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Homemade DIY firelighters for free

Photo: Homemade firelighters

Photo: Homemade firelighters

“The wood burner’s gone out again and we’ve run out of firelighters.”
Danny was exasperated. We need the wood burner to be chugging away all evening. The heating is on for a couple of hours from 8-10pm but the stove warms the kitchen and takes the chill off the bedroom above. A snug bolt hole on a chilly winter evening is essential.

Many years ago I dropped in to see my Aunt and found Uncle Peter making firelighters out of rolled and knotted newspaper. I adored my Uncle. Handsome and debonair, he loved horseracing, country pursuits and poured a whisky and soda to die for.

Although he always trained his own gun dogs, which needs patience and skill, he was not known as a practical man. In fact this was the first time that I’d seen him doing anything remotely useful for the house. These firelighters were secretly christened ‘Uncle Peters’ by my family from that historic day.

When he died I was astonished to find a pair of jeans amongst the dapper suits in his wardrobe. I mentioned this discovery to my aunt her response was quick.
“I bought them for him. He wore them just once.”
She could be a bit of a dragon.

We have made ‘Uncle Peters’ in the past. These work reasonably well but are a bit of a fiddle to make, need really dry kindling and are not wildly efficient. Last week, without a trusty firelighter, I suddenly had a brainwave. The coal scuttle was full of loo roll tubes. I scrunched up newspaper really tight and pushed it into a roll leaving a ‘wick’ of newspaper at one end. Danny lit the wick and placed the tube in amongst the damp kindling. It burnt for quite a while and easily lit the temperamental stove.

So don’t throw away your loo roll or kitchen roll tubes. They make terrific firelighters and they’re free.

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  1. In a previous house when I had to light the fire every day for heat and hot water I used to use newspaper firelighters made the way my dad used to. This involves rolling, flattening then plaiting the paper then you have to twist the plait inside the loop in the middle of the roll where you started. Some people do it with crisp packets in pubs. They are absolutely solid and burn really slowly although they do work best with broadsheet sized papers. My mother used to just tie them in knots when we were little but I like to use my Dad’s technique. I also had access to nice dry off-cuts of wood from the technology department at school so I could usually get a good fire going very quickly.

  2. Years ago we lived in a cottage with an open fire. The bottom of the coal scuttle was always full of coal dust and bits. We used to take the loo roll and fold in one end, then pack it tight with bits of coal and dust. Fold down the other end, and you have a ‘brickette’ for free.

  3. Now do you use the loo rolls for the fire or for growing things in… that is the question. Although I did read on Daughter of the Soil that the loo roll can leach chemicals into the growing plant. So maybe they are only worth throwing on the fire.

  4. Firelighters – tsk tsk – we always use newspaper screws but I’ll try the loo roll thing next time I light the fire. Newspaper does need dry kindling – I used to dry this off in the bottom oven of our old Rayburn – the new one has seperate oven and heating burners so isn’t hot except for when the oven is actually on – have to resort to keeping it next to the lounge’s big woodburner and hope we have enough dry when it’s needed.

  5. Yet another saving, Fiona! We don’t buy firelighters either and have a huge box of bits of cardboard, loo rolls etc. ready to be used as “kindling”.

    Newspaper is excellent too and needn’t be time-consuming. Just take a sheet and twist it up really tightly into a roll, then tie it into a knot.

    I once read somewhere that you can buy a gadget that turns newspaper into “logs” – Can’t recommend it, because I’ve never tried it and we don’t really need one here, but it does sound like a good idea.

  6. kate (uk)

    Kitchen roll insides- just a little bit larger than loo roll insides- make excellent cracker insides in December and in November they are good for planting sweet pea seeds. Now I know what to use them for in January and February too!

  7. moggymerlin

    Great idea Fiona – I’m off to make some now.

  8. Veronica

    How funny! That is *exactly* what I do with our loo roll tubes and newspaper. We never buy firelighters.

  9. Great advice – will definitely be trying that for our stove! Thanks

  10. Good idea. We tear ours up and add them to the compost!

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