Thursday, August 21, 2014

DIY: Fire Starters

I'm adding something new to my blog--DIY (do it yourself) projects.
One thing I can't stand is waste. Call it ridiculous or OCD, but I can't stand to see something go to waste whether it's food, the last bit of hand soap in the pump, whatever. I'm always trying to figure out ways to make things last, reduce waste, and save money. As I create projects around my home, I'll be sharing them with you.

Image courtesy of
Today's project: Fire Starters
What you'll be recycling: egg cartons, newspapers, and leftover candle wax

This time of year we start planning ahead for winter. One thing that's always on our list is gathering firewood. There's nothing greater than a warm fire on a cold night. Except a cup of coffee and a good book while you sit by it. But at times the logs don't want to cooperate by catching easily. No one wants to spend an hour trying to get the fire going. I started making these fire starters a couple years ago and they work great. No more time and matches wasted here. These starters do all the work.

Keep in mind, the finished product isn't the most attractive thing, but it works. Another plus? There's finally a purpose for the last inch of candle wax in the jar.

Leftover candle wax
Cardboard egg carton (do not use foam cartons)
Newspaper (or cotton balls)

Step #1: Cut the lid and side tab off of the egg carton. Place newspaper or paper towels underneath the carton to catch any spilled wax.
Step #2: Carefully melt the leftover candle wax in the jar on LOW heat. You can use a jar warmer (looks like a tiny crock pot) or warm over a burner.

Step #3: Cut strips of newspaper into two-inch strips, approx. 10 inches long.

Step #4: Wad each strip of newspaper and place one in each hole of the egg carton. (If using cotton balls, skip to step 5.)

Step #5: When all of the wax in the jar is melted, carefully pour the hot wax over each wad of newspaper, filling each hole half-full. You may need to use a potholder if the jar is too hot to hold with your bare hand. (If using cotton balls, place one cotton ball in each wax pool, making sure to leave half of the cotton ball above the wax.) Some of the wax may leak through the bottom of the egg carton, and that's okay.

Step #6: Let the wax dry and cool completely.

Step #7: Cut the individual starters apart using a hobby knife or a pair of good, sharp scissors.

To use, arrange the firewood/kindling as normal. Place one fire starter strategically with the kindling. Light a corner of the fire starter. The flame will catch and continually burn the wax, catching the kindling and logs on fire. Best of all, the scented wax fills the space with a great smell!

To further reduce waste, clean out any remaining wax from the candle jar, wash thoroughly, and plant flowers or herbs in the jar. I try to coordinate the plant with the picture on the jar. For example, if the picture on the candle jar is an outdoor scene, I'll plant herbs or small fern in the jar. If the picture contains fruit or flowers, I'll plant flowers with like colors.

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