Making Fire Starters from Spare Paddle Parts

With winter settling in, it can be fun to find little projects around the house that somehow make you think of kayaking (are there projects out there that don’t make people think of kayaking?).

Our friend, Michael Morris, is an avid paddle maker. He doesn’t sell them… he just makes them, and paddles with them. With so many paddles, he has lots of wood shavings. For a few years he’s been handing them over to friends to use as kindling. They burn quickly however, and serve best as a way to re-start a fire that’s died down a little too much, rather than start it from scratch. With rain soaked wood, using commercial fire starters ($1 or more each) has become a convenient habit.

One afternoon last week we were sitting in our warm house looking outside to a cool and wet day and decided that an indoor project might be nice. We decided to make fire starters. And guess what… they work, so we thought we’d share.

Here’s what we used:

Dixie Cups

Wood Shavings

Block of Paraffin Wax



Chopping Board

Pot to Boil Water


Glass Bottle Filled with Water

Melting Pot

Here’s how to do it:

1. Stuff the Dixie cups full of wood shavings.

2. Break the block of paraffin wax by placing a screwdriver or other sharp object onto it and hitting it with a hammer (have the chopping board underneath).

Breaking up the paraffin wax.

3. Boil several inches of water in the pot.

4. Put the wax in the melting pot, and place the melting pot in the pot of boiling water. To prevent it from floating away, lay a water filled glass bottle on top.

Heating the paraffin wax.

5. Melt the wax.

6. Pour the wax carefully into the shaving filled Dixie cups until they are about half full.

Cooling fire starters.

7. Wait for several hours until they are cool.

8. Light a fire.


5 Responses to “Making Fire Starters from Spare Paddle Parts”

  • Wayne Hanley says:

    Hi Helen, I have been making the same sort of thing out of cardboard egg cartons and leftover candle wax for longer than I want to admit. Makes 12 (or multuples there of) at a time and is a kind of recycling/re-using. 🙂

  • PeterD says:

    I have done the egg carton/leftover candle wax ones before. But instead of paddle shavings, I used dryer lint.

  • Moulton Avery says:

    Cool post, Helen. That looks like a lot of fun! For backcountry use, I’ve heard good things about cotton balls impregnated with petroleum jelly. Not many places you can build a fire these days and leave no trace, however, so I just wear more clothes and use my MSR stove to distill grog…

  • With all the fallen trees around the UK at the moment, piles of shredded wood are common place. Looks like they can be put to good use. I like the ‘finished result’ complete with wine!

  • Michael H. Morris says:

    You forgot to add beer to “what we used.” Looks like you used a lot of it. Also had to empty the bottle of “Jack” before filling it with water to use as a weight.

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