Homemade Firestarters

I love Jennifer.  I love her with all my heart and a tiny portion of my pancreas.

Jennifer is an Art of Doing Stuff reader that brought homemade firestarters to my attention.  You may have seen them before.  I sure hadn’t.  I was familiar with store bought firestarters and pinecones dipped in wax which were  a DIY craft featured on Design*Sponge a year or so ago.  But for some reason I never gave them a shot.  They seemed like a lot of work and I wasn’t convinced they’d do the trick.

Plus my local dollar store carries firestarters for a dollar.  And when I’m at the dollar store buying firestarters I can also buy a bag of Bugles, a pair of socks and metal garbage can with all of the Muppets on it.  Clearly … this gives the dollar store an advantage.

So when Jennifer asked me whether I’d tried to make my own firestarters before I thought, No.  Why would I?  That thought lasted approximately 2.3 seconds.  And then my thought was Oh my GOD.  Why, for the love of GOD have I never made my own firestarters???  WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH ME.  Any normal person would be making their own firestarters.  And it sounds like so much FUN!!!  Pyromaniacal f-u-n!

So I made my own firestarters.  There are about as many firestarter tutorials on the Internet as there are pictures of the Olsen Twins exhibiting poor posture while wearing oversized sunglasses.  So I probably didn’t need to add to the gluttony of firestarter tutorials – but I did.

firestarter materials


Take your egg carton …

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Shove whatever you have on hand in the cups.

Cotton balls …

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Wood chips  …

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Dryer lint … belly button lint …

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Paper towels … sawdust …

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Melt your leftover candlewax.

I found it was easiest to just drop the wax into a metal can and then put the can in a pot with an inch or so of water in the bottom of it.

Gently heat the water.  It won’t take much to melt the wax.


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Pour the wax over the contents of your egg carton.

If you don’t have an easily cleaned tile countertop like I do, make sure you put something underneath to protect your surface.  Wax will seep through.  This, by the way, is why I love my crappy old tile countertop.  There is nothing I can do to hurt it.  I put  hot pots on it, chop on it, melt candles all over it, spill vinegar on it and sometimes even tap dance on it. In-de-structible!

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Allow the wax to harden.

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Once the wax has solidified break the compartments apart.

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These are the best firestarters EVER.

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They light with one match.

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They burn long and hard.  10 minutes easily.  Definitely long enough to start a fire.

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Will I still buy my dollar store fire starters?  Yup.  They’re a dollar for the love of God.  And a dollar’s worth lights about 7 fires!   However, when I run out of them, as I have been known to do … I’ll always have these.  PLUS, now that I know this general method words, I’ll give those pinecone fire starters a shot again.

So thank you Jennifer!  From the bottom of my pancreas.  Thank you.


  1. itchbay says:

    Ha ha! This one of the three things I learned in my ONE YEAR as a Girl Scout in the 6th grade. (I lived in a very small town, and that was the only year we could actually find someone to be our guide.) Except we used dryer lint.

  2. Karen says:

    itchbay – I used dryer lint! Didn’t you see? I used all sorts of different things. And all of them worked. ~ karen!

  3. Marti says:

    Finally… a use for dryer lint!

    I need a cleverer name. Itchbay got it all, though. Karen, do you Ravelry?

  4. Karen says:

    I’ve browsed a bit on it, but I wouldn’t say I’m active. No time. ~ k!

  5. Marti says:

    Darn. I figured you might have great knitting ideas, too.

  6. Karen says:

    I used to knit a lot. Then I stopped. Now I’m starting again. No brilliant knitting ideas though other than your basic … knit a row, pearl a row, knit a row, pearl a row with a bunch of other stuff in between. ~ karen

  7. I have been using cardboard egg cartons tout simple as firelighters for years and they work fine – do I have to try harder now? Mind you I do have A LOT of lint…

  8. Jeneen says:

    I have never heard of this…what a great idea!!! This is so cool!!! I wondered if I could post your article on my blog, giving you credit of course, and share with my readers. I absolutely love this!!! Thank you so much for sharing this. We recently tried to start a fire in our new firepit to do s’mores, after many many tries, it finally started. Wish I had known about this little trick then and it would have been a lot easier.

  9. Liz E. says:

    Definitely a Girl Scouting classic. But I love how colorful your lint is–makes these look so upscale compared to my drab light blue-gray ones.

