Monday, October 28, 2013

C'mon Baby, Light My Fire

It is a romantic image: Air cold enough to see your breath and a nice hot fire to keep you warm. However, anyone who has ever been really cold and trying to get a fire started knows how frustrating and scary it can be. Wind, rain, a lighter that is dying, or even worse, just a couple of matches left in the pack, can send the blood pressure rising and the anxiety into overload. Well, to help alleviate the worry of not being able to get kindling to light quickly and easily, I am going to share a DIY that you can assemble from things you typically throw away or recycle. Collect the materials over time, assemble and store. You can store lots of these in a small area. In the time of an emergency or even when you are just trying to get a fire going in the hearth, you can use one of these and save yourself all that stress.

Supplies You Will Need:

  • Toilet Paper Tubes
  • Dryer Lint

Not a long list is it? Don't have a dryer? Ask your local laundromat or friends that use a washer and dryer. You will collect a ton pretty quick.

Now to Assemble:

  • Loosely pack each tube with the lint. Yes, It really is that simple.

How to Use:

Place the lint filled tube 3/4 of the way under the wood or charcoal you are trying to light. Using your lighter or match, light the lint inside the tube on fire. It will begin burning very quickly and then the tube itself will catch and burn more slowly. This is will assist your fire in having enough time to get the kindling to catch.

Storing Your Fire Starter Tubes:

Store the tubes squished flat with the lint inside. When you are ready to use one, open it up, re-fluff the lint in the tube, and follow the directions above. I store a bunch of these (about 50) in a gallon size resealable freezer bag. I just take one out as I need it and replace them when I use about 10. If you would like to put a bunch of these by (as in prepping or for the Zombie Apocalypse), you can vacuum seal them in lots of 50 to 100.
Magnesium Fire Starter

Now a Few Pointers for Those of You Who Don't Regularly Have to Light a Fire:

  • Safety first! Make sure the place where you are lighting the fire is safe. If inside, make sure there are no items that could catch fire close by. Make sure the flue is open in your hearth. If lighting a fire outside, make sure you have sand or water to help extinguish the fire if it gets too large. Be super careful on windy days or when burning a fire during the hot, dry summer.
  • Make sure there is enough air space. Fire requires oxygen to burn. Your lint cannot be tightly packed and your wood cannot either. You must have airspace!
  • Be prepared to fan the fire. You can blow on the flames/embers to get them going stronger, but you will get tired quickly. I keep an old paper fan (the kind with a wood handle, not the oriental kind) to fan my fire. It takes up very little space and is easy store. 
  • You can also use a magnesium fire starter to spark the lint. Magnesium is much more reliable than a lighter or matches and will work in wet conditions. 


  1. I wonder if these would work on the BBQ grill (I have been using junk mail to help me light the grill).

    1. Yes! I have used them for that very purpose. My "automatic" BBQ lighting button never seems to work. I used a really long lighter for a while, but I value my eyebrows. These work well.

  2. I can be a Do-It-Yourself person when it comes to fun, simple projects provided time permits. Funny thing with this one, I would not have the supplies needed on hand anyway...may as well purchase items created for that purpose.

    Rachel recently posted The 16 Habits of Highly Unsuccessful Women

    1. Toilet paper tubes are pretty universal. I bet friends or family would save you a few, along with that dryer lint. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. A girl guide at her very best! Thank you!

  4. Thanks, Caro! This is rather Girl Guides, isn't it?