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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. Hi, it’s easy. First get some cotton wool balls from Mum or Wife, some old candles. get a suacepan and break up the old candle into the saucepan. Next get a larger saucepan and 3/4 fill with water and place saucepan with broken up candle ontop and place over stove, bring water to just below boiling point so that the wax melts. Using a pair of bbq tongs place the cotton wool balls into the melted wax and squeeze them a bit to help the wax to be absorbed. When the balls are fully soaked with wax remove them and place on a chopping board(not a wooden one or they will stick)and let them set. each one will burn for about 6 minutes. I only use 3 under kinling to make my fires.

  2. nogginthelog

    Hello to all. Just discovered this site.

    I wonder if anyone has heard of lighting fire from the top downwards? Lay medium size logs on the grate then a layer of dry kindling followed by a layer of newspaper knotted so it does not fall. Then a match to the top of the newspaper and the fire lights. I was not convinced when I first heard about it but I tried it and it works!

    • Fiona Nevile

      Hello Nogginthelog

      Thanks for this tip. I’m going to try this next time we light the stove to cure our bacon!

  3. Danny Boy

    Hello All,

    I have always used dry tea bags to start my fires, I leave them on the kitchen window seal to dry fully then soak them in Diesel, they are great and last a long time too.

    Don’t use Petrol though !!!!

    Hope this helps.

    Regards Danny.

  4. Don’t forget to dry potato peels to start a fire, also stops build-up of creosote in the chimney

  5. Brilliant idea, we normally compost or re-cycle ours.

  6. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Linda

    So did we in the past.

    Hello Gemma

    It works well with a few sticks of kindling.

    Hello Veronica

    That’s amazing and I thought that I’d had a young Einstein moment 😉

    Hi Kate(uk)

    Thanks for the cracker tip! And the sweet pea tip. Unfortunately I forgot about my sweet pea seeds in November…

    Hi Casalba

    Those rolled and knotted newspaper croissants are Uncle Peters! Yes, I can see that thicker cardboard would be good too.

    We have that gadget for log making. Apparently they are very good. We also have 2 large boxes of recycled paper waitig to be transformed. Perhaps this weekend as I have a free day.

    Hi Carol

    If we remember to bring kindling in beside the wood burner, no problem but if we forget the kindling is a bit damp. The loo rolls do work well.

    Hello S.O.L.

    I did read somewhere that loo rolls are treated with fungiside so can affect the growth of plantlets. Kitchen roll cut up would be fine like egg boxes as they have to conform to food quality standards.

    Hi Malc

    Thanks for a brilliant idea!

    Hi Pamela

    Your dad’s ones sound similar to Uncle Peter’s. He always used broadsheets (this was before the days when everything became tabloid sized). You are spot on, dry kindling is the answer.

    Hello KarenO

    What bad news about the gas fire. Obselete within six years? I know how expensive they are, my sister had one fitted and it cost a bomb.

    We are lucky. There was a woodburner in the cottage when I moved in. This winter it’s really come into its own as it’s so much cheaper to run than the oil central heating. If you can stick to just burning logs you don’t have to clear it out for months. Ours isn’t widly efficient but by making new door seals out of aluminium foil it keeps in well and only burns 3-4 logs a night.

    Hello Mr Greenwood

    Yes Malc’s briquettes sound great.

    By the way I ventured onto your blog and spent a very happy half hour!

    Hi Rachel

    I’m sure that he would be amazed.

    Hi Jules

    They work well in an emergency and thinking about it, packed with dry kindling and paper they’d probably be even better.

  7. This is a great tip. I’m forever forgetting to buy firelighters.

  8. My (ex boy scout) husband thinks firelighters are cheating and we always use newspaper – but with little dry kindling to be found at the moment I’m sure there would be tolerated!

  9. Mr Greenwood

    A lovely post, likewise I normally compost these but will split the haul into “Uncle Peters” and Malc’s “brickettes” . Your uncle sounds like a man after my own heart…off for a whisky & soda!

  10. Brilliant ideas. We compost ours and I was going to try to use them to grow seeds in this year. We haven’t got a wood burner. We’ve been considering one for about a year but thought it wrong to rip out a perfectly good & quite expensive, open, coal effect, very convenient, no work, 6 year old gas fire. Unfortunately the fire gave up on us the week before Christmas! Ever since we’ve had the thing fitted we’ve hardly been able to use it in winter as our winters in the SW of Englad are so mild and we do have oil heating. We’ve enjoyed it in autumn & spring but never when you want the visual joy of it in winter & now it has left us at the coldest spell! Repair would have been £200.00 but the fire may be obsolete (at 6yrs old!). So tonight we have someone coming to give us some idea of wood burners for the front room! So very timely advice. Thank you Fiona for posting this.

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