This instruction on how to make fire starters is a fun little project for a rainy or cold day, any day. You just need a paper egg carton, wax, and dryer lint. Takes an hour from start to finish to make them, and only about 10 minutes of your time.
RELATED: How To Build A DIY Firewood Rack
Ever Wanted to Know How to Make Fire Starters Using Egg Cartons?
(Your wax will be cooling most of this time) Making fire starters is pretty cool, and I needed some motivation to get my laundry done, anyway. Two birds, one stone. These light amazingly well. I never knew dryer lint would do that! Be sure to check out my burn test at the end of this post. Awesome stuff.
Why Would You Want to Make These Fire Starters?
Recently, I was camping, and having trouble getting a fire started, due to the humidity and rain. I was sure glad I had some of the egg carton fire starters in my bag. Way better than matches or a pile of kindling, the wax and dryer lint combo really helps your fire stay going. I also did a burn test with just these fire starters. Keep reading to see how long they stay lit.
- Dryer Lint: You should know what this is. Any variety will do.
- Paper Egg Carton: The size of the egg carton does not matter. It can be a dozen, a carton that holds 18, or even more. You want to make sure it is the kind made out of pressed paper, not styrofoam or some other material you might buy eggs in.
- Wax: We highly recommend using the wax from old candles and putting it to good use, but you can also buy paraffin wax or beeswax.
Note: It’s much cheaper to buy big candles for this project. The wax does not have to be food grade. You can also use leftover broken crayons, we like to use all those restaurant crayons that end up with no home.
Step 1: Eat Some Eggs and Do Some Laundry
First, get your egg carton and set it aside. and collect your dryer lint by cleaning off the lint trap of your dryer. I just stored mine in a pile until I thought I had enough. This did not take long.
I finally wanted to do laundry because I was going to get to do something cool, not just fold clothes. Amazing!
Step 2: Stuff the Dryer Lint in the Egg Carton
Next, stuff the dryer lint in the egg carton in the little holes where your eggs were. Do not stuff it in too tight. You want the wax to penetrate the dryer lint so it will burn really well.
Step 3: Melt Your Wax
Set up a double boiler to melt your wax. You need a pot with water in it, and a can or jar of some kind- soup cans and mason jars both work great. Basically, you need a metal or glass container that will fit inside your pot of water with room to spare around it, preferably one that you can throw away later, and not have to clean wax out of.
I recommend not using one of your favorite pots, either. The pot will clean, but you will likely end up with some wax in it.
Here's a neat trick. Set an old candle right in the pot and melt the wax right in the jar it is in. Put your wax in the can and the can in the pot of water and heat the water. The wax will melt inside the can.
Alternately, melt your old candles right in the glass candle holder. You may need to do this with more than one, though. Guess that depends on how big your candle is and how much wax you have left.
It was much easier than scraping the wax out of the glass, though.
One way or another, you should end up with melted wax, which looks like this.
Step 4: Pour Wax Into the Dryer Lint
When the wax is melted, pour it onto the lint in the egg carton. Use a hot pad or towel so you do not burn yourself on the can or jar. I wrapped a dish towel around mine, which worked perfectly.
You’ll want to put your egg carton on something that the wax can leak through onto (like waxed paper, foil, or piece of cardboard, basically something you don’t mind getting wax on). Some of the wax will soak through the egg carton, be prepared.
Start with a little wax in each one to make sure you have enough wax to cover all your dryer lint babies. When you’re finished, let your fire starters cool and harden.
RELATED: Waterproof Fire Starters
Step 5: Let Your Homemade Fire Starters Cool
Come on, are you that impatient? I do have to admit I was. Let the wax cool for at least 45 minutes before you go on to the next step. Seriously. Otherwise, you are going to get wax all over your scissors. Trust me.
Step 6: Cut Them Apart
You can leave them all together in the shape of an egg carton and then tear them off one at a time, or tear them all apart and store them separately.
It should look like this.
They won’t light with a spark, so you’ll need matches or a lighter to get them burning. Throw some in your emergency kit, car kit, camping kit, whatever else kit you have that has matches in it.
In our fire test, one of these little babies burned for 17 minutes and put out a good flame sufficient for even fire novices to get something burning with!
