Easy DIY Fire Starters


I know. They look like a bunch of tasty caramelized brownies don’t they?  Probably a good time to say don’t feed these to your children or leave them out where children will feed themselves with them.  It’s not gonna kill ’em or anything, it’d just be embarrassing for you if they said they were the best dessert you’ve ever made.

Now you’re wondering when the hell would I ever need a fire starter?  I’m going to list the possible scenarios wherein you could use these.

  1.  When you want to light something on fire.

I’ve done a couple of posts on DIY fire starters because apparently I like to light things on fire, and I like to have things burst into flames, with ease.



The first fire starters I started to make were dryer lint stuffed into cardboard egg cartons which were then filled with melted wax.  They work great.

But if I didn’t have any cardboard egg cartons around I couldn’t make any fire starters.  Then I discovered the Dollar Store carried good little fire starters for cheap, so I started buying those.

Well, this fall when I went into my dollar store to pick up some fire starters for they winter they didn’t have any.  I tried again in November, December and at the beginning of January.  No fire starters.  I’m not sure what has prompted the Dollar Store to suddenly stop supplying me with fire starters but if I were the suspicious type I’d guess it has something to do with my curious nature and their fear of culpability.

So I again started making my own fire starters, this time based on the ones I used to get from the Dollar Store.

All you need is sawdust and melted wax.




I decided to go this route because I’ve been sanding my wood floors in inconspicuous places, like right in the middle of my front hall, to see how the newly sanded floor will react to different finishes.

This means I have a supply of sawdust.

I also have a supply of paraffin wax and leftover candle stubs.




  1.  All you have to do is melt some wax (paraffin, ends of candles, tea lights that for some reason wouldn’t burn).  To do this I put the wax in an old coffee can and set the can in simmering water on the stove.  Do NOT leave the stove when you’re melting candles.  Watch it and stir it.  To make the wax melt faster chop it up into small pieces.
  2. While the wax is melting, dump the sawdust into a shall dish or tray of some sort, that’s been lined with wax paper or freezer paper.
  3. Once the wax is melted, pour it over the sawdust and mix it together with your hands.  Bare hands are fine, candle wax cools quickly and as soon as it touches the sawdust it’s cool enough to mix with your fingers.  You need enough wax to hold the sawdust together.  It’s just a matter of trial and error.
  4. Press the sawdust and wax mixture down into the tray until it’s relatively flat and pressed together enough so that it doesn’t fall apart.  It’ll look like the topping of a rhubarb or apple crisp.
  5. Let it cool, then lift the whole block out by grabbing the wax paper.  Cut the slab into rectangles that are around 2″ x 1″.

You are now able to light anything you want on fire.  I’m hoping you’re leaning towards wood.  Chopped wood, not 17th century antiques. Which as we all know would be a complete waste of a fire starter.  A 17th century antique would burst into flames with a single match.


  1. Marilyn Foster says:

    When I had my Girl Scout troop back when I lived in Anchorage, Alaska, we were always on the lookout for items we could cheaply make and sell. We made egg carton and dryer lint starters first, then scrapped the lint for the more attractive sawdust and after that we had a hugely successful idea! We gathered spruce cones from beneath neighborhood spruce trees, let them dry completely and then dipped them in melted wax colored with crayon stubs (pretty colors only). While the wax was still soft we rolled the cones in the granulated stuff sold for making flames in fireplaces colorful. And shazam! The Aurora Borealis Firestarter was born. They sold like hotcakes at Christmas bazaars and we made enough money to take the whole troop to camp the next summer.

  2. Steve H says:

    As a high school teacher it may be easier to get my hands on such, but I’m saving up pencil shavings for this purpose. Anyone know if there’s a problem with using such? There’s some paint and graphite mixed in, but seems like the amount and type of stuff is minimal (i.e. ‘okay’).

  3. Bev Ross says:

    I make my fire starters out of 100% cotton balls coated with petroleum jelly. Store them in a jar. In additions to starting camp fires, they also work well starting the charcoal in the BBQ. They burn for several minutes. I recently started stuffing them in about 2 1/2″ pieces of plastic straws. It’s less messy. Seal the ends of the straw with a pliers and lighter. Used them all the time when I was in Search and Rescue.

