I first talked about making firelighters wayyyyy back in my second month of blogging. I hadn’t tried to make them at that time, but in the four years since I have made them often. They work a treat, and cost me absolutely nothing but the time (and electricity) it takes to make them. These firelighters are made entirely out of things most people would throw away without a second thought.
This is a small shoebox full of lint. I save it everytime I clean the dryer filter. There is a lot of hair and fur in our lint, of course. No matter, we all know hair burns nicely. Unless the trap is full of fur from washing the dog bed, in which case it is 100% hair and not worth keeping.
Next? Paper egg cartons!
I cut the pointy bits off, to make separation of the individual cells easier once the lighters are finished. The great thing is that all those little points – other than being great fun to put on your fingertips and make creepy noises and theatrically scary movements at the other (human or not) occupants of the house – is that they are compostable. Being the plant fanatic that I am, of course I have a big compost bin for making my own good soil. In they go!
Lastly, used wax!
You can use the stubs of candles, if you aren’t nutso like me and save those for making new candles. In our case, we eat a lot of cheese. Cheese that is coated in wax! So hubby and I save the wax coatings and after a few months, you have a lot of wax! Baby Bell is so yummy. It’s my breakfast five days a week.
After cutting the pointy bits from the cartons, I stuffed the cells with lint. I do try to keep each one separate, for ease of tearing apart when finished.
You kind of get a feel for how much lint to use after a few goes at it. I did try to use less, but then it took two to get a fire lit. More lint=more heat. I use about this much per cell: but my hands aren’t small and this is a quite dense lump of lint. So kind of a pointless picture, actually. Meh.
I will say that this process is messy. Dusty. I’ve had to clean lint dust out of my nose afterward. Purple or grey nose goo! Says a lot about the colour of fabric we wear, or own.
I had way more egg-cartons than lint, so when I was done lint-stuffing, I moved to wax-melting. I have a small, €1 pot that is just used for wax. It really isn’t worth doing this if you have to wash out the wax after – wax smells strongly, sticks to everything, and requires a lot of hot water and towels to remove. I also have a crappy little teaspoon just for this job. It could be bigger, but it is what I have.
Melting wax! Once it is liquid, spoon a bit over each lump of lint. For my tiny spoon, it takes three spoonfuls. I use the spoon to poke the lint down, too. Sometimes if the wax is really hot, and the lint sizzles a bit as it settles. But it won’t catch on fire.
Half-waxed. Wax-on, wax-off?
Wow, look at all the hair. Eww. Two cats, one thick-furred dog, and two humans with super long hair. This is why I love a dryer, despite the electricity used. It does take a lot of the fur off our clothing. Not all. Never all!
I figured out today that the unused extra cartons make a good platform for cooling off the finished product. One dozen-sized carton can cool three dozen lighters, with no worry about getting wax on your countertop or table.
A few common-sense tips. Put paper or cardboard down before dishing out the hot wax. It gets everywhere, no matter how careful you are. I use an expired credit card to scrape up any messes that hit the stovetop or counter. Make sure to clean any drips off your pot before putting it back on to the heat. Don’t use plastic or styrene egg cartons, just paper ones. And if your hob is gas, make these well away from the flame, or turn it off while working with such inflammable materials. Am I covered? I hope so – but I am going to have to state that I am not responsible for any accidents or injuries incurred by following my advice.
That is it – once cool, one cell of the carton should be enough to light your house fireplace, or even your charcoal BBQ grill (but it’s wise to let the firelighters burn up completely before you get food near it – you will have no idea what chemicals are in fabric lint, after all! And who wants to eat food that smells of burnt hair, yuk).