Thanks to Jan at Bobbypin's Boardwalk for saving us money, time, and irritation. Her guest poster on November 2, the clever Suzy from Suzy's Artsy Craftsy Sitcom, did a wonderful post on making beautifully colored pine cone firestarters for gifts.
We use our wood stove almost every day and for years and years our preferred firestarter has been a Duraflame log cut up into pieces and dropped in a inexpensive lunch bag. This year the logs took a HUGE jump in price and seemed to have gotten much harder to cut up. Hubby finally took the last one to the barn and attacked it with a saber saw which made a disgusting mess (not to mention gumming up the saw.)
After looking at Suzy's pine cones I thought, "Hmmmmmmmm, maybe I should Google fire starters." Holy cannoli - there were a gazillion sites eager to help us make firestarters. The most popular seems to be the cardboard egg carton/dryer lint one. Do I need to tell you not to use a Styrofoam carton? I didn't think so.
I happened to have two cardboard cartons just waiting for some lint. I kept the cartons on top of the dryer and until all the compartments were filled with lint.
This is an egg carton (in case you've never seen one) getting it's little compartments filled with lint.
I grabbed some paraffin (usually found where the canning supplies are located) and plopped it in a small can. I stuck the can in a saucepan with some hot water to melt the paraffin. Old candle stubs can be used and will save even more money. Do not overheat the paraffin as it can catch on fire.
Olive can to melt wax (although a bean or corn can would work just as well. Let your imagination soar on this one)...
When the paraffin was melted I spooned a bit into each compartment. Most sites recommended pouring it in but that approach seemed mighty sloppy to me. After the wax cooled I cut the carton up and, voila, twelve cute little firestarters. Guess what? They work every bit as good as the Duraflame chunks and cost about one cent apiece.
Cute little firestarter ready for wood stove...
Since most our eggs come from Costco and are in Styrofoam cartons, I'm branching out into toilet paper rolls sliced in half and stuffed with the wrapper and our used paper napkins. When I have a bunch ready to go I'll pull out the paper and spoon some paraffin on and stuff it back into the rolls.
Toilet paper rolls waiting for wax (tell the truth now - don't you sometimes wonder about uses for all those toilet paper rolls that get pitched in the trash?)
Our whole world is becoming consumed with stuff for firestarters. When I was gathering up some pistachio shells to pitch in the waste basket, hubby suggested putting them in some toilet paper rolls with a used paper napkin on each end to keep them from tumbling out. Isn't he clever?
Pistachio shells waiting to be of service to mankind...
If all this seems a bit "over-the-top" consider this. Most commercial firestarters cost anywhere from .50 to.75 cents each. Even using the lower figure that adds up to a whopping $15.00 per month versus about .30 cents per month for these cute little homemade ones. Now imagine if you could save $15.00 per month on 20 items or expenditures without a great outlay of time (this project took about 15 minutes.) That adds up to $300.00 per month in savings. Could you use an extra $300.00 per month?