Archive for November, 2010

Egg Carton Fire Starters

Since I was camping last weekend, I wanted to take advantage of the trip to test out a homemade fire starter. Back in May, I wrote an article called 5 Campfire Starting Tools

Fire

In researching starting a campfire I had run across many different tips and techniques. But, I wanted to try the Egg Carton Fire Starter tip submitted by Par:

I take dryer lint and push it into the cups of a cardboard egg carton. Then I melt wax and pour it over the entire egg carton, trying to soak it as much as possible. I use one cup per fire. I usually have successful fires with this type of starter. Please do not use Styrofoam for this project, it melts and gives off noxious fumes.

So I gave it a shot!

Materials Needed:

  • Dryer lint
  • Cardboard egg carton
  • Unscented candle
  • Matches

Egg Carton

Dryer LintI’d been saving my dryer lint just to try this (gross, I know!) and a cardboard egg carton. I filled each of the holes with as much lint as it would hold. It was basically one load’s worth of lint per egg holder.

Egg cups with lint

Then, I lit my candle and waited until I had a pool of wax. I then poured the wax from the candle over the lint. I was trying to form a seal over the lint and soak as much wax as possible into the cardboard.

Egg cups with wax

The big white globs in the photo? That was cooled drips and puddles of wax I heated over the flame and then pressed into the lint.

I know what you’re thinking: this would have been a lot easier with a block of paraffin and a double boiler. And you’re absolutely correct except for a couple of things: I don’t own a double boiler (or a pot I could sacrifice for the name of a blog post!) AND I’m flat-out dangerous when it comes to open flames and wax! So I figured that the candle would be safer for me. Feel free to use a double boiler if you’re making a large batch of these starters.

It took me about 3 hours from start to finish. Most of the time was waiting for enough liquid wax to accumulate on my candle to then pour over the lint. After fussing with it all evening, I was wholeheartedly ready to report that this wasn’t worth it.

But I was wrong about that!

When I got to test this out on Saturday night, I made a little teepee with my wood and set a single fire starter in the middle. Now, as you can see from the photo at the top of this article, my wood was NOT kindling. It wasn’t even small!

I just lit the edges of the egg carton fire starter with my utility fire lighter and that was it. There was no newspaper, pine needles, grass, or twigs. Just one little fire starter and go.

One part I really liked about making these fire starters was that it really didn’t take a lot of wax for each egg cup. I wasn’t trying to form a solid block of wax over the lint, just enough to hold it in place. As soon as the wax was cool (about 10 minutes after the last pour) I broke the egg carton apart with my fingers and put the 6 cups I made into a zippered baggie.

The cardboard egg carton fire starters are basically free and pretty easy to make. The only thing that isn’t so cool about these is that they aren’t very water proof.

Readers Weigh In:

  • What is your favorite homemade fire starter?
  • Have you ever made egg carton fire starters? How did they work? What did you use to fill the egg cups?

Preparing A Tent For Storage

No matter what, when you get home from a tent camping trip, you should open up and tent and let it dry out. ESP Boss & I suffered the dynamic duo of tent destroyers on our kayaking trip: camping on sand AND rain.

When we got home it was still kind of rainy so we decided to set the tent up in my garage and dry it out and clean it up.

Why Dry It Out:

Moisture on the tent, even just from dew or condensation from breathing, will cause mildew. Gross! And mildew not only smells and looks bad, it will eventually eat through the tent material.

Why Clean It Out:

Sand is a very abrasive. Just think of sand paper! So you don’t want it rubbing or even poking into the sides causing small tears in the fabric.

Both will keep your tent in tip-top camping condition for years to come.

Steps:

  1. Fully set up your tent in a well ventilated area that is not going to receive dew or rain.
  2. With no shoes on, inspect the floor of the tent for tears or holes.

    No shoes in a tent

    Use a folded towel to cushion your knees.

  3. With a small, hand-held broom, sweep from the corners of the tent to the door.

    sweeping

    Do you SEE all that sand!?

  4. Use a dustpan (or a vacuum hose attachment!) to remove any dirt.
  5. Tip the tent on its side (if you can) and gently wash the tent bottom with a soft rag and plain water.

    tent bottom

    Um, don't mind all the stuff in my garage!

  6. Examine the walls & ceiling of the tent for tears or holes.

    check walls

    Running a hand along the fabric can help you find tears and holes.

  7. Check the zippers of the tent (doors and windows!) for bent or missing teeth.
  8. Allow the tent to dry completely before packing it away.
  9. As you tear down the tent and pack it away, examine the tent poles for stress or breakage.

Perform the same steps with the rain fly and ground cloth!

You’ll want to do this after EVERY trip, not just at the end of the season!

Readers Weigh In:

  • What do you do to put your tent back into order after a trip?
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