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Homemade fire starters with a 10+ minute burn time!

girl holding fire starterMake a homemade fire starter by following along with this DIY project! All you need are three simple ingredients that you'll find in your house and in the woods. When made with good quality ingredients these fire starters resist wind, light rain, and have over a 10-minute burn time!

This craft project takes about 30-minutes to make if you are shaving your own wood, or even less if you already have wood chips handy. This recipe is good for a dozen fire starters but you can easily make as many as you’d like. 

Firestarter supplies:

  • About 1 cup of wax from a used up candle or paraffin wax chips from any craft store
  • 1 empty egg carton
  • A few handfuls of dry wood shavings. You can make these with a knife, a chainsaw, or even purchase animal bedding chips if you don't have any wood handy. From my experience, shaved wood works best. I am using dried cedar from my backyard. 

Once you gather all of your supplies, let’s start assembling these awesome fire starters!

How to make the homemade fire starters:

Step No. 1: Melt the wax

melted candle next to campfire

I recommend melting your wax outdoors if you can. I put my used up candle next to a campfire to melt the wax, but there are several other options. You can melt it wax in an old tin can, on the stove, or in the oven if the glass is heat-safe. 

Step No. 2: Make or gather wood shavings

shaving wood off of block

If you need to make your own wood shavings, all you need is a sharp knife, a sturdy bench, and a piece of dried wood. Take your knife and drag it down a rough edge of the wood and shavings will peel off. It’s that easy! It takes a while to make a bunch but they burn so great if you make them by hand. 

Cutting them in varying thicknesses is a great practice. Skinny and fluffy shavings help the fire starter light easily while thicker shavings keep the fire starter burning for a longer period of time. Having a mix of both sizes will give you the best possible fire starter. 

Step No. 3: Arrange shavings into the egg carton 

gathering wood shavings

This step is pretty simple. You just need to fill up your egg carton with the wood shavings! I like to bunch mine up into a ball before putting them inside because that makes it easier for them to cut apart once they are finished. 

Step No. 4: Pour melted wax over each egg cup

girl pouring wax out of candle

With the shavings inside each cup, you can now add the wax. You really don’t need very much wax at all to make a great fire starter. I only use about ¼” of wax per each egg cup. 

Using less wax allows the fire starter to burn much larger than other typical wax fire starters. This is because less wax lets in more oxygen and allows the wood shavings to burn more quickly. I like this method because it makes a much more powerful fire as opposed to a very long burning but weak fire starter. 

Step No. 5: Let cool on a hard surface

wood shavings in an egg carton

Once you add in the wax, the project is almost complete! You will need to be sure to let it dry first though. Be careful because the wax is hot and will likely leak through the bottom of the egg carton. Make sure that you create these on a surface that can get wax all over it. Again, I highly recommend making these outside because you can simply make them on the ground and have nothing to worry about. 

Step No. 6: Cut ‘em up and store them for your adventures!

slicing up fire starters

Once these are completely dry, all you need to do is slice them apart and store them. I keep mine in ziplock bags that I can throw in my backpack when I head out on a camping trip. This keeps them dry and the inside of your bag free of wood shavings. 

Since these fire starters don’t use a lot of wax, they are a bit more delicate and prone to falling apart at the bottom of a backpack. They will still do the job, but if you don’t want to make a mess, consider keeping them somewhere safe. 

Also, to keep these fire starters good for as long as possible, store them in a plastic bag so that the egg carton doesn't absorb moisture from the environment (especially if you live somewhere humid!)

How to use them:

lighting fire starter on fire

These fire starters make lighting a fire quick and easy. You just need to use them as you would with any other form of tinder like crumpled paper or tiny sticks. Simply light the paper edge of the cup using a lighter and it’ll quickly burst into flames! 

Be sure that you gather kindling and wood before you light the fire starter because ten minutes burns quickly! I recommend using very small sticks at first and then slowly piling on larger and larger pieces of wood as the fire lights and embers form. 

You should tend to your fire for the first fifteen minutes that you light it, constantly adding in small kindling and wood. This will give you the best chance of having a successful fire. Then, once it’s going well, you’ll just need to add regular pieces of wood to maintain it. 

This craft is great for those who are new to the outdoors, kids, and even for the wilderness expert that just wants to light a good fire quickly and easily. They are quick to make, handy to use, and I will always keep some of these stored in my camping kit.

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Hey! I'm Callie.

I'm a mountain-obsessed skier, hiker, and mountain biker based out of Bellingham, Wa. I am the founder of Wild Grit, teaching online courses and creating videos to guide you towards a more adventurous life.

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  • I will be making these for my inside wood burning stove- like the first commenter, gas prices in the US are INSANE RIGHT NOW. those prices go on to kindling, up tob10$ for just a few crappy peices. No me this year! I have some white sage and bay leaves from the garden, an excess of dried oranges, and egg cartons, I can’t wait!

  • Thanks for that. We have been getting localised power cuts here in the UK for a while now and I have been throwing away the candle wax. I have a wood burning stove in the house and these firelighters of yours will save on kindling. Fuel costs are rising here at a phenomenal rate, I believe the USA is having similar experiences. Food may be the next thing to concern us but I guess you know how and where to forage.

    God bless you and avoid crowds. (h/t Remus) lol

  • I am really glad I found your article on the web after hours of searching. Your article is very informative and has a little touch of something special. Thank you for creating such an informative article and keep up the good work.
    Please do check out my website at waptrick. If you are interested, we could also exchange links. I love linking to valuable content.

    Jeremiah Agware

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