If camping skills could be a nemesis, mine would have been fire making.  I sucked at it.  I knew that the one thing that would get me in the end was my inability to get a log to catch fire.

Then something wonderful happened – we had stuff that needed a purpose.  We save our dryer lint for fire starting.  So when I ended up with a pile of used candles that I could melt down into “raw” wax, an idea occurred.  I could stuff that huge pile of empty toilet paper rolls with lint and melt the wax over it.

Okay so I spent a winter making fire starters that I had no idea would work.  The fire starters are easy to make.  You need toilet paper rolls, wax and dryer lint, as well as an old cookie sheet (or cover a good one with parchment or wax paper).  Stuff the lint into the rolls – with pretty much everything (hair, dryer sheet, papery stuff).  Stand the rolls on the cookie sheet.

Melt the wax.  I used wax that was from old candles.  They are easy to come by – just ask your friends and family if they have a stash of candles.  We got our stash from a thrift store that was going to throw them out.  Melt that down and remove any large bits.  Small bits don’t matter so long as they are not metal or plastic.

Pour the wax, slowly, into the toilet paper rolls.  Let set for a minute or two and pour more.  Keep waiting and pouring until you can’t get any more wax into the roll.  Let sit for several minutes or until there is no wet wax.  Flip the roll over.  You may want to take a moment to scrape all the extra wax up to remelt.  Repeat the procedure – add wax until you can no longer.  Let dry for 24 hours.  Because of space, I would let them sit on the cookie sheet for a little while before moving to a rack to let them dry on their sides.  This was more so I could clean up the wax on the cookie sheet and make more.

I didn’t give much thought about how to use these until I was out in the woods.  A wick would be good.  We found that the rolls that still had a bit of toilet paper stuck were perfect.  The bit of toilet paper lit beautifully.  But not all of them need a wick since we used 3 at a time.  It all depends on how you plan on using them.


To start the fire, stack your wood with lots of space.  I like the log cabin method – lay down your 3 largest logs in a triangle with one end of each log resting on the log next to it.  Take 3 smaller logs and repeat but off a little so you end up with a square.  Lay your kindling in the center with your fire starters.  This is a terrible set of instructions but the goal is to have air flow under each log but letting them touch enough that one will ignite the one next to it.  The fire starters burn for about 10 minutes so you have plenty of time for your wood to catch fire.

The finished firestarter (picture by request):