Making Firestarters — photos

Although over the past few weeks I have continued cooking a number of dishes from my collection of recipes, for this post, I decided to highlight another obsessive hobby of mine: Making firestarters!

I make these firestarters in such large quantities over time that I have few hard numbers quantifying “how much wax” or “how long to allow cooling” or “melt to what temperature”; it is a matter of experience and “feel”, although it is a process which could easily lend itself to measured amounts.

The process allows for me to do many of the steps below separately, as well prepare “for the next batch”.

Although I used to regularly sell these at craft fairs and flea markets, I now just liberally give them out to my neighbours at the cottage, as well as of course using them myself to light fires in the fireplace at the cottage during heating season.

Preparing the egg carton wells:

Flats from eggs sold in bulk were taken out:

Egg carton flats taken out
Egg carton flats taken out

Each flat is brought up to the light and checked for holes:

Flat checked for holes in the light. This flat has three wells with holes in them.

The wells with holes were cut out of the egg carton flat:

Wells with holes cut out

Flats were then trimmed around the edges:

Flat trimmed around the edges

Trimmed flats are stacked together for future cutting:

Trimmed flats stacked
Trimmed flats stacked

Flats were cut into pieces to be further cut:

Flat cut into pieces to be further cut into pieces

The flat pieces were again cut into manageable pieces:

Flat cut again into pieces

The pieces were cut into individual sets of wells of varying formats (2, 3, or 4 wells) for making the firestarters:

Flat cut into formats of 2, 3, and 4 wells

The cut wells are stored in a box:

Cut wells stored in box

Making the firestarters:

Melting the wax:

A portable electric countertop stove was turned on:

Stove turned on

Some old candles were placed in a pot:

Old candles placed in a pot

The pot of old candles was placed on the stove:

Pot of candles placed on the stove

The wax was melted:

Melting wax

When “enough” wax was melted …

Melted wax

… liquid wax was poured off into a coffee can, which is a convenient size for dipping the filled egg carton wells and soaking them in wax:

Liquid wax poured into a coffee can
Liquid wax in coffee can

Large unmelted pieces of wax were put aside for the next batch, and some solids such as a metal wick base and a wick were transferred to another coffee can where solids from the melting of waxes is collected, to be later rendered for its wax value, and the solids burned in the fireplace:

Solids from candle meliting saved in a coffee can

Preparing the egg cartons:

Cut egg carton wells were laid out on a tray:

Cut egg carton wells laid on a tray

Using a sawdust and wax filler:

At this point, a sawdust filler is used, which I normally create after the current step; hence here, I used sawdust filler made during a previous batch. If you have not done so , see the sections (lower down) on making the sawdust and wax filler.

Cubes of sawdust and wax

The wells of the cut egg cartons were filled with the sawdust and wax mixture:

Egg carton wells filled with sawdust and wax mix

Dipping the filled egg carton wells in the melted wax:

A grouping of egg carton wells filled with sawdust and wax mix was picked up with a pair of pliers, and brought over to the coffee can of liquid wax:

Egg carton wells with sawdust and wax picked up with pliers, brought to coffee can of liquid wax

The wells were dipped in the liquid wax:

Wells dipped in liquid wax

The dipped wells were lifted out of the liquid wax:

Dipped wells lifted out of liquid wax

The dipped well was returned to the tray:

Dipped well returned to tray

The rest of the wells were dipped in the liquid wax:

All wells dipped in liquid wax

The tray of firestarters was placed on the lawn outside my shed where there was a light breeze to help cool the firestarters:

Firestarters placed in the breeze to cool

Trimming the firestarters:

The mostly cooled firestarters were picked up, in order to trim the solidified wax from the bottoms:

Mostly cooled firestarters picked up, to trim solidified wax from bottoms

The solidified wax was trimmed off the bottoms of the firestarters:

Wax trimmed off bottoms of firestarters

The wax trimmings were placed back in the pot with the unmelted candles, to be melted during the making of a future batch of firestarters:

Wax trimmings placed in pot

Making the sawdust and wax filling:

