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Green&Chic; DIY: Come On Baby, Light My (Recycled) Fire

By Linsibrownson @CleverSpark

I have many fond childhood memories of sitting by the fire on a cold winter’s night. We had a fantastically huge fireplace that took up the whole wall and it had a stone hearth that I loved sitting on to watch the embers glow. I remember one year my parents bought pine cone fire starters that turned the flames different colors. They would toss one in and my sisters and I would watch in amazement as the orange flames turned green, red and blue.

Come on baby, light my fire.

"A house is not a home unless it contains food and fire for the mind as well as the body. " Benjamin Franklin

Winters with a fireplace just seem magical to me and the smell of burning wood always makes me feel cozy and warm inside. I can think of no better way to spend an evening than by the fire with a good book, a good friend, or a good (and boozy) drink. Possibly the only way to top it off would be to listen to this on surround sound while the crackling fire laps at my toes and I lap my drink.

I haven’t had a wood burning fireplace in a number of years, and thanks to a friend, I have recently had the pleasure of reacquainting myself with the art of indoor fire making. Let me begin by saying that fires, while beautiful in their amber majesty, are not always an easy thing to conjure up. I have spent hours trying to get one going, and even with the help of other people I still cannot manage to keep it burning for more than a few minutes. I decided that expensive store-bought fire starters are out of the question so I took a cue from my childhood days and decided to look into making my own fire starters made from materials easily found around the house.

There are a range of ideas and materials to use, but I chose to stick with the ones that included things I have in abundance: pine cones, shredded paper, and wax. Just these three things alone will reward you with a roaring fire and a lovely smelling house that just begs for guests to entertain. To keep things even greener (and cheaper) recycle your candle stubs and leftover wax rather than buying new. Jar candles can be placed in the freezer for a few hours to harden the wax. With just a gentle nudge, it should come loose without much of a problem. Votive and taper nubs can be tossed into a old metal pot or crock pot and melted down (just be sure to remove any debris, metal or old wicks before using).

Cupcake Fire Starters

These cute and practical fire starters are easy to assemble and pack quite a punch, using cedar chips, recycled wax, and paper cupcake tin liners. Native Americans have used cedar in ceremonies and sweat lodges for centuries for it's protective and purification properties, and to banish bad dreams.

(Cupcake Fire Starters Instructions)

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Pine Cone Fire Starter

These natural pine cone fire starters are beautiful in their simplicity. Using a white wax helps further enforce the connection to the stark and monochrome palette of winter. Adding essential oils to the wax creates a beautiful scent that will not offend even the most sensitive nose.

(Pine Cone Fire Starter Instructions)

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Pine Needle Fire Starters

Pine needles can be found almost anywhere and they make a great kindling for starting fires. Simply collect a grocery bag of dry (but still green) needles, round up some non-styrofoam egg cartons and melt down some left over wax and you have all of the supplies necessary to make these 100% recycled fire starters. They're compact enough to be packed for a camping trip and give off the cheery aroma of pine when burned.

(Pine Needle Fire Starters)

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These DIY fire starters make great hostess and housewarming gifts. I recently read a wedding blog post where the bride and groom gave them as favors in place of the usual candy box or other traditional trinket. They also make a stunning table centerpiece and can be handed out to guests as they depart for the evening.

You can also DIY your own colored fire starters. Easy to find substances such as allum (used for making canned pickles), borax, and table salt give your flames a hint of color and brings everyone around the fire to see the show. This is particularly fun for kids and those who have a penchant for science or chemistry. You can separate them based on their colors or just throw a few different varieties into the fireplace and see what happens.

As always, practice safety first and never leave children around a fire unsupervised. Nothing ruins a party quite like spilled milk a trip to the emergency room.

Happy Crafting!

E


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