Skill of the Month — Making Homemade Fire Starters

Today’s post is from my friend, Andrea. Andrea is one of those people you just can’t help but like! She is full of energy, enthusiasm, honesty, and drive.  She loves learning new things and sharing what she learns.  She is an incredibly creative person with a sincere desire to change, improve and grow as well as help others do the same.  Her posts give us all a peek into the things she is learning each month about self reliance.  They are fun because they are real!


I grew up camping every other weekend in the summer. I knew had to make a fire before I knew how to write my name. I also would make little firestarters with my mother as an afternoon project a few times a year. There are several ways to do this: the egg carton method (fairly popular), the Vaseline-cotton ball method (super easy, if a bit messy), and sawdust method (longest burning). I’ve even seen wax-dipped pine cones! All of these methods are wonderful, and honestly they are all fairly simple. However, I recently found a method that is so easy that I couldn’t believe that I had never though of it before.

There are only three ingredients to these fire starters. To tell the truth, the third one is even optional.  The best news: everything is free/recycled! Here’s your “to gather” list:

  1. Dryer lint (I store all mine in a empty and cleaned Clorox wipes container)
  2. Old toilet paper tubes
  3. Yellow pages or newspaper

Do you see where I’m going with this? You stuff the dryer lint in the old toilet paper tubes, then you wrap the newspaper around the tube and fold the ends into the openings. Yes, it’s that simple. Are you face-palming too now?

BUT WAIT! You still have room for personalization! Don’t want to fuss with the newspaper? You don’t have to; just stuff and call it good! Want to waterproof and add burn time? Then you can roll the finished tube in melted wax! Want smaller fire starters? Then just cut the tube in half before stuffing with lint. Like them prettier for your “glamping”  adventure? Then wrap those suckers in wrapping paper, twists the ends and add a bow or two! THE OPTIONS ARE ENDLESS!

Seriously though, I made ten of these little guys in about five minutes. My 11 month old son even did a pretty good job until he got curious about the flavor of lint. You can make a few to throw in a ziplock before a camping trip, store a whole bunch in a bucket as part of your emergency prep, or you can be like this gal here and keep them in a basket next to your fireplace for a pretty (and functional) piece of decoration. Maybe you could even add a few of those wax dipped pine cones I was mentioning before.

It should be noted that the burn time for these fire starters aren’t quite as long as those that involve melted wax. I averaged about a minute each time. In fair weather, this should me more then enough time to get a fire going. If it is super windy or even a bit wet, I would use one of the waxed fire starters. Better yet, pick up a few of these Wet Fire fire starters to keep for emergency use. However, for your average back yard fire pit, wood stove, or camping cookout, the basic toilet paper tube fire starter is a inexpensive way to recycle some otherwise useless trash.

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These firestarters can be made for free with items you already have at home.

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Becky is a wildlife enthusiast and pet and livestock care expert with a diploma in canine nutrition. With over a decade of experience in animal welfare, Becky lends her expertise to Simple Family Preparedness through insightful info about pets, livestock, bee keeping, and the practicalities of homesteading.

8 thoughts on “Skill of the Month — Making Homemade Fire Starters”

  1. Hey, just thought I’d share a little anecdote about these.

    My daughter was off at girl scout camp last week, so we wanted to let our son (who’s 3) enjoy a little bit of camp at home, too, and were going to make him some s’mores inside. Usually I’d use my brulee torch for it, but it ran out of fuel.

    So I grabbed an old soup can, punched a hole near the bottom and made one of these. Was perfect for roasting marshmallows for the three of us, and barely burned down. So… thanks for this tip!

    • Absolutely love this story! I might have to try that soon, I’ve had a hankering for s’mores for a while. Thank you so much for sharing.

  2. Thanks for this! I’ve been needing to make some for my emergency kits, but the only ones I was aware of were the egg carton ones and I just didn’t want to deal with melting wax. This is a good solution for right now. And maybe in the future I will add some of the Wet Fire.

    • Ditto to melting wax. I will still make the egg carton ones on rare occasions, but I am totally head over heels for this new method.

  3. Equally easy: petroleum jelly worked into cotton balls (pure PJ and cotton). Fluff ’em out a little bit and light ’em. Cheap, easy, can beat moisture too!

    • That’s actually the “Vaseline-cotton ball” method I mentioned. Super easy, and honestly my old “go to” recipe, but I find it a tad messy and I usually had to buy supplies. I do still keep a small bag of those in my camping kit because they are moisture proof and have a longer burn time, but I love finding ways to recycle “trash” for free. I reach for these guys 9 times out of 10 now.


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