My friend gave me a gift….she was a little hesitant at first and said it was kind of ugly, but she thought I would like it. Then she handed me something, well…ugly. But it has turned out to be a beautiful thing. Homemade fire-starters made from reused egg cartons, dryer lint and melted candle wax. There are two reasons I love this idea. One, I love making something out of things that would normally have gone in the trash or at best the recycle bin. Two, the fire-starters are amazing, and work better than any I have ever paid for. I should really add a third reason…. My husband raves about them and builds cozy, wonderful fires when our fire-starter basket has been stocked.
If you can’t come up with enough burned out candles of your own, the beginning of the firestarter making happens during summer, or garage sale season. As you peruse people’s unwanted stuff you will inevitably find the table with the candles. They sit unwanted because they are burned down too far, faded, stinky, wickless or just plain ugly. I grab all of them. Usually they are labeled with prices that can be paid for with a coin. Sometimes if I have other things in hand to buy, the seller offers them for free. “Just take them. I want to get them out of here”. I think they feel bad trying to sell something that, as far as they can see, is useless. Last summer I got my whole year’s worth of wax for about $2.00.The next thing is saving the dryer lint. Lint used to be kind of annoying. Something you have to throw away every time you do laundry. Now I have a coffee can by my dryer that is full of lint. I look forward to washing the red bathroom rug and towels. They make a big, thick, red sheet of lint. I even save the little paper things that once lived in a pocket as a note or list, and turned into wads in the washer. I have also added the used dryer sheet to the mix. I’ll explain later. Don’t save all of them though or you will be taken over by dryer sheets.
The egg cartons are easy. Lots of people eat eggs. If you don’t eat them, you know someone who does.
Before you get started you will want to cover your counter with newspaper or an old brown bag. It soaks up wax drips better than the counter does. You will also need to find an empty can that you can fit inside of one of your cooking pots. Pinch one side of the can to make a sort of pour spout. The pot is filled about half way with water and the can goes in the water. Kind of a double-boiler effect. It helps if you put something in the bottom of the pan for your can to rest on. It lets the boiling process happen without your can bubbling up the whole time. I have used a canning jar ring, an open nutcracker, any kitchen tool that will add some space between the can and the bottom of the pot. The wax pieces go in the can. Boil the water and keep it at a slow boil until the wax melts.
While the wax is melting you should get the egg cartons ready. Cut the lid off and the little flap that keeps them closed. Then I cut the dryer sheets into four pieces. Put a wad of dryer lint into the middle of one of the sheet pieces, then poke that into a section of egg carton. If you run out of lint just cut up some of the egg carton lid into little pieces and use it to fill. This burns just as well . The more you make these easier it will be to judge how many starters your wax will make.
Once the wax has melted and your ugly lint wads are all cozy in thier egg cartons you can (using a good oven mitt) pick up your can and start drizzling wax onto the lint in the cups. I usually pour a dozen and then go back and pour over them again. Sometimes it takes a couple pours for it to soak into everything.
You will love these. Put some in a coffee can and take them camping! Or put them in one of those mesh bags that the oranges came in and give them as a gift. They usually have some kind of cinnamon scent that overrides the stinky ones, (since inevitably someone got rid of a candle that smelled like cinnamon) so they make your living room smell all homey.
So you see….Ugly can be beautiful.