Let There Be Fire

We were finally able to get our small camper open for the year, so check out the YouTube video if you get a chance.  (There’s also some footage from our new drone!)  Anyways, the camper’s name is Turtle and she’s easily my favorite “thing” in the whole world.  We also got out to the lake and opened up the big camper.  I’ll post a video on that soon!

The process of opening up the campers is fairly simple.  Jeff gets the batteries connected so we have power.  I turn the key, step in and open the slide(s).  Theennnn….the work begins.  At the very least I sweep, mop and wipe down all the surfaces.  There’s a ton of dust that settles and somehow there always winds up being some dead bugs (those darn Asian beetles).  After that I haul in everything that I hauled out last winter.  I don’t like to leave things in the camper.  Empty campers are a safe haven for mice unfortunately.  Over the years I’ve come to terms with the idea that they will get in.  Knowing this, my goal is always to make sure they don’t have a reason to stay.  This means thoroughly cleaning to ensure no food or drink particles/spills are left behind when we close up.  I also remove all linens.  I pack up all towels, blankets, pillows, sheets, etc. into tote boxes and store them at base camp (our home in North Dakota).  I leave all the drawers and cabinets empty of anything that has fabric in it.  In other words, dishes and silverware and pots and pans all stay.  So, come Spring I have to haul everything back into each camper.  Seems like a lot of work but not nearly as much as cleaning up after mice.  So far, this has been a successful strategy for us.  Jeff and I spend the first few weekends at the lake each Spring listening to some of our neighbors tell their mouse horror stories and we’re always happy to not have any of these stories of our own.  (Someday I’ll tell you our only mouse story – and it’s a funny one rather than a horror story.)  There is a lot more to opening up but that’s not what this post is about.  haha

I actually really do enjoy unpacking everything each Spring.  It’s fun to remember where you had stuff the year before, what worked and what didn’t and to rearrange based on our experiences the year before with what stayed put while traveling and what didn’t.  As anyone who owns a camper knows, the number of items you keep for your camper is limited since the space is so limited and there are just a ton of memories tied to the items I’m unpacking which is what makes it an enjoyable chore.  Each year, when I get to the tote with the fire starters in it, I smile immensely.  This teeny tiny thing, which I make myself, has so much emotional value for me.  I learned how to make them when I was a young girl in Girl Scouts, then as a young woman I made them to start my first fires I ever started alone, then I taught my daughters how to make them.  We use them throughout the Spring, Summer and Fall each year and I make them during the winter since it’s easy to collect the things needed for them during our camping “down” time.

Since I have so many wonderful memories tied to making them and using them, I thought I’d share the “how to” for these.

FIRESTARTER INSTRUCTIONS

Materials Needed:  Empty egg cartons, dryer lint, wax, a glass container and a wax melter.  The instructions below require three 12-egg cartons and a little over 3/4 cup of wax.

Collect empty egg cartons. (These should be cardboard egg cartons.)

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Collect dryer lint.  I prefer dryer lint with little to no hair in it for these as it makes it easier to tear them apart without hair holding the little egg compartments together.  Form dryer lint into a ball and push into each egg cradle, filling each one compactly.  Tip:  Collect dryer lint year round and keep hair-free lint for fire starters and the rest of the dryer lint can be placed inside an old nylon stocking and hung outside.  Critters, primarily birds, will pull pieces of it out for nesting material.

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Collect wax.  I prefer to use candle wax because I occasionally burn candles and there is always wax left at the bottom that doesn’t get burned/used.  A small paring knife will usually get these bits out once hardened.  Or if I find stick candles on clearance I will buy those and cut them into 1″ chunks.

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Melt the wax.  I use an old Cozy-Up Warmer that I think was originally to keep warm drinks warm on your desk.  LOL  I keep an old glass candle jar around specifically for melting purposes.  In this instance I used thick candlesticks I cut up that were in a bin at a local thrift store for 10 cents each.

Pour melted wax over the dryer lint.  Doing this eloquently takes some practice.  A little goes a long way, but you still want to make sure you use enough to get the lint to kind of be stuck to the cardboard egg carton as well.  TIP:  Use a silicone oven mitt or the like.  The reason is you’re bound to get some wax on whatever you’re using to hold the jar and once the wax cools it crack right off the silicone.

The finished product looks like this after the wax hardens.

That’s it!  I’ve seen other instructions for making these that use wax, empty toilet tissue or paper towel rolls and newspaper, but I’ve never tried them.  These are just so clean to store and make the space they’re stored in smell so good from the dryer lint (and candle wax if it’s scented).  I hope you try making them if you haven’t before and I wish you many wonderful memories from them.

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