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01/05/2012 / thriftomancer

Dryer Lint Fire Starters

Hoy all, I figured that now that you’ve got a fire built, you could use something to light it with.

A fire starter is a piece of highly flammable material, often a mixture of wood products and wax, that you can easily set aflame with a lighter or other convenient fire source, such as a torch or flamethrower. The idea being that, instead of fiddling around trying to start the kindling with your lighter, you can just toss this burning ball of stuff onto it and let that do the work for you. There are a lot of ways to make them, usually on the cheap with materials the rest of the world considers trash (old candle stubs, dryer lint, sawdust, cotton rags, ect.), but as long as the end product burns reliably, it’ll do.

This time around I have but one tutorial for you all. I found tons, but this is the only one I felt like passing along:

Waterproof Dryer Lint Fire-Starter

It stood out to me because not only is it well-written, the finished product actually looks cool, especially when compared to the normal designs you see for fire starters where they’re just a big, waxy mess of sawdust in a cup. These are rather elegant.

After seeing that tutorial, I had to make some. The fact that we’d run out of eggs so I had an empty carton on hand and that I’d yet to put my wax supplies away so it was convenient had nothing to do with my decision. I swear.

These are my dozen that I whipped up yesterday before work.

Fire Starters cooling

I had a fun time convincing my family that they weren’t actually candy and should not be eaten. To their credit, the wax I used does look a bit like icing from a distance. Kinda.

While I followed the tutorial for the most part, I did make a few changes for safety and convenience. The big one is I didn’t use dryer lint as my flammable stuffing. I’m normally not in the habit of saving my dryer lint, so I didn’t have any on hand (convenience). Even if I did have some, with the way my laundry’s done I would really have no clue how much of that lint is natural fiber and how much is synthetic (safety). Breathing fumes from burning plastic is not high on my list of hobbies, so I decided to substitute a few ingredients for the sake of my lungs instead of risk it.

Instead of lint I used cotton, linen, and hemp threads that I got from picking apart fabric scraps left over from my various sewing projects. It took me about a half hour to pull apart an amount of fabric about equal to the collar of a man’s dress shirt. That plus about twelve feet of cotton twine was plenty of fluffy flammable stuff to put inside the starters.

Fire Starter Stuffing

The green is cotton, the bits of blue and white are the linen below it, and below that is the hemp and cotton twine.

My other change was that, instead of cutting it off close, I left a bit of the string I used when dipping the starters in the wax intact to serve as a wick/fuse when lighting them. Figured it might help speed things up by providing a smaller portion of mass to heat at once. (Small amounts of mass require less energy to warm up and thus less energy to start on fire. That means a lighter shouldn’t have to be held on them as long if I’ve got the wick.) Unfortunately I won’t be able to test my hypothesis until the next time I need to start a fire, tsk.


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