Camping Lore

Here is where I’m sharing tips I’ve discovered for making the camping life easier and fun.


DIY Campfire Kindlers

 This is a nifty way to streamline your campfire lighting process.  I have been making these kindlers for decades and using them for lighting fires in the wood stove and fireplace as well.  My family and friends are in the mode of saving their old lopsided Christmas candles and broken crayons for me to melt down for the next batch of kindlers.  Here’s how I do it using only three ingredients: sawdust, cardboard egg cartons, and paraffin (wax).

Collect sawdust from the firewood lot or from under the table saw.  If you don’t have any sawdust at home, ask a friend who has a woodworking shop if you can have a box or bag of his sawdust.

Melt old candles in an old double boiler or saucepan.
Collect old candles to repurpose them as kindlers.

 Start by melting the old candles in a double boiler or saucepan.  It is important that you not be interrupted and walk away while the heat is on, as wax will ignite if it gets too hot.  I have solved this potential problem by using a hotplate with an adjustable control set on medium; it will melt the wax quickly but never reach ignition temperature.

Melt old wax in a saucepan.
Melt the old wax in a saucepan or double boiler.

 If you have a shortage of old candles, you can find paraffin in one-pound boxes in the home canning section of your neighborhood supermarket, and it will work fine for this.

Keep your used cardboard egg cartons and fill them with sawdust.
Lay out your egg cartons and fill them with sawdust.

  While the wax is melting, fill the egg cartons with sawdust on a flat surface.  Protect your workbench from spillage with cardboard or old newspapers.

  When the wax is all melted, pour it over the egg cartons, filling each “egg” with wax.  Let them cool for an hour and they are ready to use!

Pour melted wax over the sawdust filled egg cartons.
Pour melted wax over the sawdust filled egg cartons.

  To start a campfire, simply break off one of the “eggs” and place it next to the first log in the fire circle and light it.   It will burn for ten minutes while you place sticks and wood kindling over it.

Place a kindler in the fire ring and light it.
Place a kindler in the fire ring and light it.

 You never again need to struggle with newspapers or rolled-up paper towels.  And as an authentic  camper,  resorting to lighter fluid is hard on your self-respect!

  This is a great way to recycle egg cartons, old candles, and sawdust, and they are so handy, I even take them backpacking with me.  I just break off a half dozen and place them in a zip lock sandwich bag — to keep sawdust out of my gear.

The kindler will burn for ten minutes.
The kindler will burn for ten minutes.
Voila!  The easiest fire start ever!
Voila! The easiest fire start ever!

  Oh, a word to the wise here:  You might make the boy scouts hate you when you start your campfire in 30 seconds while they are rubbing their sticks together in the next campsite.   Best to offer their cook some space for his kettle on your fire while the rest of them are out searching for dry birch bark and flint to get their fire going.

Happy S’mores!

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