Every spring, I anxiously await the arrival of the first warm days to pack up (with my dog and my tent) and spend a few days in the woods with friends.
Camping is easily one of my favourite activities. It’s rejuvenating: The starry sky, simple meals prepared in rustic ways, rainy nights of board games under the tarp, the mosquitoes, birds, campfires, marshmallows, hallelujah!
This year is no exception! I had the pleasure of hiking the north bank of the St. Lawrence River to the Bergeronnes at the mouth of the Saguenay.
As temperatures have been up and down this summer and the rain shows up frequently, I wanted to have the best possible chance of success and brought fire-starters with us (yes, yes, I’ve already had bad experiences and camping nights without a fire, *sniffle*!).
However, I didn’t want to spend too much on them (since I had to buy a new tent) so I decided to do a little tinkering to see if I could make some on my own. The Internet quickly taught me that not only was it possible, but I already had everything I needed to make them on my own. Hurray!
Let me tell you, they worked very well! We lit each one of our fires in no time at all (and we didn’t have to go looking around for paper each time). What’s more, 3 of the 4 “ingredients” used were on their way into the trash, so I was able to give them a second life! Well done, me.
- Cascades Fluff Enviro toilet paper rolls (made from 100% post-consumer recycled paper)
- Dryer lint
- Wax (in pellet/packaged form or recovered from an old candle)
- Wax paper
How and why
The idea behind a fire-starter is to concentrate flammable material and ensure that it burns for long enough for the kindling to catch fire and then light the big logs. In our case, the flammable material is dryer lint.
To ensure that it burns for longer than normal, we’ll use wax, which not only makes the fire-starter more effective, but it also makes it water/moisture resistant.
1. Melt the wax in a double boiler. I chose two old candles whose wicks had burnt off entirely, but which still had a lot of wax left. I put my candle’s glass container directly into the water in my pot, at medium heat.
2. While the wax melts, prepare to assemble the fire-starters. Lay out a sheet of wax paper on a cookie tray. Place the toilet paper rolls vertically and fill them with one-third of the way with lint.
3. Once the wax has thoroughly melted, pour a small quantity into each toilet paper roll so that the lint soaks it up. 2. Add lint to the 2/3-way mark of the toilet paper roll and pour in more wax.
4. Once the last third of the lint has been filled, pour in a little more wax and let it cool. Meanwhile, put your wax into the double boiler to keep it liquid.
5. Once the wax has hardened, turn over the fire-starters and pour a little wax into the other end, so that each end has wax.
6. Once the wax on your fire-starters has hardened, roll it in the previously used wax paper, so as not to waste anything and to catch any wax that drips off. Then twist the ends to form a wick, and voila!
PS: If you still have wax left and have some disposable cosmetic pads on hand (in order to not waste anything, you can take already-used pads), dip them in the wax. They can serve as makeshift fire-starters and/or help you fan the flames if they die down along the way.
Keep your fire-starters in a zip-top plastic bag to protect them from moisture, which would harm their effectiveness.
Prepare your fire as normally, replacing the paper with one or two fire-starters. Top with kindling to form a teepee. Light your fire-starters. When the kindling is burning well, add big logs.
Now, you can take time to relax! The mosquitoes are gone, the sun is down, and there’s nothing left but you, your fire, and your marshmallows. Enjoy!