  4. Michelle Good says:

    Like this idea, but sawdust would be hard for me to find. In the past, we used pinecones (free!) and paraffin. I used an old muffin tin, poured in melted paraffin, stuck pinecones in each cup, let harden. It takes 3 to start a fire.

  5. tiffany says:

    I use the small paper cups, hamster shavings and old candle. I also just stuff the dryer lint into the TP tubes. Lately, ( my son eats bacon everyday), I have been soaking up the bacon fat (and cleaning the pan at the same time with paper towel and shoving the half sheet into egg cartons (my hens went to stay with friends) or small waxed cup. They all work well. Thanks for the heads up about the sawdust. I can get free pine shavings from my local mill which I used for these plus deep litter for Les Girls.

  6. Marti says:

    I read the entire post waiting for you to start laughing at the massive joke you pulled because these were, in fact, photos of apple crumble bars.

    sigh. And now I’m hungry.

    • Karen says:

      OMG that would have been brilliant. ~ karen!

      • Marti says:

        Since you’ve already noted there seems to be a recurring theme of pyromania in your posts, perhaps the next one will be something along the lines of “fire-starters that look like dinner starters” (appetizers?) or “desserts that can help you turn up the temperature on a date.”

        There’s got to be some great innuendo in this for the upcoming (highly annoying) next Hallmark sales event, er, holiday.

  7. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    I think these would work well in the burn barrel out back…Hopefully my Son doesn’t grab some and start munching before I package them…

  8. Renee says:

    I made them with my Cub Scouts back in the day with the little white paper nut cups.

  9. Anti Kate says:

    Little paper Dixie cups are a great substitute for the egg carton issue. They are already waxed paper and once you put wax and sawdust and lint in there, they are so good to go, it might be illegal.

  10. Rachel says:

    Oh boy, that last line is a mother-in-law joke waiting to happen. Will try to do these for a beach bonfire party I’m planning for some Canadian friends coming in for Carnival as the season is finally upon us and I need to find new and interesting events to change things up every year! These look safe enough to show coastguards that we don’t intend to blow up every coconut tree and our surrounding rainforest. (Hope they work on beachfront wood patio furniture) thanks a mil!

  11. Kimberly M says:

    If only I had a place to light a fire that wouldn’t get me in trouble. We are looking to buy a house this year and one of my requirements is a wood burning fireplace. It’s hard being a pyro and the only thing you can burn is scented candles… I just re-read that and I sound like a lunatic…. Oh well.

  12. Mary W says:

    What? No cool, new container to store them in? What’s up with this – oh yeah, the floors. If you are sticking them in an empty oatmeal container that’s OK – just expected duct tape wrapped around it or something. They look good enough to eat. Maybe put them on a platter with some salt dough cookies which look good enough to eat also. Might as well use them for decorating and keep them handy. Karen, your are the best, in the middle of sanding and you still come up with fun posts.

  13. Cindy says:

    This is the first year I’ve had a wood burning fireplace, so this may be a silly question, but… Does the wax from the fire starters leave a residue on the floor of my fireplace? Does it drip down as it melts? Does it stain the stone underneath? Thanks!

    • Karen says:

      Cindy. My fireplace is 180 years old. It’s pretty stained already, lol. If you have a wood burning fireplace it’s going to get absolutely black from charring over the next few months so I wouldn’t worry about it. :) I wouldn’t use these however, in my pizza oven, for instance, where I put food directly onto the fire bricks. ~ karen!

  14. NinaMargoJune says:

    Karen, thanks for the warnings. Like my eyebrows just the way they are, thank you very much…

  15. Monique says:

    I read you for the photos..humor..ideas..writing..you have it all Karen:)

    • Karen says:

      Thank you Monique. I appreciate every single person who reads my blog and helps me to make my living this way! Honestly. ~ karen!

