low tech - something any of us can do.
The idea with these commercial products is to place the bar of saw dust and wax in a pile of wood, and let it start the fire by providing a continuous flame for many minutes. This presence of heat and flame will start kindling and split wood with relative ease. It's way more effective than newspapers, and much more reliable.
The problem is simply that these products cost too much for what they do, so I suggest you make your own. It's low tech, so it's not difficult at all. Here's how I do it.
Light Your Fires on the Cheap
My original sources of fire starter were garage sales (tag sales for you folks on the east coast). I suppose after a few fires in the fireplace and campsite, people wanted to get rid of the stuff in their garage, so I took it off their hands for a dollar a box.
Instead of tossing in an entire block of this wax and saw dust mixture, I carefully cut the bars crosswise multiple times with an old chef knife (also from a garage sale), and then cut each of the smaller blocks in half. This gave me about 10 pieces of fire starter about the size of a marshmallow.
They worked well while I had a cheap supply, but since I use wood heat for my home, after a season of starting fires, I ran out, so I decided to make my own.
Old Candle Wax
I saved a bunch of old candle stubs for years, melting them down on the wood stove in an old pot. It's a waste to simply toss away old stubby candles, so I kept them for making my own candles.
It dawned on me that I could mix the melted wax with saw dust from my buzz saw operations and create my own material for starting fires, so I put the pot on the wood stove and added saw dust to it when it had fully melted.
Using an old plastic spoon, I made a very thick concoction and spooned it out into:
- old plastic ice cube trays
- cookie sheets
- old cardboard egg cartons
After packing it down and smoothing it out, the wax and saw dust later hardened to make fine fire starter for my wood stoves.
One day at a garage sale I found two large boxes of food grade paraffin for canning. These boxes each contained 4 slabs of wax about the size of a large cookie sheet and 2 inches thick. Wow, that was a lot of wax and I knew exactly what I was going to do with it.
After making an excellent buy on both boxes, I took them home, pulled out a slab, whacked it with a hammer and started melting the broken pieces in a pot using the burner from my turkey fryer and an old pot.
Using the same technique as I had done with the candle wax, one slab of food grade wax made about 200 marshmallow size fire starter chunks. That's enough for an entire season of starting fires in my wood stoves.
If you're heating with wood or simply enjoying a fire in the fireplace every now and then, you might keep your eyes peeled for opportunities to collect scrap wax for making your own fire starter chunks.
It's fun, it's easy, it's frugal and it's something you can do to become a bit more self sufficient. And, that's the name of the game here at Frugal Living Freedom.
Done with Fire Starter, back to Heating with Wood