Years ago, when we lived in the Cold North and relied on a wood stove to keep us alive, little Matthew once asked something profound like, "Why is it that the fire starts for the dad but not for the mom?"
He had good reason for asking. I had a hard enough time resurrecting a fire that had burned too low, but starting one from scratch required clouds of wadded newspapers, multiple matches, even more prayers, soot on my forehead, and many Lamaze-type puffs on the reluctant flame.
Paul of course had that Man Magic that also made the car start the first time and that drove it right to the top of the icy hill without spinning out.
If only I would have known about Fire Starters back then. Granted, I couldn't have made them with dryer lint in the years we didn't have a dryer, but I'm guessing shredded paper or cotton rags would have worked as well.
These little lovelies work. They ignite with one match, even when it's windy. Then they burn, igniting all the kindling and bark and eventually the big chunks of driftwood that you've piled carefully around them.
This is how you make them.
1. Save your dryer lint for a while. I had an ice cream bucket pressed down, shaken together, and running over for this batch, and it was way too much.
2. Gather up:
the dryer lint
cardboard egg cartons
disposable rubber gloves
a skewer for stirring
a tin can
a small pan of water
old candles and stubs
A word on the old candles: Last year I found some pretty egg-shaped candles at a garage sale. I put them in the attic in my box of Easter decorations.
We had a long hot summer.
I got out the Easter decorations right before Easter this year, and behold, the beautiful candles.
3. To melt the wax, put some chunks of wax in the tin can. Put the tin can in the pan of water. Heat the water on the stove.
DO NOT EVER heat the can directly on the burner. At a critical point the wax will erupt in flames.
We pause here for Story Time with Aunt Dorcas:
I once bought a large bag of old candles at a church rummage sale. An older lady asked me what I plan to do with them. I said they're for an art project for my husband's students.
She got a look on her face that spoke of terrible memories. "Please please don't let them heat the container of wax directly on the stove," she said. "When I was about ten, my mother was making jelly and back them we would put melted paraffin on the jar to seal it. We had the pan of wax on the wood cookstove and I was supposed to watch it. Then I needed to get something in the pantry, and we would save our newspapers in a stack in the pantry, and when I walked by, the comics were on top, so I stopped to read them and lost track of time. Suddenly I remembered the wax. Just as I came back to the kitchen the wax exploded and the flames shot up to the ceiling. I was frozen to the spot. I couldn't move. Someone grabbed me and pulled me outside, and in minutes the house went up in flames. My eyebrows were singed but I was alive. But we lost everything. So PLEASE be careful."
I promised I would, and now I've warned you too.
4. Stir the wax now and then with the skewer. I don't know if this hurries it up or not, but some of us like to poke around in soft wax.
5. When the wax is melted, turn the burner off and pull on the rubber gloves.
|A picture, in case you don't know how to put on rubber gloves.|
6. Take a big handful of lint and put it on the newspaper.
7. Pour on a circle of wax. Glop it around with your hands. Repeat until you can pick up a wad of it and it mostly holds together. It doesn't have to be saturated.
8. Press an egg-size glob into each cup of the egg carton.
You will love these.
|I was going to demonstrate with a lit match, etc. but it's hard to do this safely while taking the picture yourself.|
When we go camping now, Paul uses these things all the time. Which means they're even better than Man Magic.
|At Bible Memory Camp last fall. Paul builds the breakfast fire while Tanner watches.|