Do It Yourself(DIY) fire starters for your next camping trip

do it yourself fire starters

Everyone (well, almost everyone!) loves DIY (Do-It-Yourself) hacks. And what better place to exhibit your innovative improvisation than on your next camping trip? In this article, we look at some of the most ingenious DIY fire-starters that you can make right at home by using the common household items. And the best part is that they do not cost more than a few bucks if any. Some of them make a worthy addition to your bug out bags and emergency kits.

Some of the hacks we list are so easy to follow, that even your teenage kids can try them out under supervision. So, check them out, make them and use them on your next outdoor trip. And do not forget to tell us how it went!!

How to make a fire starter with toilet paper roll and dryer lint?

Forgot those tinder logs for your backyard or camp fire?

The dryer lint left out after a wash cycle is an excellent source of inflammable material to make a fire-starter. And using it and your discarded Toilet Paper rolls, you can make some excellent fire starters.

This gives you one more reason to keep your clothes dryer clean (The other more important reason being to prevent home cloth-dryer fires).

What you will need?

  • Dryer Lint: The best lint to use for this is one rich in cotton content: shirts, jeans, innerwear and bedsheets make excellent lint.
  • Toilet Paper rolls: Thin cardboard rolls on which toilet paper is wound.
  • Pencil Shavings or Saw dust.
  • (Optional): Lamp Oil/Domestic Isopropyl Alcohol/Paraffin Wax from discarded candles.

lint
toilet paper rolls
pencil shavings
CANDLE WAX
lamp and candle oil

The process to make a toilet paper roll and dryer lint fire starter

  1. Take a toilet paper roll. Make sure it is fully dry. Place is side up on a plain surface on a cardboard or newspaper that you can discard later.
  2. Fill the roll with dryer lint, till it is half filled. Do not overstuff, though you can fill the lower half more snuggly than the top. Some space is necessary for air to flow while the roll and the lint burns. And if you are adding wax or fuel oil, it needs space to flow.
  3. Add some pencil shavings or saw dust in the middle. These are excellent fire-accelerants and would help in smooth burning.
  4. Add some more lint to fill the roll completely.
  5. (Optional) If you want, you can pour some domestic Isopropyl alcohol, lamp oil or liquid wax on the top and leave it for some time to let it soak in the lint. The detailed steps on how to heat up the candle-wax to get liquid-wax are given in the section below, but in simple terms put the solid wax in a tin can and place it in a pan. Add water to the pan and boil it till the wax in the can melts. Never heat the wax directly on open flame or burner as it can catch fire and cause injury.
  6. Let the lint absorb the wax or alcohol/oil. The fire-starter rolls are now ready.
  7. Pack the fire starters in a Ziploc bag or separately in plastic sheets like candy and you are good to go.

How to use a toilet paper roll fire starter?

Place the toilet roll surrounded by twigs and wood logs. Light it up and you will have the fire starter kindling your fire. The lint would burn faster than the roll, which would act as a fire extender. This kind of fire starters are good to last about 12-15 minutes.

Improvisations

You can try out the following improvisations or alternatives to the toilet roll fire-starter.

  • You can also use the 99-cent cotton balls instead of lint to fill the roll. In fact, cotton balls burn better than lint, though the lint lasts longer.
  • Petroleum jelly is an excellent fire extender. If you want to increase the burn-time, you can dab some of the lint in Vaseline before adding it to the roll.
  • Inserting some dried sage leaves in the roll or adding a few drops of Neem or Eucalyptus oil to the lint will help you keep the mosquitoes, flies and other insects away from the fire.
  • Instead of using the pencil shavings or saw dust, you can also use wax shavings from a discarded candle. You can even add a cheap birthday candle (another 99-cent item) to the middle of lint-filling to have the fire last longer.
  • If you want a longer fire-starter log, you can use the discarded roll from the kitchen towel. However, you may have to add multiple layers of shavings to expedite the inflammation.

How to make a fire starter with mop strings and liquid wax or lamp oil?

Want your campfire or backyard fire to burn smoothly and uniformly? Then you need to try out the mop string fire-starter.
The strings in the mop head are made from 100% cotton (so that they can absorb water and dirt) and are essentially the same material you would find in candle wicks. And each wax-coated string can last 5-10 minutes, depending upon the length. So, you can have excellent fire-starters for kindling the fire using the mop strings.

What you will need?

