Make Homemade Fire Starters with 2 Things You’re Already Putting in the Garbage

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What do you use to start a fire? Those store-bought fire starting logs? Well, hello, Mr. and Mrs. Moneybags! Crumpled up newspaper? Yep, that’ll work (and will perhaps keep print media running). Top secret documents that you need to destroy? Um, yeah, that’ll work too (although I worry about the kinds of people you associate with). Have I got a better fire starter for you! And it’s two things you would throw into the garbage anyway!

I don’t remember where I read about this trick originally. It was years ago and we were living in our apartment and the closest we ever got to a fireplace was the mantel I had attached to one of our walls. I think our neighbors would frown on us burning down the building with a fire in our mantel. I didn’t have a use for this clever information at the time, but I filed it away in my mental lockbox and hoped I’d be able to access it when the time came.

Well, here I am with a wood burning stove of my own and I remembered this simple fire starter trick. Three cheers for still being able to remember things!

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So, here it is, the two things you’ll need to start a fast fire: toilet paper tubes and dryer lint.

Now, here’s the thing. You’re not going to just toss the tubes and lint into the fireplace and light them. To create homemade fire starter logs, you’ll simply stuff a bunch of dryer lint inside the toilet paper tube. Put the stuffed tube in the fireplace, stack your kindling around it, and then light it. Whereas crumpled newspaper will burn up really quickly, the lint stuffed toilet paper gives give you a slow burn that’s great for getting the kindling going.

I’ve been building our fires in the wood stove using these homemade fire starters and they work brilliantly! The dryer lint is so flammable, in fact, that I am now convinced that we need to clean out the dryer vent this spring! In the video above, you can see how slowly the homemade fire log burns. Normally, of course, I would have kindling stacked around the fire starter and this slow burn would help that kindling take off like …. well, like wild fire!

(Three minutes later, the fire starter is still burning!)

Note: You can also use paper towel rolls for your fire starters. However, when I use paper towel rolls, I cut them into thirds.

— J. Blandings

Images and video: Mr. and Mr. Blandings

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