Fireplace Starter - how to make it
Here's a step-by-step guide to making fireplace starter, complete with pictures.
If you'd like to make use of fire starter, without paying the high price of commercial products, then this is one way to create your own marketplace alternative in the area of starting fires.
Using scrap and waste materials, an old spoon and a crummy pot, you too can make your own resource for easily starting a fire in the fireplace or wood stove.
Simply do some garage sale shopping and you'll have everything you need in no time at all - pot, spoon, plastic ice cube trays, cardboard egg cartons, cookie sheets, and a burner or hot plate.
Shown to the right is the "laboratory" set up in the garage. A good place to do this. It's outside, forgiving of spills and mess, lots of room and plenty of fresh air.
Everything I need it right there at my fingertips: blocks of wax, hammer, spoon, pot, cookie sheets, ice cube trays, egg cartons, a large box of saw dust and a heat source.
Oh, and a chair for the fireplace starter laboratory technician to relax while the pot heats up.
The materials for making fireplace starter are rather basic. It requires saw dust and wax, both of which can be found in the form of scrap or waste products.
Put a box and an old pot aside somewhere, and deposit your scrap wax in the pot and saw dust in the box until you have enough to get started. A few pounds of wax and a cubic foot of saw dust is probably enough to get you started on your first batch.
Here are the steps in the process. It's relatively simple and easy to make your own fireplace starter material. Just follow these steps:
- Heat the wax in an old pot over a low to medium heat. I like to stick the pot on my wood stove. Watch it carefully so you don't overheat the wax and get it to steam or burn.
In the photo above, you'll notice a bit of steaming as the first chunks of wax are melted. Overheating will likely take place at the beginning because there is little wax covering the bottom of the pot. Once you get the bottom of the pot covered in a quarter inch of melted wax, it's probably safe to turn up the heat a bit.
Melting the wax takes a while, so have patience.
Shoot for a pot that's half full, so you'll have room for the saw dust and be able to stir it without slopping over the sides.
- Once all the wax is liquefied, start adding handfuls of saw dust and stir to make certain the wax gets fully absorbed in the particles. Add enough saw dust to make the mixture thick.
If there are puddles of liquid wax on the surface, then the mixture needs more saw dust.
As you get a thick mixture, you won't be able to stir it, so keep the heat low enough to prevent scorching the saw dust on the bottom of the pot.
- With a sufficiently thick mixture, with little or no liquid wax on the top, spoon it into the plastic ice cube trays and cardboard egg cartons, pressing the mixture into a compact form and scraping off the excess back into the pot.
(Close the tops of the egg cartons if you'd like to store them that way because once the wax hardens, it will be difficult to close them up. Or, simply tear off the top of the cartons before you start.)
With cookie sheets, simply spread the mixture about a half an inch thick and press it firmly in place, making certain that it's relatively uniform in depth.
- Set the trays, cartons and cookie sheets off to the side to cool and harden as you fill up more.
That's about it until you need to make another batch.
After an hour of cooling, your fireplace starter pieces should be ready to use. Find a box, canister or other suitable container to hold them in as they will be a little be crumbly, and this will leave chips of wax and saw dust in the area if you don't have a container to catch the crumbs.
Twist and press on the back of the ice cube trays to pop out your fireplace starter chunks.
Break up or carefully cut with a knife the material on the cookie sheets so you have fireplace starter "peanut brittle." Leave the egg cartons alone as you'll simply tear off one of the wax and saw dust "half eggs" each time you need to start a fire.
With left over crumbs, simply throw them back in the pot to melt down the next time you need to make another batch.
Enjoy the warmth of the wood fires you start with your homemade fireplace starter chunks.
One match, one chunk of fireplace starter from an old ice cube tray, and one nice warm fire in the wood stove.
Enjoy the ease of starting fires with the fire starter that you've made as a marketplace alternative to the commercial products available in the store.
Done with Fireplace Starter, back to Heating with Wood.