When the main source of heat for your home is a wood burning stove, you truly understand the importance of being able to start a fire quickly. Here’s a list of natural fire starting materials which can easily be found around your home or on your property, items that you more than likely use, or ones can be found on a regular basis.
It’s been 3 winters since we’ve utilized our Timberline cast iron wood stove, also lovingly known as The Beast, to heat our home. Though our wood is seasoned, we use tinder to help start all fires; many items can be used to ignite a fire, but we’re going keep it simple and list items that can easily be found around the homestead.
I’m not the best fire starter, and in truth it took about 2 winters before I finally got the hang of it. For some reason, when you’re cold it seem to take forever before a fire finally catches! As a homesteading family our goal is to create a zero waste product, or seek items around the homestead that will do the job. Basically, we seek free material as often as possible, this includes what we use as tinder.
There’s never a shortage of pinecones in our area, which the kids are responsible for collecting and setting out to dry. Drying pinecones is quite easy, bake them for 30 minutes at 200 degrees or leave them in a basket next to your wood burning stove allowing the heat to naturally dry them. Pine needles also make an excellent tinder item and can easily be collected and dried by placing them next to the stove or fireplace.
Citrus peels also work wonderfully. The oils found in the peels help to fuel the fire, not to mention the peels smell quite good as they burn. Citrus peels should be dried prior to using them ~ dry them next to the wood burning stove or place into the oven and dry for 30 minutes at 200 degrees.
Toilet paper rolls filled with dryer lint will catch on fire immediately. We save toilet paper rolls throughout the year and fill them when we empty the lint trap of the dryer.
Nutshells are also excellent for starting fires. Okay, I’m sure many of you are chuckling at this, but this is excellent for those of you who have nut trees on the homestead. Yes, I know this isn’t for everyone, but I thought I’d throw it out there!
This next item may be difficult for a few of you to find, but for us in the Pacific Northwest there’s no shortage of moss to be found! If you’re able to harvest moss drying it is quite easy ~ begin with removing the moisture by pressing it with a towel, then lay it out in the sun to dry for roughly 1 week.
Wood kindling is made when we split our firewood each fall, generally with Cottonwood or Alder. Cattail also makes for an excellent tinder and we are lucky to be able to harvest quite a bit of it yearly.
A Few Not So Natural Tinder Items
We do burn cardboard, though not on a regular basis. The cardboard needs to be clean of tape and should not have a glossy sheen to it. Many individuals will not burn cardboard for fear of chimney fires ~ a chimney with to much creosote can catch on fire easily by the flakes of the cardboard entering the chimney and igniting the creosote.
The market and shops in our area provide brown paper bags if you have forgotten your reusable bag, which my darling husband does quite often. If the brown bags don’t get reused they also become tinder for a fire.
Let’s not forget the amount of paper brought home from school or junk mail, nothing goes to waste around here. However, we do not burn any paper product with a glossy finish or envelopes with a plastic windows. Why create chemical toxins when you don’t need to?