Pinbusted or Pintrusted: Making Fire Starters With Toilet Paper Tubes

Photo: Judy Berna

Along with many of the other GeekMom writers around here, I am just a tiny bit addicted to Pinterest. I am the woman who used to rip pages out of magazines (way back in the 90s) and save them in carefully worded files like “Christmas Ideas” and “Cleaning Ideas”. And I’m talking about real files. The kind that hang in a file drawer, not the kind that collect on the computer screen. Then came Pinterest.

Now I can just pin ideas, or better yet, I can just go search for a holiday idea, the week before the holiday, and have plenty of ideas to choose from. For this reason, I’ve looked forward to every “Pintrusted or Pinbusted?” post that appears on GeekMom. Now it’s finally my turn to contribute.

We live in the mountains of Colorado and enjoy the fireplace that keeps us warm when we are all hanging out in the family room. I generally put my teen boys in charge of making the fires, since they have plenty of backwoods camping experience. But sometimes it’s my turn and I’m not the most successful fire starter. I have watched with interest every time ideas for homemade fire starters popped up on Pinterest. The one that fascinated me most was the toilet paper tube/dryer lint variety. We go through a lot of toilet paper around here. Ditto for the dryer lint that overflows the laundry room trash can.

While I had some of the boys home over the holiday I decided they could help me try it out. I’d been gathering the supplies for weeks and I was amazed how quickly the project went. From my Pinterest research, it looks like you just stuff dryer lint into the tubes and place them under your kindling and logs. Since dryer lint is so flammable, it is supposed to be a sure fire way to light a fire.

There were a few varieties that involved wax, but we couldn’t figure out how that would help the process at all, so we skipped it. Most of the ideas only listed two ingredients.

Our first attempt did not go well. We carefully made our little kindling tent, with a homemade fire starter underneath it, then larger logs on top. The little guy caught fire quickly but just seemed to simmer from there. At times we were not sure if it was even still burning. Not a raging success for lighting the bigger logs on fire. Even when we added a second one, we got pretty much the same results.

Photo: Judy Berna

My boys discussed our results and wondered if poking a few holes in the tube would help the air circulate better, causing a better flame. Out came the pocket knives and the poking began.

It helped a little, but only enough to help catch some ‘helper’ cardboard on fire that was next to it.

Then they decided that maybe it needed a channel of air. By pushing their fingers through the tube, they squashed the lint down to one side. This seemed to do the trick. Both of the starters we tried after that worked much better. They had decent flames and eventually did catch the kindling on fire. In a few minutes the large logs caught fire and we were in business.

Photo: Judy Berna

I will do this project again, mainly because I would be throwing away the lint and tubes anyway and it might be a good kick-starter to my fire making skills. It’s quick to do and not that messy to store. We still might try adding the wax component and I’d love to know (in the comments section) if anyone has had better luck with using wax. My assumption was that the wax only serves to hold the lint in place better, if you were hauling these things to campsites.

So I’d have to give this project a “Mostly Pintrusted” rating. It does technically work, if you make some of these adaptations to get better air flow. It’s a cheap way to assist in making fires, big and small.

I’d love to know if you’ve tried this project and if you have been pleased with your results.

You can check out our other “Pintrusted or Pinbusted?” posts here.

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