  10. Yeah…great explanation. I think my town has more Dollar Stores than McDonalds … though it’s close. Hate bugles … but I buy those dollar pool noodles for wreaths. Back to the point. I start my fireplace with a gas jet and a match and whoosh. Much easier. Maybe most people don’t have jets … hmm…. stuff u learn on the internet. Yeah… you proved you could do it …. did do it… but hey…too much work. Go back to the dollar store.


  11. Jenny says:

    Now I wish I had a fireplace. That’s one drawback of living in Arizona…there’s a definite lack of need for one.

  12. Leena says:

    What happened to the cover of the egg carton? Couldn’t you just shred that and use it instead of lint or cotton. Just to simplify the recipe.

  13. Julie shinnick says:

    Cool! Fire! Good to know just in case they outlaw the manufacture of firelighters for some silly reason!

  14. Barbie says:

    …..again! Why or Why don’t we have a wood burning fireplace??? However we are putting a fire pit in outside sooooooo I will be needing something like this! I will have to try them…of course they would also be awesome to take on a camping trip.

  15. Phoenix says:

    I love love love your firestarters! However, hubby would be dissappointed in me if I started using props to start fires. We live in South Africa, where a good fire is essential for an evening with friends. He taught me how to build a fire from scratch, starting small, talking to it, loving it and making it promises we both know I will never keep. But it works! I can now start a fire with wet wood, a bit of kindling and nothing else.
    That said, I am going to try these starters. Just because sometimes a girl must rebel!

  16. Gayla T says:

    This is just a great idea I had forgotten all about. Now I need a tutorial on making a fireplace. I’m serious. My new old house doesn’t have one and I miss it. I have a window at the north end of my living room that is totally useless and would be a perfect place for one. I’ve been looking at the fake ones which would fit great but I don’t know if I’d like fake fire. It would be a lot cleaner. I’m torn.

  17. Brenda j says:

    You forget to mention Darned purdy too! hahahahaha…ooops sorry; too much laughter here.

  18. Bev says:

    I save the dryer lint for my hubby, but it doesn’t always “take”. Now, I have a plan! Go to the dollar store 😉

  19. Denise says:

    Wow, not only are you clever, but your audience ain’t bad either! I’m pulling out this idea when milder weather comes and we start using the outdoor wood burner. It can be a pain to start and this sounds like just the ticket … not to mention the fun putting it together. Thanks. I am a recent fan and look forward to your blog every morning!

  20. Phyllis says:

    Not only are you clever…but hilarious too!! Is the “fella” missing a red sweater…only you could come up with fashionable/designer lint!..Thanks for the recipe and the giggle!!

  21. Elizabeth says:

    I have made these before but the wax? Not so good for the chimney.
    Now I use just the dryer lint or just the egg carton.

  22. Nicole2 says:

    Karen, do you have to buy empty egg cartons, since I’m sure you haven’t bought eggs in forever?

  23. Kim Merry says:

    I have made these as well, I use old scented candle pieces to melt over them. They smell nice too!

  24. mollydolittle says:

    Ok, that works, but too much work for me. I liked the method you posted in “How to build a fire”..much easier.

  25. Julee says:

    These are great! Another use for dryer lint is in compost. It counts as one of the “browns” to mix with the “greens”. I’m not sure if belly button lint qualifies though.

  26. Lisa says:

    if you add some epsom salts, when it burns you get funky blue and green colors.

    and if you add some essential oil like eucalyptus, it smells nice too.

  27. Sarah says:

    We love making these, but we use yarn,thread and fabric scraps as we are overrun with those.

  28. jennifer says:

    Awwww! you tried them! i was wondering! i’m so thrilled to have turned you on to something! and FINALLY! a fabulous tutorial on them! yours is the best! PERFECT! my husband suggested using bacon fat in place of the wax since he saw that i had stored up a jar in my fridge. well i made a couple for fun (mostly just to shut him up) and HOT DAMN! they work too! a rather expensive wax alternative though! say hi to the pancreas! HAHA! you my day for sure 🙂

  29. Rose says:

    Gotta tell you, that red belly button lint. . . . maybe you should see someone for that. =)
    Now all I need is a house with a fireplace. Then let the firestarter making begin!!!!

  30. Karen says:

    This is when I completely hate my gas burning fireplace.. I wanna make egg-carton fire starters too… 🙁 I feel like the kid in the playground who never got picked for a team.. Hey?? but I do have an out door fire pit… I guess I can make them!! Yay…

  31. Leslie Zuroski says:

    Cool! Now I know what to do with my candle nubbins! (I’ve made new candles with them before but not very well.)

