fire starters in muffin tin

Homemade Fire Starters

The quest for fire began in the time of the caveman. My quest for fire began in my first year of beekeeping. In Boy Scouts, you learn how to make a fire with two items or something like that. Unfortunately, I didn’t go to Boy Scouts; consequently, I am lousy at starting fires. Well, I may be ok at starting them, but I can’t seem to make fires that last a long time. It always amazed me how my beekeeping mentor Dale could get a fire started that could last all day inside a few minutes and I, on the other hand, fuss way too much over getting everything in just the right order for making long-lasting smoke. This led me to explore making my own fire starters, which turned out to be both cost-effective and convenient.


Why do beekeepers use smoke?

Smoke is an essential tool for beekeepers when working with their hives. When smoke is introduced, the bees become less aggressive and more docile. This is because the smoke triggers a survival response in the bees that causes them to focus on preparing to flee rather than defending the hive. In addition, the smoke masks the scent of any pheromones released by the guard bees, which signals alarm to the rest of the hive. Overall, the use of smoke makes the job of the beekeeper easier and safer.

I have to admit I still struggle with this today.

When we were researching beeswax uses, I learned about these beautiful pine cone DIY fire starters. These homemade fire starters were positioned as holiday gifts, complete with colored wax and sparkles. Here, I am suggesting a far more utilitarian use for these cute little pine cones and that is as homemade fire starters for your favorite beekeeper to use in his/her smoker.

Additionally, you can explore various DIY fire starter ideas using materials like egg cartons, sawdust, shredded paper, dried orange peel, and pinecones. Dryer lint is also an excellent alternative material for making homemade fire starters, either by itself or combined with other materials.

The best place to start in making homemade fire-starters is by gathering your supplies, including melted wax; here's a list:

  • Pine Cones

  • Beeswax or cooking oil

  • Old burlap bag

  • Candlewick material or natural fiber twine

  • Candle wicks

  • Cotton ball

  • Egg carton

  • Hot wax

  • Melted wax

  • Waxed paper

  • Old muffin tin

  • Brown paper (to protect whatever surface you are working on)

  • Double boiler

With all the supplies you need gathered, it’s time to get started on making these wonderfully useful fire starters. First, melt beeswax in a double boiler, being careful not to overheat (anything over 195 degrees is risky). Now, take an old muffin tin and line it with burlap- imagine it just like with paper muffin liners. To make dipping easy, tie a jute string around each pinecone. Dip each pinecone in wax and ensure complete coverage. Pop the wax-coated pinecones into the burlap-lined tin and leave the jute string as it can come handy as a future wick.

This project took us about 30-45 minutes to complete, and we had fun.

One popular method for making fire starters is to use pine cones dipped in wax. Another effective method is to use cotton balls soaked in petroleum jelly as a highly flammable fire starter.

You can also create fire starters by filling egg cartons with dryer lint and pouring melted wax over them. This method is inexpensive and allows you to make individual fire starters for starting a fire.


Make Homemade Fire Starters with cotton balls for your favorite beekeeper

When it comes to making pinecone fire starters, the possibilities are endless. They can be used in outdoor fire pits and wood burning fireplaces, ensuring their versatility and safety. You might find the perfect technique that suits your preferences and makes the process even more enjoyable. And the result? Absolutely amazing! Whether you’re using them in your fire pit or gifting them to your favorite beekeeper, these fire starters put the chemical fluids and dry grass to shame. Plus, making them is a fun and rewarding craft that will bring the community of DIYers together. So don’t shy away from experimentation, get creative, and see where your journey takes you!

We had a lot of fun doing this, and cleanup was a breeze. Beeswax is easy to remove by putting the muffin tin in the freezer! If you have any tips or additions that you’d like to add to this project, please feel free to share them in the comments.

Kara holding a hive frame in doorway of cabin

About the Author

Kara waxes about the bees, creates and tests recipes with her friend Joyce, and does her best to share what she’s learning about the bees, honey, ingredients we use and more. Read more about Kara