Friday, July 19, 2013

Egg Carton Campfire Starters

It was the summer of 1990 (give or take a year).  My family went camping at Pickerel Lake State Park in  northeast South Dakota.  It rained a lot on that trip.  So much so that I went to one of the park organized events for kids just to have something to do.  The campground hosts were having some craft project like making candles or something...I don't remember the specifics.  But what I do remember vividly is that they had their fire blazing in the pouring rain, and my Mom asked them how they got their fire started.  They said they used egg carton fire starters.  We had no idea what they were, so they showed us.  As an adult now, I've tried store bought starters and various homemade varieties.  If I'm strapped for space, I make the Cotton Rounds starters that I made a few weeks back, but otherwise--these always come with us camping.  They light easily and burn forever.  Plenty of time to get things started, even in windy or wet conditions.

You will need:
A cardboard Egg Carton
Several loads worth of dryer lint (at least 12 loads--probably more)
A pie tin or other vessel for heating wax
Leftover wax

The first step is to save an egg carton and fill it up with dryer lint.  I just leave the egg carton on top of the dryer so I remember to save it.

The next step requires melted wax.  Any kind will do.  When we made these when I was a kid, we used paraffin wax, but I usually just use leftover candle wax.  Pie tins work great for heating up wax on ceramic stove tops.  A thrift store pan would work great too.

Once your wax is liquid, bend the pie tin (while using oven mitts) a bit to make it easier to pour, and carefully pour it over your lint.  Make sure you use enough wax to completely wet the surface of the lint.

Some of the wax will bleed through.  Make sure you have wax paper or tinfoil underneath your egg carton.  When all of the egg compartments have some wax bleed through on the bottom of the carton and the top is completely wetted--you've used enough wax. The egg compartments should not be soupy with wax, but if you push down with your finger (careful, it's hot) some liquid wax should come to the surface. A small pillar candle (like the kind you can pick up for a dollar at walmart or the dollar store) is about the right amount of wax (more than what I have pictured above--I like to melt a little at a time so I don't end up with too much melted).  

Let your waxed egg carton dry and you're ready to camp.  I leave the lid on for transportation.  Just rip off a section (one egg compartment), place it next to your kindling in your fire, and light.  It will probably out burn your kindling.

1 comment:

  1. So going to do this for my next camping trip! Beats having to gather hundreds of sticks, however, the kids have gotten pretty good at it, lol.

    I just followed you. Hoping you'll follow back.
    Thanks in advance!