Sawdust was taken out:

Sawdust taken out

Sawdust was placed on a tray:

Sawdust placed on tray

The liquid wax, which at this point had started cooling and hardening, was placed back on the stove to remelt the wax:

Melted wax placed back on stove

The remelted wax was slowly poured over the sawdust:

Melted wax poured over sawdust
Melted wax poured over sawdust

Sawdust not having absorbed any liquid wax was shifted on top of the rest with hot wax:

Sawdust covering the rest with hot wax

More sawdust was added to cover the wax soaked sawdust:

More sawdust added to cover the wax soaked sawdust

The sawdust was pressed down with my hands to spread out the hot wax:

Sawdust pressed down with my hands

The wax and sawdust were put aside in order to cool for a few hours:

Wax and sawdust allowed to cool

The rest of making the filler can be found at the end of this page, after the section on bagging the firestarters.

Cutting and trimming fireststarters:

The firestarters, now having cooled, were brought into the house, and placed on a working surface, a piece of plywood board on the floor:

Firestarters placed on a cutting surface

A knife with a serrated blade was taken out to cut the firestarters into individual units:

Knife with serrated blade taken out to cut firestarters into individual units

The firestarters were cut into individual units:

Firestarters cut into individual units
Firestarters cut into individual units
Firestarters cut into individual units

The protruding bits of sawdust and wax were trimmed with a pocket knife:

Protruding bits of sawdust and wax trimmed with pocket knife
Protruding bits of sawdust and wax trimmed with pocket knife
Protruding bits of sawdust and wax trimmed with pocket knife

Sometimes, an individual firestarter does not need to be trimmed:

Firestarter not needing to be trimmed

Here is the pile of trimmed firestarters:

Pile of trimmed firestarters

Trimmings from the firestarters were placed in the can, for use in a future batch of firestarters:

Trimmings placed in can, for use in a future batch of firestarters

Bagging the firestarters:

The trimmed firestarters were grouped in dozens (in this case, three dozen):

Trimmed firestarters grouped in dozens

Seven inch by eight inch sealable bags were taken out:

Sealable bags taken out
Sealable bags taken out

Firestarters were placed in bags, a dozen per bag:

Firestarters were placed in bag

Prior to making this batch of firestarters, printed out labels were copied, four to a page (and for this post, my phone number was blacked out in the pictures):

Printed out labels, four to a page

Labels were cut:

Labels cut
Labels cut
Labels cut

Labels were folded over (note that I live in a predominantly French-speaking area, hence the text is in both English and French):

Label folded over

A folded over label was placed in each bag:

Folded over label placed in bag

And here are the three bags of firestarters made in this batch, ready to give away or sell:

Three bags of firestarters

The bags of firestarters were placed in a plastic crate with other bags of firestarters:

Bags of firestarters placed in a crate with other bags of firestarters

Back to making the sawdust filling:

A while later, when the sawdust and wax mix had completely cooled, excess sawdust on the tray was transferred back into the bucket of sawdust:

Loose sawdust transferred back to bucket
Loose sawdust transferred back to bucket

Excess sawdust was brushed off of the cooled and solidified sawdust and wax mix:

Excess sawdust brushed off cooled and solidified sawdust and wax mix

The cooled and solidified sawdust and wax mix was brought to my work surface:

Cooled and solidified sawdust and wax mix brought to work surface

Some of the pieces of solidified sawdust and wax mixture were placed on the work surface to cut into smaller pieces:

Pieces of solidified sawdust and wax mixture placed on work surface

The pieces of sawdust and wax were cut into fairly small cubes (about half an inch) :

Solidified sawdust and wax mix

Some of the sawdust and wax pieces were sliced into lengths …

Some pieces sliced into lengths

… which were then cut into about half inch cubes:

Slices of sawdust and wax cut into half inch cubes

Finally, the cubes and crumbs were placed into a container, to be used as filler for a future batch of firestarters.

Cubes and crumbs placed in container

If you came from the top section to see how to make the sawdust filler, return to the section on filling the egg carton wells.

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