If you go camping a lot, chances are good that you also do a lot of laundry.
That necessary chore can be a pain, but it can also produce a key ingredient for a fire starter that might just make searching for piles of pine needles a thing of the past.
Yes, I’m talking about dryer lint. The gray, fluffy stuff you frequently clean out of the filter and throw away is actually a flammable gold mine.
The best thing about this hack is that it creates a self-sustaining circle of camping opportunities. When you sit by a roaring fire, the smell of wood smoke works its way into your shirts and pants, which prompts you to clean them when you get home. A load of laundry then makes more lint, which you can store up and then use to start future fires.
It’s a beautiful cycle.
Another good thing? Making these fire starters takes materials that would otherwise be thrown into the trash or recycled and puts them to good use.
• dryer lint
• empty cardboard egg carton (of the dozen-egg variety)
• candle (stubs are best)
• old newspapers or junk mail
• match, lighter, or other fire source
Making the fire starter
- Clean out the lint trap on your dryer after every few loads. (You should be doing this regularly anyway, right?) Save the lint in a bag until you have a ball of it roughly the size of a large cantaloupe.
- Tear off chunks of the lint and form them into egg-sized lumps. This step can get messy.
- Put one lint ball into each compartment of the egg carton.
- Put down scrap paper to protect whatever surface you’re working on, and place the carton in the middle of the paper.
- Remove any metal bases from half a dozen candle stubs or broken candle pieces and drop the chunks of wax into a microwave-safe cup (a glass measuring cup with a handle and pouring spout works best). Heat it until all the wax is melted, stirring the softening mixture about once every minute.
- Drip the hot wax over the lumps in the cups. Don’t create a solid layer, though. Aim for a sort of thick drizzling effect, like frosting on a cinnamon roll.
- Close up the carton and pack it for your next trip.
Once in the woods, open the lid and cut one or two of the compartments out of the base of the carton. Tuck the cardboard-wax-and-lint balls among some larger twigs, and light the cardboard on fire.
The carton should ignite pretty quickly, but the lint and wax burn a little more slowly and steadily, giving your kindling plenty of time to catch and get the larger logs going. Soon, you’ll have a raging fire—and a reason to do laundry again when you get home.