Fire Starters

CAUTION: When melting paraffin wax , always use a double boiler or a can set in a pan of hot water. NEVER melt wax over direct heat since it can burst into flames very easily.

Jane Maddin
1st Orleans Pathfinders
Orleans, Ontario, Canada
Melted paraffin wax and cardboard egg cartons and dryer lint make some of the best fire starters you ever saw! Stuff a bit of dryer lint (highly flammable, by the way) into each egg holder and add some paraffin - don't fill them to the top, about 2/3 full is good, but half way will do fine too! Let them cool, or put them in the freezer. Then when they are set, use a serrated bladed knife and 'saw' them into individual fire starters. The wet won't hurt them, they aren't toxic, won't hurt the environment, you are reusing old things and they WORK!!!

Cadette / Senior Girl Scout Leader
El Camino Girl Scout Council
San Angelo, Texas, United States

All-time easiest fire starters at zero cost:

  • dryer lint
  • used toilet paper roll
  • wax paper liner from cereal box
Loosely stuff dryer lint into TP roll. Place in the cereal liner, roll up, twist ends to close. These take seconds to make, cost nothing, and any age level can make them. BTW why saw the egg carton/wax singles apart? They tear apart just fine, and who cares if it's not a thing of beauty? It's going up in smoke in a few seconds anyway.....

Dorie Kelley
Brownie Troop Leader 508/Nation's Capital Council Trainer
Bowie, MD, USA
Those cardboard egg cartons filled with paraffin wax do work great. However, I changed to using saw dust or wood shavings about 20 years ago when the dryer lint was no longer cotton but all types of synthetic material. Does work well in very wet weather. Otherwise, I chose to teach my girls they are "emergency" fire starters and they should be able to start a normal fire without one.

Rolling Hills Girl Scout Council
New Jersey, USA
I was told a few years ago that we should not use lint because some of the new fibers in fabrics can give off fumes when burnt. I have found that pencil shavings from pencil sharpeners work great. I even have my girls collect it from the pencil sharpeners at school and now I have enough shavings to last for the next several years!! :)
Sandy Keeney,br> Cadette Troop 497, Mid-Continent Council
Kansas City, Missouri, United State
I have heard it's the chemicals from the dryer sheets that make the fumes. Hm..who's to say? :) We like these egg carton fire starters because they work so well for charcoal (thus avoiding the liquid starter) - but we use sawdust. I get it from the school's wood shop - they generate it by the barrel!

Synthetic lint test

Lela C. Arnes
San Jacinto Girl Scout Council
Houston, Texas, United States
Do your own test. Dry a load of white cotton T-shirts or cotton terry towels--clean lint screen--how much lint is there?

Dry a load of permanent press/wash n wear cotton/poly shirts and blouses--clean lint screen--how much lint is there?

If your results are like mine, lots of lint from the cotton loads; very little lint from the mainly polyester loads.

Conclusion, lint does not come from synthetic fibers, only from the natural fibers. Therefore there should not be a concern in using dryer lint for making the egg carton fire starters.

Terri Miller
Brownie Leader, Beaver-Castle Girl Scouts
Pennsylvania, United States
Here is another type af fire starter that works well and is simple to make. Cut newspaper into 4 inch strips, roll up tight, tie with twine leaving about 2 inches of twine for dipping into paraffin wax. Dip the whole thing into the wax. Use the twine as a wick to light . I have not made these with my troop, yet, but learned it at an Outdoor Awareness Training with about 20 other leaders. We all got about 4 fire starters to take home.

Cheryl Hamm
Bristol Service Unit/Freedom Valley Girl Scout Council
Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, United States
After many years of trying several types of fire starters, I have now gone back to the basic wax in egg-carton type. I saw virtually no difference between the plain wax-only ones and the additives (charcoal, sawdust, lint, paper shred, etc) except that the plain wax stack better in the shed and are easier to make.

We only use them with charcoal or if we cannot find birch bark in rainy weather, but there is no difference in wood fires either.

Also, doesn't seem to make a difference whether you use paraffin or old candles melted down. (Crayons don't work too well).

Judy Bober
53 Calgary Guides/Camp Advisor
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Here are a few other fire starters:
  1. A KISS: Wrap small candle stubs in waxed paper and twist the ends.
  2. THE FUZZ STICK: Cut into the sides of a dry stick to make curls attached to the stick. Use this stick as a central fire stick. Build a tent of twigs around it.
  3. WATERPROOF MATCHES: Dip matches in paraffin. Store in metal container.
  4. HUNTER'S MATCHES: Wrap each match ( or a few together) with string up to the head. Secure with a half hitch. Dip in paraffin wax.
  5. BRIQUETS: Tie a briquet with string and dip in paraffin wax.
  6. PITCH: Use a small piece of wood to scrape pitch from a conifer tree. Place under tinder.

Bill Spofford
Leader, Cadette/Senior Troop 822 Commonwealth GS Council Chartered Organization Representative (COR), Boy Scout Troop 845 National Capitol Area Council
Stafford, Virginia,United States
Simply roll up a newspaper page loosely around a small dowel(1/4 inch). The looseness makes it easier to get the dowel out and gives more area for the wax to coat the paper. Tie a string (cotton) around it at every inch. Then cut the roll (after removing the dowel) between the strings. Dip in melted wax until the roll sinks, then lift out. You use a lot less wax than the egg carton type. I had my troop make a batch several years ago, and still have quite a few, since we only use them when necessary -- but when you need one, IT's NECESSARY!

I save wax from old candles, put in a 1 lb coffee can and melt in a small pot of water (double-boiler). Always do this outside if you have any open flames. One can about half full makes over 100 starters.

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