September and October are great months for camping. The leaves will be changing colors soon, and the temperatures are just right. There are lots of camping grounds within a one-day drive of Pensacola: Ft. Pickens, Black Water State Park, D’Lo, Pauquette, and so many more. It’s a great time for a Mom and Me camp out, a family camp, or some outdoor activity that will allow the new members of a group to get to know each other.
If the camp you select allows ground fires, one of the things you’ll want to bring along is a set of fire starters. Fire starters are easy to make, and meet a Girl Scout requirement for making camping gear for a patrol box.
To make fire starters, you will need
- Paper egg cartons
- Candle stubs
- Saw dust
- An old pot you don’t care about a whole lot
- Tin can that fits inside the pot
- Old spoon or fork you don’t care about or Popsicle sticks
Put one or two inches of water into a cook pot, and heat it to boiling. Use a pair of pliers to bend a pouring spout into the side of a tin can. Put candle stubs and other scraps of wax or paraffin into the can. Place the can into the hot water to melt the wax. This is called a double boiler, because the heat is not applied directly to the wax.
A safety rule about working with wax is that you can add wax to water, but not water to wax. If the wax is really hot, and water drips into it, it will spurt and spit when the water turns into steam. One option for avoiding this is to heat the wax just until it melts.
Use a pair of pliers to pick up the can when performing the next step.
When the wax is liquid, pour a teaspoon or two into a paper egg carton cup. You can also use the paper cups that apples get shipped in, or any similar paper carton. While it is still warm, add a spoon of saw dust, and mix the two together. Add a little more saw dust, and keep mixing until you can’t add any more.
Pour a little wax into the top lid of the egg carton, too, and mix some saw dust in with that. If there are candle wicks at the bottom of the can when you are done pouring the wax, fish them out with a spoon or stick, and add one to each cup. If you mix the wax with Popsicle sticks, add the stick to the lid. It will burn, too. Let the whole thing cool.
Close the egg carton and it can be transported to the campsite. To use the fire starters, tear the cups apart. Nestle one or two into the tinder and leaves at the base of the fire. Light the paper or wick, and it will light the wax.
If you want to make fire starters at a group meeting, but you aren’t allowed to use a stove, you can make a sort of fire starter mix from dryer lint, saw dust, shavings of candle wax, old birthday candles, and shredded paper. Pull the dryer lint apart into small pieces, but leave it fluffy. The wax can be shaved with a vegetable grater, or by whittling it with a knife. Put all the ingredients into a zip lock bag, and shake them together until well mixed.