Step 7: When You Need Them, Light Them
Now what's left to do is use it outdoors and start a fire. It's best to light up your broken branches and egg carton on the sand and not on the grass to not damage your lawn.
All you have to do is put the firestarter under the wood and light it up. Combustion will last for over 10 minutes and the flame can go high, so please watch yourself.
The final product will look like this when it's on fire:
Flame got surprisingly big here. Amazing how well the combination of wax and dryer lint stays lit, and with a great big flame. Perfect for getting your fire started.
Anyone want to come fold my laundry now? 🙂
Watch this video from Specific Love Creations for more firestarter ideas you can do at home:
This will be a great project for those who love the outdoors and even for those who need an instant fire. With these simple and readily available items at home, you can make this DIY project in an instant for your next bonfire.
Now that you know how to make fire starters from scratch, we'd love to see you try it! Share your experience in making one in the comment section below.
- 11 Fireplace Front Ideas For A Cozy & Homey Upgraded Look
- Simple Mini Fire Pit Ideas Perfect For Your Small Yard
- Fun Fall DIY! Make Your Own Rustic Candle Sconces
Calling all crafting DIYhards, DIY Projects needs YOU! Click here if you want to write for us.
Don’t forget to stay connected with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on May 17, 2018, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.
Thank you!! Once a month we tried to have preparedness Sundays. I want to include the grandkids and this will be something fun for them to watch and learn.
Yes, definitely. Glad you found the article useful. I think it is an excellent little teaching project for kids. The dryer lint acts as a wick to the wax, rather like 1000 little tiny wicks. Let me know how it goes. Hope you have fun.
I had previously done this and wasn’t impressed at all with the results. Also, I have a pet, and its fur gets into our lint. when burning the firestarters, there is a hint of burning hair smell. They also didn’t light as easily as other firestartes I have tried. I would not do this again and opt for the petroleum jelly instead of wax.
Sorry to hear. Honetly, I had no idea these were going to work as well as they did. That is why I included the pics of the burn test. Mine worked great. Mine also had pet hair in them, but I was outside, and did not mind.
I would love to try the ones with petroleum jelly as well, though. I am going to try those next.
Left Coast Chuck says
Petroleum jelly needs to be in a leakproof container as the jelly will soak through any paper or wood container. As temperature goes up, the pj gets less viscous and tends to leak more, so the lid and seams need to be tight. The wax will get soft and if the temperature gets warm enough will actually liquify, so if you are in the desert and this is your fire starter, it needs to be in some kind of leakproof/oil proof container also.
Doug Nicholson says
I made the pj starters by putting about a dozen cotton balls in a ziploc bag, then added pj, zipped it shut and smushed the pj thoroughly throughout the cotton balls. Just leave them in the ziploc for storage until needed.
Try waterless hand cleaner and lint or cotton balls (real cotton, not synthetic). Burns like crazy, way better than petroleum jelly. WHC is at least 60% alcohol. I keep mine in an old medicine bottle, and squirt a few quirts of WHC on the top every year or so to keep them fresh. Scrape your info off the medicine bottle for privacy. BTW – alcohol burns with a clear flame. Be careful, you wont see it.
I have tried both. If your lint smells that bad feel free to add a few drops of scented essential oil. I always keep the cotton from medicine bottles and smear petroleum jelly on them. Remember you can save pieces of crayons,chap stick even leftover lipstick works. Try to think outside the box. If you don’t like the idea, then skip it.If you Really need fire starter the smell isn’t a problem.
Love these fire starters! We’ve been making them for years. Perfect for camping trips and emergency kits.
I make these all the time. I love them. I use them a lot for the insert in the house. Another variation I use is to cut strips of cardboard about 2 x 7 or so and curve that into a cylinder, tie it with jute twine and fill it with lint. Then I dunk them in wax. I always use paraffin because its thin and lights right away. Very cheap firestarters and they work fast every time. Thanks for the article.
Variation sounds awesome. Thanks for sharing. So much cool stuff to make, so little time.
Great idea, Travis! Wouldn’t those corrugated paper sleeves that light bulbs come in work for this?
