Sunday, February 19, 2012


That’s not a metaphor.  I finally got to finish up a project today, and, inspired by Natalie at Chickenblog, thought I’d share my little craft.  This is going a bit off my usual topic, and unfortunately, this project is not nearly as pretty as what Natalie and her family get up to!

It is, however, a re-use / recycle kind of project, so there is that.  This one starts with lint!  Yes, lint, stuffed into cardboard egg cartons.


We’ve been saving our lint like obsessive hoarders for months and months.  We had four of these cartons packed full of lost bits of towels, sweaters, socks and probably more than a few Rosie hairs.  That’s ok, hair is nice and flammable, too.

The second ingredient is wax.  We wanted paraffin, but this is what we found at the craft store.


We did this same project last year, using the melted-down bits of candle stubs and tea lights with burned-down wicks.  Unfortunately we haven’t burned enough candles this year, so we had to shell out some cash.  We bought two of these one-pound blocks, and it wasn’t quite enough for three of our cartons.  Next time I’ll know to go ahead and get the four-pound block.  (Warning: for a thrifty craft, this wax can get expensive; these blocks were $6.99.   I think I’ll keep my eye open for paraffin, and see if it’s any cheaper.  Or make an effort to take more candle-lit baths.)

Time to melt the wax!


(*Note: DO NOT DO AS I DID.  Turns out this wax is flammable above 300 degrees--so putting in an oven with an open heat source is very dangerous.  Use a double-boiler as recommended.  Thanks to Dreaming for pointing this out in the comments!*)

I cut it into smaller chunks, and melted them in the oven in a disposable pie tin we happened to have around.  Last year we used a small saucepan on the stove, and it was a bit of a pain to clean.  It would be nice to have a junky pot you don’t really care about for this step, as the stovetop is more direct and efficient—plus the saucepan was easier to pour from.  Notice I put the wibbly-wobbly pie tin on a sheet tray for more secure handling.  This also came in handy after pouring the wax, since some dribbled down under the bottom of the tin and cooled there.

While this was melting, I tore the lids and tabs off the egg cartons and set them in a sheet tray, too.  There will be extra wax coming out the bottoms and dribbling off the sides, so you want to protect your work surface.


Well, they almost look like aracauna eggs, right?  Maybe a bit…squishier.

I don’t have a picture of the next step, pouring the wax over the eggs lint.  That’s because I was busy wrangling hot wax, duh.  It was a multi-step process.  I’d pour as best I could, put more wax in to melt, then as the overflow cooled on the cartons, I’d peel and scrape it up and put it back in the oven with the melting wax.  (Miss Chef’s metal pastry scraper was just the perfect tool for this.)

As I said, this is not a pretty-looking craft…


…though I did like how this fancy-pants wax makes them kind of shiny, lol!

After things cool down a bit, you can tear the individual egg pockets apart, and voila—a perfectly ugly little firestarter!


Yeah, maybe not the best thing for prettily-packaged homemade gifts.  On the other hand, you can do the same thing with pine cones, which can be prettily-packaged.  We’ve tried that, too, but I think they need multiple wax dippings to get enough of a coating on them.  We haven’t used the ones we made, so I’m not sure how well a single coating works, and don’t feel like advising anyone on those.

Anyway, regardless of their unattractiveness, these little lint bombs are surefire at…ensuring a fire.  I crumple up some newspaper, put one of these on top, and then teepee the kindling over it.  If properly soaked, the firestarters will burn for five minutes or so, enough to get your wood caught well.  (Notice on the one on the left in the picture above, you can see the darkness where the wax soaked into the cardboard.  That’s what you want.)

Finally, something from our kitchen that doesn’t leave you hungry!


  1. "Finally, something from our kitchen that doesn’t leave you hungry!"

    Well, it worked until I read that line and remembered your quiche...!!! Ah, but yesterday I bought cream to make my own :)

    And finally on topic - this is a great idea for a firestarter. Good to know how long they will burn. Thanks!

  2. Wow. Just: wow.
    I am so honored and delighted by this. Seriously. I was thinking: is she going to felt this? These fire starters are cool, or hot, actually!

    Okay, so this also reminds me of a safety matter. Does everyone know that if they are using fabric softener that they need to check the dryer filter/lint catcher for build-up of softener residue? The residue blocks air flow and can create a fire hazard. If water will not drain through the screen of your filter, it is due to residue build-up, and the screen should be scrubbed clean, until water can freely run through it, in order to protect yourselves from a dryer fire.

    And you're right, wonderful as your project is, I am not in the least bit hungry!

  3. I've made two different types of pine cone starters: one where I dipped them (yes, multiple times... but an ice bath speeds up the process) and one where I used a muffin tin and pour wax into the tin, then sat the pine cone in the liquid wax. I think we also dunked those one time, and used a wick in the muffin tin part.

    I loved your fluff eggs. OK... so now I know what to do with my dryer fluff. But wait, I don't have a wood-burning fireplace. Shall I send my lint to you?

    I used to get my paraffin from an old-time grocery store that sold canning supplies. I used a large juice can as a double boiler of sorts, to melt it. I had heard that you should never melt it directly over a burner. Although, I can't quite see why one would be more combustable than the other!!

  4. Hmm, you may have a point there...I am now wondering if I'm lucky I didn't blow my stove up! The packaging says not to heat above 300 degrees. I'm thinking having it in a gas oven with an open flame was extremely unwise.

  5. I had some friends that have done this and said it was highly effective at firestarting.


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