  • Discarded Mop Head: If you want a new one, the cheapest one costs around 5 bucks.
  • Candle or other paraffin wax.
  • Pencil Shavings or Saw dust: Good to have but not necessary.

discarded mop heads
pencil shavings
CANDLE WAX

The process to make a fire starter from mop strings

  1. Take the discarded mop and cut mop strings in desired size. For short 5-min fire tinder, you can cut them into 1-inch lengths, but for longer uniform fire-starters, you need to go with a length of 2-4 inches.
  2. Roll one of the ends with hand to form a pointed shape. (This would make it easy for the string to catch fire). Alternatively, you can cut some threads in the strand from one side.
  3. Heat up some candle wax to turn it into a liquid. The detailed steps on how you can do this are given in the section at the end, but in simple terms put the solid wax in a tin can and place it in a pan. Add water to the pan and boil it, till the wax in the can melts and liquefies. Never heat the wax directly on open flame or burner as it can catch fire and cause injury.
  4. Once the wax has melted, add the mop strings to the vessel and let it stand for few minutes till the strings soak up well and absorb the wax.
  5. Before the wax can cool down and solidify, take out the strings out of the can and place them on a newspaper, cardboard to prevent any wax from spilling on the surface.
  6. Sprinkle some saw dust or crushed pencil shavings on the strings. These would act as excellent fire- accelerants. If you do not have them, don’t worry and skip this step.
  7. Let the wax solidify and you are good to go.

How to use a mop head fire starter?

To use simply lighten up the pointed side of a mop string. A one inch string would last around 4-5 minutes, a 3-inch long string would last 9-10 minutes. So, a mop head can give you a good number of inexpensive fire starters.

Improvisations

There are not many improvisations required for such a simple fire-starter, but if you want you can try soaking the mop strings into domestic rubbing alcohol (no, not your wine bottle) or lamp oil instead of coating it with wax. Once the strings are properly soaked, instead of letting the alcohol evaporate, put the strings in a Ziploc bag for use on your next trip.

Another improvisation that you can do for long strands (3-inch or more) is to wrap the middle of the string with some thin aluminum foil. This would extend the burning time a little, but is of not much value for small strings.

How to make a fire starter with cotton pads and liquid wax or petroleum jelly?

Looking for an effective DIY fire starter that is so easy to make that even your ten-year-old can help you make? Cotton pad fire starters are one such option. They have been so popular that many people even choose to carry them in backpacks or purses for emergency situations.

This fire starter is essentially a variant of the ever-popular wax or Vaseline-coated cotton ball tinder, which is extremely popular among outdoor lovers.

What you will need?

  • New or discarded cotton pads. (The ones ladies use for cleaning up makeup)
  • Candle or other paraffin wax or petroleum jelly like Vaseline.

cotton pads
CANDLE WAX

The process to make a fire starter from cotton pads and wax

  1. Take a bunch discarded or new cotton pads and spread them on a newspaper/cardboard/foil.
  2. Heat up some candle wax to turn it into liquid. You can use discarded candles, crayons or even get a block of paraffin wax from neighborhood store (it’s pretty cheap). The detailed steps on how you can do this are given in the section at the end, but in simple terms put the solid wax in a tin can and place it in a pan. Add water to the pan and boil it till the wax in the can melts into a liquid. Never heat the wax directly on open flame or burner as it can catch fire and cause injury.
  3. Generously dip a cotton pad in the heated liquid wax. You can use a plier, tweezer or a kitchen-tong. Let it soak up the wax for 15-20 seconds and then take it out. Repeat this process with all the pads.
  4. As an alternative to Steps 2 and 3, you can use the petroleum jelly and coat the cotton pads generously with Vaseline. Vaseline pads light up faster, but also burn out quicker.
  5. Let the cotton pads dry on the newspaper/cardboard and you have. Once dried, you can put them in small Ziploc bags and you have ever-reliable cotton pad fire-starters to use when required.

How to use a cotton pad fire starter?

To use, simply light-up the pad and you will have a steady flame for about 3-5 minutes per pad. Because of their lighter weight, such fire-starters are quite popular among backpackers and hiker who use it as tinder.

Improvisations

In our experience, the wax-coated pads last longer and burn more steadily when compared with the Vaseline-coated pads. If you want to make the Vaseline ones last longer, just wrap them in some aluminum foil and they will last a little bit longer.

How to make a fire starter with egg cartons and dryer lint?

This is a long-time classic. You can use the regular cardboard egg carton and some dryer lint to make an easy-to-use fire starter. There are a lot of variants of the egg-carton fire-starters, but we are going to look at the two most common.

What you will need?

