Do you like firepits? Do you have a wood stove? How easy do you find it to light that fire up? This can be less than easy for some so I thought I would make some DIY firestarters for stocking stuffers this year.
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Firestarters are pretty darn easy to DIY and odds are you might just have a lot of the ingredients on hand if DIY is your jam.
- paraffin wax
- muffin tins
- cupcake wrappers
- cotton string
- wood shavings
- crock pot
- small ladle
- slow cooker liners (optional)
I wanted to see which type of firestarter I liked best so I decided to make them two ways- one with paper cupcake liners and no wick (the paper outside behaves like the wick) and no liner with a simple wick.
For easy release later, I used a wipe down of vegetable oil on the “no liner” tin (one point for cupcake liners).
There is a HUGE bag of walnut shavings in my workshop given to me by my buddy Alex (shoutout to him- thanks man!) FOREVER ago. These are a great repurpose for this type of thing and major bonus that walnut wood is SO pretty!
Quick Tip: If you didn’t have a ridiculous amount of wood shavings or sawdust, you could use wood chips for a smoker, paper shreds or twists (note: they wouldn’t burn as long to help the fire start though), dryer lint, or even mulch (be careful if it’s treated).
I grabbed a cup of the wood shavings and placed them in the recesses of both tins, packing them in a bit to make sure I can fit as much as possible.
I wanted the easiest way to melt the wax so I pulled out my crock pot. HOWEVER, I did not want to clean it up after so I grabbed these:
Liners make cleanup a breeze for food and non food “projects” alike. I don’t use them when making food as that seems wasteful, but when using the crock pot for craft projects, they just seem an extra layer of “protection” against cross contamination. I “could buy another crock pot.. but I of course never think about it until I am ready to get started.
Paraffin wax is your best bet for firestarters you might use in a wood stove. It burns more cleanly and nearly completely away so there is far less risk of a fire hazard from waxy buildup. For firepots and campfires, it doesn’t matter as much and you can use, soy, beeswax, or even just leftover candle bits and pieces…
It’s a bit faster to melt the wax when it can heat most evenly so I tossed in a couple cups of water then the liner on top. Inside the liner I put the wax bars. That way the water and wax won’t mix (another good reason to use the liners for this…. I can justify anything…
Once it was all melted, I used a ladle to move the hot wax from the crock pot to the muffin tins. Tap them down, and use a skewer, toothpick, knife, whatever to move the shavings around a bit so the wax gets all the way to the bottom of the cup. If the wax spills or drips a bit, just let it dry, scrape it up, and drop it back in the pot. It will remelt almost immediately.
To make the wicks, I just dipped the cotton string in the wax and let it dry. I put a thin first layer of wax into the no paper tin and then pressed my wick into the mass. Then I cut the string long and let it rest on the side of the tin so it didn’t fall in and get buried. Then I filled up the tin the rest of the way with wax. Go slow, so the wax has a chance to really get in there.
I did the same thing in the paper wrapper tins without the wick, so it did go a bit faster.
Give them a bit to dry and then just turn the muffin pan over. They fall out really easily.
Last thing to do is fire them up for testing….
Worked like a charm and made getting that fire going a breeze.
Happy Thanksgiving this week to my US friends!