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Discussion about making bushwalking-related equipment.
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DIY Wax fire starters

Mon 31 May, 2021 5:15 pm

If you use tiny or large fires for heating and cooking while bushwalking these fire starters make a great way to get a blaze burning quickly under difficult conditions.


I thought of crossing over the Ultralight Backpacking Subforum for this topic. However, my stuff is not a good fit there with an ultralight base weight of less than 4.5kg. Probably hot food is an excessive luxury. However, these tiny waterproof homemade fire starters fit under MYOG and possibly under cheapskates, and reusing if such subforums existed.

Thin fire starters. These are made from newspaper soaked in molten candle wax from old candle remains (left). These are the most efficient with respect to weight and backpack volume. They also can be made with waste cooking oil or tallow if you wish to avoid an industrially manufactured wax. As they burn they may remind you of a lovely home-cooked dinner as you prepare your bushwalking dehydrated dinner.

One or two of these will suffice for starting a fire under good conditions. However, thicker ones may be needed for more difficult conditions.

Thick fire starters. I make these the same way as the thin ones but use the tops of egg cartons for the cellulose support strips.

Fame drizzle sticks. The flame from the above wax/paper strips burn upwards and sometimes a drizzling downwards flame is just the thing to spread a fire quickly. My preferred plastic for these is the plentiful 2L plastic milk bottle. A combination of all three sticks makes a comprehensive fire starting kit for both good and bad conditions and they burn well when wet.

Burning plastic is offensive to some. However, in small quantities, when burnt cleanly any pollution is inconsequential and little different to burning wood.

Here is a little video of a wood gas smoke stove being re-started as a flame using a thin fire starter.

For more details on the fire starters please see my website post:

Re: DIY Wax fire starters

Mon 31 May, 2021 5:28 pm

Or you can use the fairly popular cotton buds covered in Vaseline.

Re: DIY Wax fire starters

Wed 02 Jun, 2021 12:10 am

A similar concept is to replace nasty solid fuel hexamine blocks for use in an old-school folding Esbit cooker by the simple expedient of filling cardboard egg cartons with dry lawn clippings or dry grass and then pouring melted wax over them. Break off a piece as needed. If kept out of the wind, they will burn for long enough to boil a small pot or billy.

Re: DIY Wax fire starters

Wed 02 Jun, 2021 9:58 am

Bushman, That sounds like a good idea. In my post, I did not mention that I often use the bumpy egg holding part of the carton. I soak them in waste oil such as used cooking oil. I use a bump or two as wood fire starters at home and burning off around the farm.
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