I like these. Had an idea like this a while back but haven’t tried it yet. I work part time in a sawmill, we use diesel to lubricate the blade which leaves a by product of diesel soaked saw dust. Very useful for starting a fire however its very gine and crumbly. was thinking about making balls covered in parafin with a small wick, or simply cuttiing it open when i want to start a fire. Will work on it and see how it comes out. definitly going to try this with my girls though!!
Great. Please let me know how it turns out!
My grandfather use to use the same but would ball up in pantyhose. Just tie ends in knots.
I use a cheap tea kettle to melt the wax and then use paper from my cross cut shredder. The best is saw dust, but the paper works well.
Exactly. I used a repurposed can. Getting wax out of a good jar or glass is no fun!
Glad I found you site, and now following on FB. I’m going to try these fire starters and some of the other projects. Thanks!
Awesome. Be sure to join our newsletter mailing list. We are going to send our first one out soon, and it will be full of more great info.
When I was a boy, we cut strips of newspaper (about three or four inwide and rolled them somewhat the size of a cigar and tie that with cotton string.
I can’t like the page. I want to see the remote airsoft gun.
why skip using the lid of the carton? can be cut into smaller units or start a great bonfire…..
I used toilet paper and it burnes for 10 minutes.
Nat Lewis says
i use toilet paper and it burns for 10 minuts and 4″ tall 5 min.
I always grab the dryer lint and used softener sheets when we do laundry. I wrap the lint up in the sheet and tie it closed. Cant wait to try the wax idea. Thanks for such a GREAT site.
Back in the boy scouts we did this but used the shavings from pencil sharpeners instead of dryer lint. We had an endless supply from school so could make as many as we wanted. They worked great.
jimmy phillips says
try using a few drops fuel line anti freeze n the lint before the wax bath. use the yellow can its very flamabel but the wax keeps it from evaporating to fast. same thing used in alcohol stoves.
Great tip. Will try soon. Thanks!
Alaskan Bev says
Hit garage/rummage sales or thrift shops on sales days and grab up the partly used candles that they almost pay you to carry away! Also buy a sturdy pot or pan that you don’t want for cooking and use that exclusively for your double boiler. If you fold a slight crease into the rim of your soup can or coffee can that you use for melting down the wax, it is MUCH easier for pouring out the wax. I’ve used the same one for decades. You can also use the repurposed junky wax to make your own unique candles. These fire starters, candles, etc. are also good gifts or trade items (for SHTF times). As a kid, I used to sell them for a few cents to deer hunters who stayed at our place or roamed through our woods. Dryer lint or cotton balls rubbed with a little petroleum jelly and carried in a screw-top pill bottle or other small watertight container are great fire-starters for spark strikers. Practice outdoors in all weather conditions to perfect your skills and build self-confidence! I am a very ordinary but resourceful person, but my grandchildren and Boy Scouts think I’m amazing – why? Because I can build a quick, strong fire in the snow and wind at well below zero.
Jane Q. Public says
I would like to share what I feel is an improvement on this idea.
Instead of egg cartons, use silicone ice cube trays. Unlike some of the harder plastic trays, they are heat-resistant (up to 400 degrees) so they can take the melted wax. They just pop out of the trays when cool. You can make your fire starters smaller this way. Smaller firestarters are more versatile. If you need more heat, just use more than one.
To keep them from sticking together (especially if you use beeswax), wrap each one in a little piece of plastic wrap.
Hi This looks like an interesting project. I always look for new ideas.I will try this.Never thought of egg cartons having other uses haha. Thanks
cotton balls smeared with petroleum jelly will do nicely using a Fire-Steel kit (steel, striker and magnesium scrappings) or simple flint and steel and fine steel wool. keep in ziplocs and you’re ready. matches get wet when you fall in the river or sit up all night in the rain.
Annetta Montgomery says
Marcus – where do you buy a Fire-Steel kit?
One of the best ferrocerium rods for firemaking is the Boy Scout Hot Spark.
Hot Spark Fire Starter, Item: 1167, $3.99
Off the subject of fire starters (very good article, and the comments also):
If you are looking for plastic buckets for storage of food, or anything else, check with your MacDonalds or other fast food place. My daughter is a MacD asst. manager, and gets me 2-gal foodgrade buckets with lids for throwing away! The get them filled with pickles and generally toss them at the end of the day.