  32. Karen says:

    Elizabeth – For what it’s worth … I actually wondered about wax starters so I asked my chimney sweet about these a couple of years ago (actually the sawdust and wax starters that you buy at the store) and he said they’re fine. The wax burns off just like it does with a candle so it’s not like your chimney gets coated in wax. ~ karen

  33. Karen says:

    Nicole2 – Heh. People bring me egg cartons now so I have them when people need eggs and forget to bring me their baskets. (I give everyone a small wicker basket for their eggs and when they want some, they’re to bring it to my house and I fill it) ~ karen

  34. Yay! A use for dryer lint; I’ve been putting it (reluctantly) in the compost bin, this is much better.
    I wondered about the chimney too, so glad to hear that, must dash and phone the chinmey sweep now, cos it’s been well over a year since it was cleaned and I don’t want my egg-carton-firelighters blamed!

  35. Kristen S says:

    My Mom does this, but with Tim Hortons cup trays. She says they are bigger and burn longer. (size and longevity do matter)

  36. Nathalie says:

    I went on my first solo camping trip last year and made these, they worked great! You can also fold the tips over and tie them with embroidery floss/twine and dip them in the wax to make them water proof.

    Bless you, you have red belly button lint 😛

  37. alison says:

    I want red dryer lint! How the heck???

  38. Judy Murray says:

    I’m a Brownie leader and we still teach this to the girls for camp. Girls love a fire on a cold night and don’t forget smores.

  39. lindyb says:

    I thought the same thing – ‘Her dryer lint is pretty!’

  40. Jane says:

    Do you know how to make ‘spills’ of newspaper to light fires? They look a bit like long matches. They are rolled tightly with a triangular bit folded on the end to light well; and look quite nice. My mother used to make them, but I, unfortunately, did not learn..

  41. Nancy says:

    I have seen this before but never tried them..I could make some for our outdoor fire pit as I have extra wax here I was going to make another candle with and there is always plenty of dryer lint..just not the fancy red variety…

  42. Brandi says:

    I’ve been saving candle-stick stubs for years just knowing I’d find a use for them. My husband thought I was crazy. Now I can prove him wrong. Bwa ha ha! Also, this will make a great present for my in-laws who all have fireplaces.

  43. Bri says:

    I started making these a few years ago. I’m pretty hopeless at starting a fire in general, but without these it’s truly pathetic. I just keep a pint mason jar by the dryer, when it’s full I know I have enough lint to make a batch of firestarters. Because you never know when you might need more! I will say that the ones with cedar chips in them are much prettier than ones with dryer lint.

  44. Laura Bee says:

    mmm..bacon fat, your house must smell marvelous. Is there nothing bacon cannot do?!

  45. Chau says:

    Love this stuff. I’ll try it as soon as I collect enough lint. Thanks Karen.

  46. Karen says:

    You bet. Don’t forget you can use cotton balls or paper towels too. ~ k!

  47. LARPkitten says:

    We’ve been making these at home, with a little twist:

    Occasionally, one of us will get a hankering for bacon. Especially bacon sandwiches. Mmmm. And it’s really quick and easy to make bacon in the microwave, just by sandwiching the strips between paper towels. Keeps the bacon nice and flat for sammiches. Mmmm. And well, since we have all these grease-soaked paper towels already, we just wad them up and stuff them in the egg cartons! And then when we light up the fire, we get the smell of bacon! Which makes us crave bacon sammiches. Mmmm. Repeat cycle. Neverending firestarters.

  48. Karen says:

    and …. now I want bacon sandwiches for dinner. ~ karen

  49. Kasia says:

    Okay, been thinking this for awhile, now I’ve got to ask. What kind of camera do you use?? How do you make your photos look so incredibly awesome?? I’m really, I’ve never seen a more beautiful egg carton! Any tips or tricks you can share with us?

  50. Cindy Marlow says:

    I was having no luck starting the wood stove this morning. Damp air and damp wood were ruining my efforts. I took a bag of cinnamon scented pine cones that have been hanging around for about three years and poured wax all over them. Three of these in the stove got a roaring fire going. Thanks for the timely hint. Next up…gathering some belly button lint from all the family to make egg carton fire starters!

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