  • Dryer Lint: The best lint to use for this is one rich in cotton content: shirts, jeans, innerwear and bedsheets make excellent lint.
  • Egg carton: The traditional one, not the one made with Styrofoam.
  • Candle or other paraffin wax.
  • Pencil Shavings or Saw dust: Good to have but not necessary.
  • (Optional) Dental floss wire: Floss wire to tie-up a variant of the carton fire-starter.

egg cartons
lint
pencil shavings
CANDLE WAX

The process to make a fire starter from egg cartons

  1. Take some dryer lint and ensure it is dry and nicely segregated.
  2. Take the egg carton and cut it along the side to separate the crate from the top. Place it on a foil sheet or a couple of layers of newspaper to avoid any mess.
  3. Fill each section with dryer lint. Do not overstuff as you need space for the wax to flow and soak-up the lint.
  4. Heat up some candle wax to turn it into liquid. You can use discarded candles, crayons and other what-not or even get a block of paraffin wax from a neighborhood store. The detailed steps on how you can do this are given in the section at the end, but in simple terms put the solid wax in a tin can and place it in a pan. Add water to the pan and boil it till the wax in the can melts and liquefies. Never heat the wax directly on open flame or burner as it can catch fire and cause injury.
  5. Now you have two options. You can choose to take the wax in the pan and pour it in each of the sections in the crate, add some saw dust or pencil shavings and let it cool down. Once wax solidifies, you can cut each section to form an egg-carton fire-starter.
  6. Alternatively, you can cut each of the sections tie them around with a dental floss and submerge in the liquid wax. We love this technique more, because it sounds cooler and because the resulting fire-starter lasts longer. Let each unit stand in for 10-15 seconds and take it out to place on the paper or foil to dry down. Once the wax solidifies, cut the floss wire appropriately and you have an excellent fire-starter.

How to use a egg carton fire starter?

To use, simply light-up each unit and you will have a steady flame for about 12-15 minutes per fire-starter. You can use a bunch of these to ensure that you have a steady camp fire in no time. And you can even try out some improvisations.

Improvisations

The major variations you can do with the egg-carton fire-starter is the filling you use. You can use cotton balls, pencil shavings, wood shavings, saw dust, even pet hair. You can also mix and match, by adding a Vaseline coated cotton ball in the middle and lint on the sides.

The below infographic sums up the fire starters we discussed above in a nice graphical way

Quick do it yourself diy Firestarters for camping

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Miscellaneous Fire-starters and accelerants

In addition to the 4 excellent DIY fire starters listed above, there are quite a few fire accelerants and starters that you can try out:

  • The most popular tinder is to use cotton balls. Simply coat some cotton balls with Vaseline, lamp oil or liquid wax, let them dry and put in a small Ziploc bag for use.
  • You can use the wooden corks from your wine bottles, soak them in alcohol or lamp oil by putting them in a bottle and adding liquid. Let them stand overnight and then pack them up in small Ziploc bags. These cork fire-accelerants are now ready to use. They are, however, more suitable for kindling the fire than starting it.
  • Crayons make excellent fire-starters. When lighted on fire, they can burn for an extended amount of time, close to 30 minutes, which makes them an excellent tinder or makeshift candle.
  • Toiletries such as alcohol-based hand sanitizers and nail polish removers can also be used to accelerate a fire.

How to melt candle or paraffin wax to liquid?

Many of the hacks we discussed above and some others in the field may require you to melt some paraffin(candle) wax. You should not directly heat it up on burner or flames because of the risk of overheating and fire.
So how do you heat up those discarded candles, crayons and wax blocks?
The best solution would be to use a double boiler. But if you do not have it handy, you can simply follow the steps below to indirectly melt the wax.

  1. Place the solid wax in a tin can. coffee, soup or pickle cans are great options.
  2. Take a cooking pan big enough to fit the can and more.
  3. Add enough water to the pan so that the level would be high enough to heat the can. Place the tin can in the middle of the pan.
  4. Start the burner to start heating the water.
  5. As the water boils, it would heat up the wax in the can and melt it. Stir occasionally, but ensure that the water does not enter the can.
  6. Turn off the burner once the wax has totally melted and liquefied.

Never heat up the wax directly on flames or burner as it can cause the wax to overheat and catch fire. Also, do not microwave the wax blocks.

Final thoughts

In this article, we looked at four excellent Do-It-Yourself (DIY) fire-starters that would help you in getting your camp or backyard fire started without a lot of fuss and a lot of investment.
We looked at the steps to follow to use common household items to make these fire-starters, how they perform in the field and how you can implement some improvisations to these DIY fire-kindlers. We also looked at some other additional hacks that can serve as excellent tinder to kindle the campfire.
We hope that you found this article useful and would try out some of the hacks we shared here. Do not forget to share your feedback by commenting below. Also, check out our article on camping tips and tricks for some more hacks to try out on your next outdoor trip.

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