As we finish settling in from our journey I wanted to offer you a post about something other than our vacation. And since my feet have been really really cold for the past three days (adjusting from warm sand to cold floors) fire starters seemed timely. (This is a repost from January.) Keep warm!
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Before we moved to our current home we heated exclusively with wood. To be more honest we heated exclusively with the sun and supplemented after dark with a fire in the wood stove. (That is my plug for passive solar home design. We heated our house on less than a cord of wood a year with no additional heat source.)
Our current house is arguably less efficient. Leaky and north-facing, we still heat with wood, but as a back up to our furnace. Ideally we have a fire everyday, burning throughout the day.
Which brings us to kindling and fire starting. I love having a fire burning. I even enjoy stacking wood but I hate splitting kindling. It is a thankless job and I always thought fires without kindling would be a dream-come-true.
Enter the beeswax fire starter.
Kindling is no longer a part of our reality. Neither is birch bark or newspaper. Our fireplace area contains beeswax fire starters, firewood, and matches. That's it. Making fire starters for your fireplace, wood stove, or campfires is easy peasy. (Easier than splitting kindling!)
Here is how we do it:
Collect some scrap candle ends. Post to Freecycle or Craigslist that you are looking for these, or scrounge rummage sales for boxes of ancient candles. If you prefer you can also use purchased beeswax or paraffin. (Paraffin however is a petroleum product. Use your own judgment here.)
Collect sawdust or other suitable lightweight material (chopped straw, mountains of dryer lint, or our choice, coffee chaff from a local coffee roastery) and paper egg cartons. We make several dozen at a time and stock up on cartons in the off-season.
Cover your floors and counters with newspaper or drop cloths.
Melt candle ends or wax on low heat in an old pan on the stove or use an old slow cooker (we have a dedicate one for candle making that we use).
Watch your wax to insure that it doesn't get too hot (overheated wax will burn!). While the wax melts fill the egg cartons to the top with sawdust.
Pour melted wax carefully over sawdust and press down with an old teaspoon. Continue adding sawdust and wax until the cartons are full. They should not be soggy with wax, but the sawdust should absorb the wax almost completely and they should look something like the photo below.
Allow to cool.
To use: tear off a single egg and place on top of one piece of fire wood. Place a smaller piece of wood (or two) across the top of the fire starter. Light. Smile at your cleverness.