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Old 01-17-2017, 03:36 PM   #1
Mama Alanna
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Default Making firestarters

We are the proud owners of a new fireplace insert, the kind with blowers to pump hot air out into the room instead of letting it go up the chimney.

It is a sad fact that discarded cigarette butts can and do start massive conflagrations, but sometimes a whole newspaper, four matches, and an armload of kindling and twigs won't start a blasted fire in the bloody damned fireplace!

Some years ago we were gifted a box of firestarters, sticks about 8 inches long and about an inch an a half in diameter. From the look and feel, they were sawdust held together with grease/wax of some kind. But we're about to run out.

I looked online for directions on how to make them, and they seemed to be pretty easy. Heat up scrap wax from old candles, stuff a mold with newspaper or sawdust or dryer lint, pour over the wax, and you're good to go.

So herewith, my experiments along that line. I bought a silicon soap mold at Michael's, collected some old candle stubs, paper shreds and sawdust, and melted my wax in a double boiler. (Melting wax over direct heat is NOT RECOMMENDED. It can catch fire with too hot a heat source.)

1. Candle wax and paper shreds. I packed the shreds as tight as I could, but it wasn't all that tight. They used a LOT of wax for the few starters I got.

2. Wax and sawdust. DH's table saw has a catchbag for sawdust, most of it very fine. I packed the molds full and poured on the wax. Didn't work very well. It just puddled up on top of the sawdust. In retrospect I should have known it might do that -- I've made sand candles before, wax poured into a hollow in fine sand.

3. By this time I'm running low on wax. So what else burns well? Waste grease from the kitchen, that's what, and I mentioned that the commercial ones felt greasy rather than waxy . So I pulled the container of waste grease out of the refrigerator and mixed that in, abour equal amounts wax and grease. It all melted together pretty nicely. I also tossed in the failed sawdust experiment. When they had melted down, I started stirring sawdust to the pot until it couldn't absorb any more. Packed that into molds as firmly as possible. They cooled into nice hard little cakes, just as they should.

4. Still trying to extend the wax from #1, I melted them down, shreds and all, and added some sawdust. I probably should have left well enough alone, because they didn't mold well. They're cooling now, and I suspect they'll crumble. If so, I'll just wrap a handful in a quarter-sheet of newspaper and tie it up with thread. They'll still burn just fine.

5. No dryer lint experiment. DH emptied the laundry room trash last week and I am out of wax/grease. Will try that next time and post to this thread.

Note that you don't have to go out and buy a mold. Most directions mention egg cartons. However the places we buy eggs from use the foam cargons, and no way am I going to pour hot wax into one of those!
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Last edited by Mama Alanna; 01-17-2017 at 03:44 PM.
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