Last week I restocked my supply of fire starters before a camping trip we took to Lacey-Keosauqua state park in Southeastern Iowa. So, while we were there, we took the opportunity to test out the fire starters and see how they each work. We lit them all (at roughly the same time) and timed them as they burned. There was very little wind, so it was a pretty good test of their burn time. I lined up the cotton rounds, the new shredded paper versions, the old trusty dryer lint variety, and a store bought Coleman/Diamond brand strike on box sawdust and wax fire starter in a neat line.
The cotton round fire starter lasted about 7 and a half minutes before flaming out. Next up was my new experimental shredded paper fire starters. They lasted just over 8 minutes before dying out, but they make a nice big flame as they burn. Hubby's biggest complaint about the shredded paper starters is that they shed. Little pieces of shredded paper come flaking off and float all over the place.
The two longest lasting fire starters were the store bought fire starter and the homemade dryer lint starters. The dryer lint starters flamed for almost 12 minutes before finally blowing out and the store bought starter continued burning until about 16 and a half minutes had passed.
Conclusions: I wasn't terribly surprised by the outcome of the test, except by how long they all burned. The store bought variety costs 50-75 cents apiece and are clearly the largest fire starters of the bunch, but they do work well. The lint starters have always been my favorite, and now I have data to show why: they lasted the longest of the homemade varieties. And, as long as you have some old candles laying around, they are free to make.
However, they all work to start fires. We had some wet weather while we were camping and we were very happy that we had fire starters to rely on to help us dry out our wood and get it going.
Note: This is an unscientific test. Your results may vary. Weather conditions and the quality of wax and materials may affect the outcome of your fire starters.