How To Make Inexpensive Homemade Fire Starters
This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy for more information.
One of the frugal ways we like to enjoy a night with friends is to sit around a fire outdoors. Good conversation while you enjoy the mesmerizing dance and flicker of the flames is truly one of life’s simple pleasures. And how do we get our campfire time started off on a happy note? By lighting the fire quickly and easily with a couple of my DIY wax fire starters!
I really love these little homemade fire starters not only because they work so efficiently, they’re also a perfect cheapskate project too. Because do you know what homemade fire starters are made of? They’re made of stuff you normally just throw away or recycle. No kidding 🙂
What You Need To Make Homemade Fire Starters
Here’s our cheapskate supply list for making this little craft:
- A Cardboard Egg Carton with the top cut off
- Dryer Lint
- Old Candles (or crayons) to use for wax
- Clean Empty Tin Can (for melting the wax)
See what I mean? All of these are very frugal supplies. And hey, you gotta love a project that uses dryer lint. That’s one of the cheapest supplies you’ll ever use!
And when all of these ingredients are combined together, (cardboard, lint, and wax), you have exactly what you need to get a slower burn for kindling that lasts a good 10 minutes instead of the very quick burn you might get if you use something like newspaper for a fire starter. Let’s take a closer look at the steps you’ll use to make your own fire starters.
How to Make Fire Starters Using Egg Cartons, Dryer Lint, and Wax
Step 1: Fill the Egg Carton Cups with the Dryer Lint
To begin making your homemade fire starters, you’ll put some of the dryer lint in each of the cup sections or your cardboard egg carton. I pack the lint in until the cup section is filled. You might have to collect your dryer lint for a couple weeks to be sure you enough to fill the 12 cup sections of your egg carton.
Step 2: Melt The Wax using your Tin Can
Place whatever you are using for wax in the empty tin can. I like to use old candles that I find at cheap prices in second hand stores. You will probably need about three candles. You can also use other wax such as old crayons with their wrappers removed.
Place the can with the wax into a small pan of water (you only need an inch or two of water in the pan) and place it on the stove. Heat over medium heat until the wax is completely melted. This can take a little patience! You can also cut your candles into smaller pieces to make things go a little faster. I keep the water in the pan at a high simmer (almost a gentle boil) until everything is melted.
I sometimes poke things around with a wooden skewer because it makes me feel like I’m helping things along. The skewer is also a good tool for removing the candle wicks once everything is melted.
Step 3: Pour the Melted Wax over the Lint
Once the wax is all melted, you can pour it over the lint that’s packed in your egg carton. It’s a good idea to lay something down to protect the surface under your egg carton (I use an old towel) before proceeding with this step because drips of hot wax might happen, or wax can occasionally soak through an area of the cardboard egg carton too. Use an oven mitt when handling the hot tin can (I use my Ove Glove!). Pour some of the wax over each lint-filled section of the egg carton, covering the lint as completely as you can.
Step 4: Let the Wax Harden and Then Cut Apart
Now the main work is finished and you’ll just need to let the wax harden and cool which will take a few hours. Once the wax is hardened, you can cut the sections apart and you’ve got a dozen handy little fire starters!
When it’s time to light your fire, put a few of your fire starters in the bottom of your fire pit and light the edges. The cardboard catches quickly and the wax keeps them burning as you add the logs to the fire.
Don’t worry if your DIY fire starters have little pointed cardboard corners sticking up after you cut them apart. Those are the perfect place to light them!
We love our homemade fire starters!
I’ve been making these fire starters for almost 10 years now and let me tell you, they work wonderfully. They make starting a fire so much more enjoyable and easy. I think the wax is the key that keeps them burning steadily for enough time to get the larger logs in your fire to catch too.
I have a friend who makes lots and lots of these fire starters every year to give as Christmas gifts. Her husband does carpentry work so she has access to plenty of sawdust which she says can also work in place of the dryer lint. I have these fire starters on my list of frugal gift exchange ideas too!
So if you enjoy relaxing around a fire, I know you’ll find these fire starters to be handy little helpers. Once you get used to using them, you won’t know what to do without them!
This post was first published August, 2012 and updated October, 2021. Here’s a photo from the original post of the first fire we made using this type of handy fire starter, and we’ve been loving them even since!
To Read Next: How to Make A Birdfeeder from an Old Log
Homemade Fire Starters
- Clean Empty Tin Can
- Sauce Pan to use on the stove
- Cardboard Egg Carton (with the lid cut off)
- Dryer Lint
- Old Candles (or crayons, or other wax)
- Begin by filling each section of the egg carton with some of the dryer lint.
- Put the candles (or whatever wax you are using) into the tin can. You may wish to cut the candles into smaller pieces. Then place the can into a pan that has an inch or two of water in it.
- Heat over medium heat on the stove. As the water in the pan heats up, it will begin to melt the wax in the can. Keep the water in the pan at a high simmer or a gentle boil until all the wax is melted. (Do not get any water in the can). This step can take 20 to 30 minutes. I use a wooden skewer to then remove the candle wicks from the melted wax in the can.
- Next, pour the melted wax over the dryer lint in the egg carton cups, covering the dryer lint as completely as you can. Be sure to use an oven mitt when handling the hot tin can. You may wish to lay down something such as an old towel to protect your work surface from drips of wax during this step too.
- Let the wax harden up which will probably take a couple of hours.
- Once the wax is completely hardened, cut apart the egg carton sections using a scissors to create 12 individual fire starters.
- To use the fire starters: Place a couple of the fire starters in your fire pit with whatever kindling or small logs you want to get started, and then light a corner of the fire starter. The wax and lint in the fire starter should keep it burning steadily for about 10 minutes so that larger pieces of wood can easily catch and start burning.
Hi there. Another idea is to use the toilet paper roll and fill with lint. We keep these in the camper. But I am going to make some egg carton ones with old candles we have.
I’ve heard about the toilet paper roll version too and they are definitely a quick DIY fire starter you can make. But I always think the wax in the egg carton version helps them to burn just a bit longer.
Hi Bev! Just have to tell you how much I love these little things. I am making a bunch to give at our next Christmas party for my male friends, and I think these will be perfect. I didn’t have enough lint saved up, so I supplemented with sawdust and I am using up all of my old, green, pine-scented candles for the wax so they look nice and even smell great and outdoorsy! I am sure the guys will be able to put these to good use — probably even before summer. Thanks for a fun and useful DIY project!
I love your idea to give these to male friends as gifts (and your idea to use leftover pine scented candles)! We think these little things are awesome too. We almost feel like we can’t start our fires without them now 🙂
You can use sawdust.
I use cotton balls and vaseline. I love the egg carton. Will try that on the next batch. thank you.
A candle warmer what work as a safer alternative to the tipsy can on the stove for melting the wax
Not sure what a candle warmer is . . . ?
Would cotton wool do? If you soaked that with the wax etc….should be nearly as good as lint? (I don’t have a dryer either).
Sorry – a quick thought. I’m an avid knitter. Would my wool offcuts suffice instead of dryer lint?
Tamra – Your idea of using leftover yarn/wool sounds like a good substitute for dryer lint. I think if you would cut them into smaller pieces (maybe a couple inches long) and unravel them a bit, it should work! I have also seen firestarters like this made with sawdust instead of dryer lint. But unless you know a carpenter, most of us have a harder time finding sawdust than dryer lint 🙂 Sometimes natural outdoor materials are used too such as pinecones, pine needles, or woodchips.
Can you suggest anything else I could replace the dryer lint with (I don’t have a dryer)? Love this idea!
i use old new paper. cut it up in really tiny pieces it is better to use a paper shredder. easier any way.