We have little kids. And even though we camped a lot when I was a kid, the thought of taking four kids ages 7 and under out into the wilderness just doesn’t appeal to me yet. I think it will soon, but probably not until we’re out of the baby stage. Because camping with a baby just sounds hard.
But I’ve heard of a bunch of different DIY ideas for campfire starters. And since I love the idea of camping, I decided to try the ideas to see which one is the best. Because I’m not opposed to campfires…and we can do that in the backyard! Then the kids can all have a bath and go to bed. Which sounds perfect.
I tried four different starters. I had everything on hand except for wax, so the only additional purchase I made was about $3 at the craft store for some paraffin wax. I used 1/3 of the wax, so the additional cost for these was just under $1. Not bad for 27 campfire starters!
The first one I made was just dryer lint stuffed inside toilet paper tubes. Dryer lint and cardboard are both flammable…and then you’re reusing what would otherwise be trash. Great idea.
The second one was cotton rounds dipped in wax. Super light weight and small, perfect for camping. Especially backpacking.
The third one was dryer lint stuffed in the cups of a cardboard egg carton, then covered with wax. Again reusing something that would be garbage.
The fourth idea was dryer lint (are you seeing a theme here?) in paper muffin liners, covered with wax.
Making them was super easy, and quick too! I went and bought my wax at the craft store. It was $4.29, but with my 40% off coupon it was just under $3. Love a good deal!
It came with three bars of wax, so each was just under $1.
I cut one of the bars into three pieces and then put it in a double boiler (I got a clean, empty can of beans out of my recycle can, and put that in a pot of simmering water).
When the wax was melted, I started by dipping my cotton rounds. I tossed them in the can, and when they had soaked up some wax (about 3 seconds), I took them out with my long tweezers and let them dry on a piece of tin foil. I’m sure waxed or parchment paper is great, but I keep my tin foil next to my stove, so that’s what I used.
After I dipped 10 cotton rounds, I used the rest of the wax to pour over my egg carton and muffin liner lint cups.
I didn’t know how much to pour on, so I just used enough to cover most of the dryer lint. Until I ran out. The last one didn’t get very much wax.
The only thing left to do at this point was test them! I wasn’t planning on any campfires, so I grabbed my tinfoil from dipping the cotton rounds, and I tested my fire starters on the grill!
The only prep needed for any of the starters is to rip a cup off the egg carton, and tear the cotton round about half way down the middle. You just need some of the cotton fibers exposed so you have something to light.
It was windy when I tested these, but I figured that was more of a real life scenario for camping anyway. It was tricky to get the toilet paper tube and muffin paper starters to stay lit. No problems at all with the cotton round and egg carton cup.
Once they all caught, they lasted a lot longer than I was expecting. The toilet paper tube burned for 5 min 30 sec, the cotton round for 6 min 20 sec, the egg carton cup for 9 min 50 sec, and the muffin liner for more than 12 minutes.
So which one is BEST? It depends.
Toilet Paper Tube: No additional cost, but the fire doesn’t burn as hot or as long (notice the flame size & intensity compared to the others).
Cotton Round: Cheap and easy to make, and is the smallest to store out of all the starters.
Egg Carton: Burns hot and long, but if you take the whole carton, it’s the bulkiest to pack. However, if you just rip a couple off the carton to take camping, it’s convenient to store.
Muffin Liner: Biggest surface area, so it burns the longest out of the four. You can even stack them to pack with your camping gear, which is pretty convenient.
I think we’ll plan a campfire night this week with our kids so I can test these out somewhere a little more exciting than the grill! And since these are made from household items & garbage, I’d say it’s a pretty great thing!
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Becky is a wife, mother, avid cook and novice gardener. She loves growing organic, wholesome food right in her backyard that she can transform into a delicious creation in her kitchen. When she's not growing or cooking food, she enjoys running half marathons, reading, and watching her children pull weeds in the garden.
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