Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Cheap and Easy Fire Starters

Today in the News:  I'm sorry.  There is no news today.  Nothing has happened.  Time is suspended.  You are getting sleepy.....very, very sleepy........click follow.........you love The Axe........Didn't work, huh?  Darn that hypnotherapy school!  It only works on chickens!

Link of the Day:  http://www.millsmountaineering.com/ .  This is a local company (to Colorado).  They own a store in Pine Junction.  While I haven't been there, I plan on stopping by this weekend.  I'm not really a back packer or climber, but I've seen some fun gear on their website.  I'm going to petition them to start carrying axes.  I doubt it will work, but why not try?  If you order anything, tell them that Mike Oscar Hotel sent you.  They have no idea who I am, but they will.

Cheap and Easy Fire Starters

I have to give a special shout out to my mom on this one.  She sent me some of these awhile back and I was really impressed by them.  If I don't have time to mess around with lighting a fire, I use fire sticks from the store.  They are greasy, sticky and they stink.  Not to mention it takes about a minute to actually get one to light on fire.  I'm going to show you a low cost solution for those of you that want to start a fire and start one quickly.

To give you a little biography on my mom (Mum), she's pretty cool.  She's an accomplished hunter and trapper.  She can skin a beaver faster than most men. She has shot more deer than I have. She has a license to drive everything except an airplane.  She can make you a quilt and plant you a garden.  She knows more about wild edibles than most people on the street and darn it, she still manages to be feminine.  She has worked on an ambulance, been a firefighter, bus driver, fast food restaurant manager a janitor and a teacher's aid.  I won't keep going.  Her interests change weekly.  She is a life-long learner.

All you need for supplies is an egg carton, some old candles (I buy mine at yard sales) and a dry piece of wood.

Slice the top off of the egg carton.

Look at the bottom of your wood bin.  See all that shwag that usually annoys you?  Put it in the egg carton.

Yeah, just like that.

Take that dry piece of wood and make yourself some feather sticks, but this time shave the feathers off.

Kind of blurry, but you get the idea.

It is a good idea to put the carton on a magazine.  This next part gets a little messy.

I forgot to tell you - melt some wax.  Don't do like I'm doing.  Wax does have a flash point and will catch fire if it gets too hot.  Use a double boiler to ensure safety.

Here is where I made a mistake.  I took all of the wax and dumped it into the carton.  Not a good idea.  It seeped through the cardboard carton and out onto the magazine.  Good thing I put the magazine down.  Mrs. Hotel would have had my scalp.  To fix the problem, dump a little and let it harden.  Then dump a little more and let it harden.  You get the routine.

First round.  Time to melt more wax.

Here is the wax seeping out all over the magazine.  Messy!

Round two of the wax.  That looks right.

Viola.  Split up your twelve spots into individual pieces.  I just rip them off.  They're going to burn anyway.  Why make them look nice?

These will burn well for about five minutes.  The reason I like them so much is because they are water proof, easy to make and practical.  Just light it, throw it under your logs and go do what you need to do.

I''ll add that Mum used cedar shavings like those you'd use in a hamster cage.  I thought instead of spending money on that, I'd use wood box shwag.  All in all, you can start 12 fires for about $1.25.  If you're cheap like me, hit yard sales for candles.  That will significantly reduce the cost.  The only reason I spent so much doing this was the mistake I made with the wax.  Had I not done that, I could have made this for .50 cents.

Pax Domini Sit Semper Vobiscum,

Mike, Oscar, Hotel....out.


  1. Ever get one of those tree crotches in your firewood? The ones that are too big to fit in the stove. They are a bear to try and split withhand tools like I use. If you lay them on thier side and split them with a chain saw, you'll have all the wood shavings you'll ever want. I make similar fire starters using those shavings. I line an old muffin tin with a piece of paper, fill with shavings and wax. Same idea as the egg carton.

  2. Interesting idea, I think I might have to give it a try some time. I did something similar once only I rolled up newspaper and cut it into small chunks then dipped that into the wax.

  3. Hey Caleb,

    I thought about doing that as well - you just gave me an idea for another type of stove......thanks!

  4. Hey Woodsrunner - I've got a lumber maker attachment for my chainsaw - that spits out a CRAZY amount of that long sawdust. Next time I make boards I'll remember to keep the shavings!

  5. Another use for those shavings is for animal bedding. I'll warn you though. Be careful what you use for bedding with those angora's. Pelenaka gave up on hers because it was such a pain keeping thier coats clean. Now she has giant chinchillas that are so big even the nieghbors pit bull is afraid of.


  6. Good to know. Chinchillas freak me out. I've never actually seen one, but my dad always told me (when I was a kid) that they could pee in your eye at ten feet. I think he was filling me full of crap.

  7. Yep I can attest to this starter working well.

    I place a little bit of unraveled jute twine so it sticks out of each cup,this takes a spark very well and lights the wax & shavings in quick time.