DIY Natural Fire Starters

February 23, 2024

By Rose Richardson, Conservancy staff

Fire is so much more than a chemical reaction. It’s kinship. She’s a spirit that shakes memories loose, warms our bodies and minds, brings us closer together, and feeds the spot where she burns. Give her some structure, a spark, a little of your own breath, and she’ll roar with you. Nourish her, and she’ll stick around long enough to leave the sweet smell of woodsmoke on your clothes. Does she seem to burn brighter and longer with laughter? I think so. Her embers glitter as she leaves, and the cooling air brings with it an appreciation for your friend, and an eagerness to see her again soon.

A friendship with fire is built with time and experience. Often through family. Thank you to my family for leading me down the path of friendship with fire and showing me tools, like this one, to entice her to come visit more often.

This simple recipe is for anyone who hopes to call a fiery friend to their hearth a little easier this winter. Made from 100% recycled materials, these fire starters can be made with common items found in just about anyone’s home. They burn hot, long, and are water resistant – a camping essential! Hold onto your egg cartons, old candles, and fallen conifer needles; this recipe will become a regular in your house!

Material Check List:

  • One medium-sized pot
  • One large tin can for melting wax
  • One rubber spatula
  • One egg carton
  • Wax, about 6 ounces
  • Green (but dry) conifer needles, enough to fill egg carton

Notes: Needles burn differently! Species with more flammable needles include Grand Fir, Douglas Fir, and Western Red Cedar. Firs are one of the most common holiday trees, so this is a good opportunity to give that tree a second life once the holidays are over. If you don’t have conifer needles handy, a good alternative is shredded paper!

Beeswax and soy wax burn longer than paraffin wax, so these work slightly better when trying to start a fire. However, making fire starters is a good opportunity to put old candles to good use. Recycle or upcycle before seeking out new materials!

Optional: Aromatic flowers, like rose petals or lavender. Small pieces of tree pitch.

Remember! Pitch is extremely flammable and can extend how long your fire starter will last while you
feed your initial fire. Gather pitch responsibly. Pitch is a sign of a tree attempting to heal itself, so only take pitch from the ground or if it’s fully dried on the tree. If the pitch is still wet and sticky, it’s not ready to be collected.


1. Prepare the egg carton

  • Cut the top half of the egg carton off, so you’re left with just the cups.
  • Fill these cups with the conifer needles or shredded paper.
  • If you’re adding flowers or pitch, now is the time to sprinkle those on top of the conifer needles or paper.

2. Melt the wax

  • Place the wax inside the large tin can.
  • Make a double-boiler by placing the can inside the pot, then filling the pot about halfway with water.
  • Put the pot on the stove and heat over medium-low. You don’t want the water to quite boil, just get
    warm enough to slowly melt the wax.
  • Be watchful during this part and stir the wax often with a rubber spatula! The wax will be very hot and is

3. Coat the egg carton

  • Pour the wax evenly over the egg carton. Make sure to coat the needles or paper too!
  • If you manage to soak the whole carton, your fire starters will be nearly waterproof!

4. Let them set, then cut and store!

  • Let the fire starters sit for a couple of hours to cool fully.
  • When the wax has hardened, cut the cups apart with kitchen scissors or a knife, and store them in an air-tight container or bag.

5. Start your fire!

  • Build a small structure of kindling in a dry fire-safe spot and place the fire starter inside.
  • Light the fire starter and slowly feed it increasingly large materials until your fire is a desirable size!