Charlie Brown, Hendersonville, NC
Thanks for the tip!
I always carry regular wax paper in zip lock baggies when I’m out hunting because you never know. I tear several sheets into 1′ lengths & fold them up. They weigh almost nothing & take up very little room in my pack. Simply crunch up the wax paper as a starter. Simply yet effective, try it at home.
Stephanie, in case you don’t see my comment to Jim, you can add some dryer lint w/p layers and this will add lightweight bulk to add to the burn factor. With a couple of drops of Tiki torch fluid on the dryer lint it won’t make a mess and will kick it up a notch.
Like the idea of tiki torch oil! Thanks.
Jim, you can add some dryer lint between w/p layers and this will add lightweight bulk to add to the burn factor. With a couple of drops of tiki torch fluid on the dryer lint it won’t make a mess and will kick it up a notch.
Lynda Fredendall says
My husband makes these wholesale…hundreds at a time. We have a fireplace, as do several family members. He heats wax (using candles from the thrift store, they can’t sell candles that have been lit so they give them away free), pours the cooled wax into the cartons he has laid out on the driveway (with a tarp underneath). Then he puts in a handful of shavings (like for hamsters, etc.) A bag is pretty cheap. No animal hair smell and the wood burns very nicely. He’s an Eagle Scout, I’m not, so I appreciate how easy it is to light a fire. He’s got boxes full now, in case of emergencies, or utilities going down, etc.
I use wax and sawdust. Tried the egg carton but made a bit of a mess. I did try dixy cups and just folded the tops in on themselves. Burns for quite a while. And I always gety wax at Goodwill. Cheep! Big bags or boxes of wax for little to nothing.
I take a used tuna can saving the lid, cut strips of cardboard about a quarter of an inch shorter than the tuna can then swirl the cardboard in the can tightly. Then I pore the wax over the cardboard. I put the can in the fire pit and pile the wood on top. After the wood gets going I take a pair of channel locks pull the tuna can out and put the lid on it to snuff out the flame. The next day I put it in a plastic bag for next time. It also makes a good quick stove (mostly hot dogs) on kayaking day trips.
Toilet paper tubes work great too. Just stuff with lint and dip the ends in the melted wax
Mary Elaine Bradfird says
I make the egg carton/dryer lint/candle wax fire starters, too. You can waterproof your strike anywhere matches by painting the heads of them with leftover nail polish. I put them around the edge of a thick magazine, let them dry thoroughly, and then put them in old plastic medicine bottles, label them emergency matches,and give them to friends, neighbors, and family members. I have found it harder to find the Strike Anywhere Matches, and have wound up using the strike on box matches. But you do have to cut the sides off the box and glue the striker to the medicine bottle, or they will not light. The strike on box only matches are much safer. I have seen a box of Strike Anywhere Kitchen Matches burst into flame after it fell off the shelf in the grocery store. And they always put the Matches next to the paper plates, and paper towels. Talk about a Fire Hazard!
These are great little fire starters.
For those that have a hard time lighting them, you’re probably putting too much wax in. Makes it hard to cut them up cleanly, but more importantly, it doesn’t leave any of the egg carton un-waxed. It’s easier to light if an edge of it doesn’t have a wax coating.
Another tip, another great survival fire starter, as mentioned, is cotton balls soaked with vasoline. Here’s the tip, put three of them in a 35mm film canister with 6 strike anywhere matches. Might have to cut the matches down to fit.
Works great. I put six matches in so if I fail to light it once I have another try per cotton ball. I also take the striking surface off of old match books and glue to the side for ease of striking.
Very lightweight, basically leak and water proof, and how many you carry in a pack is up to you and your requirements. But you can carry several of these without much of a weight penalty. Each one has three fire starters.
Hey I am so thrilled I found your web site, I
really found you by accident, while I was looking on Askjeeve for something else,
Regardless I am here now and would just like to
say cheers for a tremendous post and a all round entertaining blog (I also love the theme/design), I
don’t have time to look over it all at the moment but I have
saved it and also added in your RSS feeds, so when I have time I will be back to read more, Please do keep up the great job.
It works amazing!! I mixed some sawdust with the wax, poured over dryer lint. No issues getting fire to start.. Thanks so much!! 🙂