Recycle your dryer lint and used cooking oil into something practical by making these easy, no-wax, dryer lint fire starters, a green alternative to the chemical laden fire starters sold at stores.
Electricity here in Spain is crazy expensive. It's not that the electricity itself is that much more expensive, or maybe it is, but what makes a huge difference is the fact that around half of our electric bill is made up of taxes. (They must tax wherever they can to try to keep up the salaries of the excessive number of politicians in office, I guess.) Plus, I live in an area of Spain that never really gets snow and the houses just aren't prepared for the cold; there is no central heating, no natural gas, at least not where I live.
Up until a couple of years ago, we basically have relied on a couple of small air conditioning/heating units set up at key places in the home, like our living room and our bedrooms. It's much too expensive for us to heat up more than one or two rooms at a time, though.
I've always joked about just wanting to hibernate the winter away. I hate the cold, and am miserable when I have to get up and make something in the cold kitchen, the place where I love spending time the rest of the year. And, must I mention how I want to cry every time I have to go into the freezing bathroom and sit on the cold toilet?
We've been looking into ways to heat our home a bit more economically, and about 5 years ago installed an efficient iron fireplace. I should mention that wood is also a lot more expensive than it was back home in the states, but we've been pretty good about finding and using discarded wood to fuel our fire. Everything from the wood I get from pruning the trees in our garden, to old, broken pallets, and scrap lumber projects all end up making their way to our fireplace. My husband also occasionally finds big logs in his fishing net when at work. Go figure!
Starting a good fire
I'm pretty good at starting fires, if I do say so myself. I used to be a camp counselor, and we each had to start our own campfires to cook lunch with the kids. In fact, I got so good at it that I remember being called to one of the boys' campsites one year to help their counselor start their campfire after he failed miserably, much to the dismay of his boys. 😉
I think the trick is to go slow and add in small sticks first, leaving room for air, and then slowly building the fire up with progressively larger logs.
While I do like the challenge of starting my fire without the help of any additives, when I'm cold and cranky I just want to get the fire started as quickly as possible. That's where a good fire starter comes in handy!
At first, I made the egg carton dryer lint fire starters whose tutorials can be found floating all over the internet. If you haven't seen them, they basically consist of cardboard egg cartons with each section filled with dryer lint, and covered with melted wax. Once the wax cools and sets, you cut out each section and you have your fire starters ready.
The egg carton dryer lint fire starters have the advantage of being mostly waterproof. They have a lot of disadvantages, though!
I find them messy and a bit of a pain to make. I'm not good about not getting wax all over the place, and my hands get sore from trying to cut out all of the waxed egg carton compartments.
Worse yet, though, they take up a lot of room!
Add to all of that the fact that wax getting expensive and a lot of people are concerned about using regular wax these days, so they are switching to soy candles or beeswax, both being a bit pricey for something like this. I'm personally not that concerned about it in this sort of project, but it's still nice that you can avoid it if you want!
Instead, why not recycle your old cooking oil to make these easy, no-wax dryer lint fire starters?
I couldn't make the old egg carton fire starters anymore after getting hens and not needing to buy eggs. I no longer had any egg cartons to use, so I started another popular method, using the lint in old toilet paper rolls and pouring wax over that. Unfortunately, I found that method even messier and more annoying than the egg carton one. 😛 Plus, I started running out of old candles to use, and I realized how expensive wax was getting!
That's when I started experimenting with other ways to keep the dryer lint burning for long enough to start the fire.
Dryer lint is perfect for starting fires because it is ignites easily, but it needs something to keep it burning.
Oil makes a perfect fuel. Dryer lint makes a perfect wick.
Why not make your fire starters from completely recycled things that you were going to throw away anyway, like dryer lint and used cooking oil?
This is upcycling at its best. Don't ya think?
Watch how I use the dryer lint fire starters to start a fire in this video:
Ready to make some no-wax dryer lint fire starters?
No-Wax Dryer Lint Fire Starters
- dryer lint
- used cooking oil
- glass jar
- Pack dryer lint into a small glass jar. You can fill it to the top, or do this in layers, making it easier to saturate all of your lint with oil.
- Pour some oil over the dryer lint, adding enough to fully wet all of it. I've found that the best way to get the oil dispersed throughout is to press on the lint and oil until the oil spreads throughout the entire jar. Keep adding layers of lint and oil until your jar is full, or until you have used up all of your materials.
- You now have your dryer lint fire starters ready! It's easy as that!
- To use your fire starter, pull off a small piece of oiled dryer lint and ignite it. It should burn for long enough to help you start your fire!
Why do I love these no wax dryer lint fire starters?
I hate buying fire starters that are full of potentially toxic chemicals. Plus, I never know what to do with used cooking oil or dryer lint. Now, I can use them in a practical way!
By making this and storing it in a cute jar on your mantle, these fire starters are much more attractive to keep around than the old egg carton fire starters. They take up a lot less room, and are much quicker and easier to make!