These easy peasy lemon squeezy fire starters are a perfect stocking stuffer for anyone who loves to curl up in front of a nice wood fire on a cold evening. They’re great for avid campers or armchair bookworms alike, and don’t contain any of the scary chemicals you find in a lot of commercial fire starters. And you can make them as cutesy as you like. So I’m going full cutesy.
Now, the whole point of a fire starter is that it keeps burning long enough to get the larger pieces of wood in your fire going. For that, it’s handy to have some sort of wick/candle thing going on. So we’re going to start by making our own wicks. Now that I know how to do this I’m never buying pre-made wicks from the store ever again. All you need is water, borax, salt, and cotton string. I’m going to guess that most of you have those on hand. You can pick up borax from the cleaning aisle of your grocery store. It’s a very handy item.
Dissolve 4 tablespoons borax and 2 tablespoons salt in 1 1/2 cups warm water. Or dissolve it as much as you can. Mine didn’t dissolve all the way.
Now cut a length of cotton string (butcher’s twine, anything like that). I decided seeing as I had the solution going I’d make a lot of wicks ahead of time for future use.
Submerge the string in the solution and leave it overnight. Mine started to grow a few crystals as the supersaturated solution cooled. SCIENCE. The next day, hang the wet string to dry completely.
Now all you need to do is melt some paraffin wax, which you can find in the canning aisle of the grocery or hardware store. You *could* use beeswax for this project but I think it’s a little pricey for something you’re going to chuck in a fire.
Melt the wax in a double boiler or heatproof bowl suspended over simmering water.
Dip your borax string in the wax two or three times and let it harden between dippings. Tada. You have made wicks.
Keep that melted wax going – make sure to check your water periodically to make sure it doesn’t boil away, because that happens and it’s not very good for your pot.
Line a muffin tin with cupcake cups. I picked owls because they’re all woodsy and stuff. And hella cute.
And I’ve been saving my dryer lint for like forever. It’s full of dog hair, which is also flammable. Yay.
So I put some dryer lint in the bottom of each cup, together with half a cinnamon stick, a sprig of fresh rosemary, and a dried bay leaf.
Then I stuck the wick in and added a bit of melted wax, just to get the wick positioned where I wanted it. The wick doesn’t have to be centred in this thing – this is not a candle – it just needs to be sticking up and out of the cup.
Then I added in enough wax to mostly fill the cup. Don’t worry about submerging all the tidbits inside. They add visual interest.
Let the wax set for several hours. Once it starts to develop a skin on top like this you can start moving things around in the cups if you can’t leave well enough alone or if the wicks fall down.
Set the finished fire starters on your mantle in a pretty bowl.
Or hand them out in matching gift bags to the pyromaniacs in your life.