  16. danni says:

    pine cones dipped in melted wax, I have a basket of them but can only use when I start a pit fire outside…
    I got a little too industrious with the wax, would burn the house down around me \_(ツ)_/¯

    • Karen says:

      See that’s funny … I tried that technique and didn’t find it worked very well. Maybe I was too stingy with the wax? ~ karen!

  17. Kathryn says:

    I’m celebrating my first day of work at home by putting on a fire instead of a sweater while I do my pre-dawn email.

    • Karen says:

      LOL, I used to do that until I realized I was going through an insane amount of wood that way. Now I only have “day fires” when it’s a winter storm or the weekend. LOVE a fire in the day so much. ~ karen!

  18. shawna says:

    Wow! You got an Apple watch! Do you love it?
    The fire starters look like an interesting project for the summer.
    BTW-I made your sesame spicy noodles and they were absolutely delicious and easy to make. Thank-you for the recipe!


    • Karen says:

      I *do* love it Shawna!! It’s the cheapest model and I think the nicest because it’s the smallest and thinnest. It’s still a nice hefty watch though. Glad you like the sesame noodles! ~ karen

  19. MaggieB says:

    Oh No! Have just checked The Bloggies are no more. :(

    Be that as it may, TAODS is unquestionably the No 1 Blog (or Number One Blog in case of strange search engine enquiries or even Best Blog). You’re welcome! From an obviously unbiased completely independent observer. ;)

    • Karen says:

      Oh! I had no idea the Bloggies were done for. See? That’s how bad a blogger I am. I don’t search these things out or even pay attention. :/ ~ karen!

  20. Valerie says:

    Only vaguely relevant to your post but here is a caution about sawdust.
    If you have a fire ALREADY in progress please do not dump sawdust into the flames as it will explode. I am not exactly sure why this happens but it does.

  21. Karen Eggleston says:

    I make my fire starters with dryer lint stuffed into TP tubes. I cut the tubes in half, line them up in and old cake pan and dribble on the melted wax. I rarely have any sawdust.

    • MaggieB says:

      Duh! What an “obvious” solution to the no egg box conundrum. I’m usually throwing the toilet rolls into the rabbit and hamster cages – they love them – urm the tubes not the toilet paper, unfortunately they are not that well trained. Come to think of it neither are my children – in replacing an empty tube – and why is it always me that ‘discovers’ it????

      • Penny says:

        You can’t get ’em to use toilet paper, true, but you CAN toilet-train hamsters quite easily. Next time you clean out the cage, save a few scraps of bedding that has the hamster’s urine on it. Place inside a glass jar that is twice the size of your largest hamster and replace in a corner of their cage. Wedge it securely in place by packing some of the bedding around the base. Hamsters are generally clean creatures and will use the jar in preference to wetting their bedding material as long as the jar is washed out daily.
        Not as impressive as Karen toilet-training her cats, but your rodents will be happier.

  22. Darn it, now I’m hungry for dessert.

  23. Anna says:

    Not sure what’s going on but the background print is making it super hard to read your posts ( which I love)

    • Karen says:

      I”m not sure which background print you mean Anna. It’s black text against a dirty white (grayish) background. Try reloading the post. If it’s only happened this once the page maybe just didn’t load properly. ~ karen!

  24. Berry says:

    “shall dish” – Is that shallow, small, or is it a kind of dish I haven’t met before?

    For bonfires I’ve used a combination of sawdust, lint, wood shavings, and cotton makeup balls/pads in wax molded in old cardboard milk containers. Sometimes I used shredded paper and old cardboard too.

    • Karen says:

      Yes, that’d work well. Sounds similar to the original egg carton fire starters I posted about. The milk containers would be especially good because they’re lined with wax. ~ karen!

  25. Mark says:

    An apple watch in a post about a DIY fire starter? The brain is imploding with the cognitive dissonance of that visual!

    (They actually do look very yummy!)

  26. robert says:

    I’m yet to meet solemne who does’t like to make things burst into flames. Who knew some melted wax and saw dust could look so delicious?

  27. I could probably do very little else with my life but read your posts and try out the cool stuff you write about!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *