*Making Simple Firestarters*
We make simple firestarters here using the paper egg cartons that are gathered from around the neighborhood and too small for us to give our chicken people to use. (I think it's normal that home grown eggs are XL compared to the German standard store brand medium.)
It's pretty easy...
I had picked up at JoAnns or Michaels or some craft store, bricks of candle wax on clearance (ya know, cause they expire and stuff - hehheh). I must have bought six or seven of these and this is the smallest one left (it's a 4lbs'er), all I have now are even bigger. I cut off about 1.5in-2in for 3 cartons and had plenty of melted wax.
This brick is good for at least a winter of fires. The wax is just used as a binder and to slow the burn down a little to give it time to "start the kindling".
Once we have a fire going we usually keep a pot of water on the stove anyway so I use a cheap garage sale pot (like 1qt size) and just rest it inside like a double boiler. You don't want to use one of your wife's cooking pots for this, and it's pretty easy to find a cheap pot that you won't use but a few times a year, and you really don't wanna have to try and clean a fine layer of wax out of a good pot.
While the wax is melting, and since it's a "double boiler", you really don't have to bird dog it. As long as it's sitting in the water, it's not gonna get hot enough to light or anything. We prepare the "cups".
Take the egg cartons; tear off the tops and the attached tabs, then give the tabs to the kids to tear into little bitty pieces that you put back in the cups. Then grab some other easy burn fuel, normally we use dryer lint as we have plenty of it. Pack the cups to just over the "spill point" where the cup attaches to the next one. This will compress a little more when it gets wet with wax if you use dryer lint. We had a container of cast off pencil shavings from the kids' school pencils, so we are trying those this time. We have also used sawdust (the scrapings out of the bottom of the firewood carrier are perfect for this).
Put the cups onto a cookie sheet with a few layers of newspaper under them. (The wax will soak through the bottom of the cups, and you don't want to clean wax off momma's prize cookie sheet!!!).
Pour the wax gently over the cups till they run into the next one, like filling an ice tray. Put them outside to cool. I usually give them a few minutes to harden, then pull them off the paper so they don't stick fast. (It really doesn't matter if you have more wax soaked flammable material attached to a firestarter though, does it, hehheh.) It takes 15 - 30 min depending on how cold it is outside, and you really do want to cool them or the wax will soak through the bottom of the cups and you really want it INSIDE your "product".
Once cooled they look like this...
And, to separate the cups, I just use a small cleaver we have. I leave the "tails" on and use those as a wick.
Just pack them up in something to keep them from rolling all over the place and you are ready to go for a while. I generally do batches of 3 or 4 cartons at a time. Which is 36-48 fires, you really only need one of these (and maybe 2 full pieces of newspaper) to get a fire going if you have good dry kindling and "starter wood".
Maybe I should do an article on how we build and feed a fire in our wood stove, I have been really surprised by how many of the neighbors just stuffed crap in and hoped it burned. They were amazed that we can keep our stove going all day on about half the wood they were using. There is *some* science to using a wood stove, surprisingly people don't seem to bother to research it at all.
Anyway, there's a simple project you can do with young kids, and they like using "their firestarter recipes" when we let them help set up the fire to start.Boceph00
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