Posts Tagged ‘Ball Blue Book’

Homemade Fire Starters


A cornucopia of fire starters!

I came home to a cold, cold house yesterday. I had a good fire the day before. I’d kept it going all day. I was proud! I never let it go out. I was tending a fire instead of constantly re-starting one. I need to practice banking the fire so it doesn’t go out when I’m gone for hours. I took the kids to the city for dentist appointments and was gone for four hours. The coals were still hot when I left, but I was in such a rush, I didn’t bank it properly. That won’t feel so good when it’s zero degrees, will it? (Next project: proper banking! And not being in such a hurry…)

Starting fires has been a big project up to now. All the kindling! And the paper! Starting and re-starting. While I’ve gotten good at keeping a fire going once it’s started, the starting has remained an issue. I took all your advice to heart and decided to hold an experiment in homemade fire starters yesterday.

I have plenty of egg cartons. (For now.)
And a good many of them are cardboard cartons. I saved and saved and saved egg cartons last year. You know, for my abundance of eggs! From my 40 chickens! I needed to have plenty of egg cartons ready to give eggs to Georgia and who knows who else. Anyone I could pawn them off on because you know I was going to have TONS of eggs.

Lazy, good-for-nothing….
….beautiful chickens. I’ll be lucky if I see another egg before spring.

I also have a great big bag of pine cones. Georgia has huge pines all around her house. I have an unlimited supply of pine cones.

And I always have wax. Free or nearly free wax, from recycling candles.
You can also get free wax by letting friends and family know you want wax. You’d be surprised by how many people have candles sitting around that they have no intention of using and they’re happy to hand them over for a useful purpose. You can also buy cheap cheap cheap votive sets–cheaper than you could buy the wax, dye, and scent separately. If worse comes to worst, you can actually buy wax or paraffin for your fire starters. But check around first for frugal alternatives.

Votives are really easy to re-purpose. Just peel the label off the bottom then pull the metal tab and wick out.
(Save the wicks and tabs! You may have a candle project for them later.)

Place the votives in your melting pot.
Melt wax safely. Read here for more detailed instructions on melting wax. You can see see all my posts about candle-making here.

I decided to make a few different types of fire starters based on the suggestions in the comments on this post so I could discover what I liked best and what worked for me. The fire starter ideas I tried were:

1) dryer lint and wax in cardboard egg carton cups
2) dryer lint and wax in toilet paper/paper towel tubes
3) pine cones with wax

I think you could also put dryer lint on pine cones then drizzle them with wax, too, but I was low on dryer lint. (A project for the coming year is going to be to collect dryer lint–all year!) I just had the dryer lint from the dryer right now.

I put dryer lint in four of the cups of a cardboard egg carton.

Then poured a small amount of melted wax over the cups.
I didn’t use much wax because I wanted to, in the next step of my fire starter testing, place the pine cones on top of the cardboard cups while I poured wax over the pine cones. That way, the excess wax would go into the cardboard cups. I put strips of orange peel on the pine cones and poured the wax over the cones as they sat above the cardboard cups.
The wax attached the strips of orange peel to the cones. I wanted the extra fun of the orange scent directly on the cones.

Next, I toyed with a toilet paper tube. I couldn’t quite figure out how this was going to work. I didn’t want the wax to pour right through the lint to the bottom of the tube and out, so I did a sort of sloppy rendition of how I make bottoms in toilet paper tubes when I make biodegradable seed starter pots. (And if you aren’t saving toilet paper and paper towel tubes right now for fire starters, you should be saving them for seed starter pots! The time to be saving them for spring is now!)
I stuffed my meager supply of lint into the tube.
Then poured wax in there. The wax still went out the bottom so I finished pouring it over the cardboard egg carton cups.
I have a lot of dried apple slices and peels in the freezer so I decided to stick a dried apple peel on top of each cup and adhere it with wax.
This was a last-minute idea. If I was going to make these for gifts, I’d probably stick a couple of apple slices/peels into the wax in a more creative way. I think it’s a neat idea to add some scent, especially for gift-giving. I’m pretty loose with my fruit peels because I saved so many this summer. (Save your fruit peelings and cores! So many uses….)

The pine cones with orange peels would also make great gifts for anyone with a wood stove. Throw in extra orange peels and old cinnamon sticks for more scent and just to be pretty.
And now! Time for the rubber to hit the road. I was ready to make fire.

I collected kindling. I made a teenager haul wood up to the house. (Yes, I’m learning!) I fought off Boomer while he tried to run off with my kindling. I stacked kindling and light wood. I balled up newspaper. I tucked fire starters in amongst the kindling and the newspaper. My test wood stove was prepared for ignition! (I probably used more fire starters than necessary, but I was testing them all out. More power!)
I’ve never started a fire so easily before. It started up like magic. The fire starters kept going long enough for the fire to really take hold in the kindling, and then the wood. Unlike every other time I’ve started a fire, I didn’t have to keep balling up newspaper and lighting it over and over.
And it didn’t go out. The fire took hold and it didn’t stop.

I want to say this for the girls out there–you know who you are, girls like me who “can’t” start fires. Make fire starters. We know the tricks men use to start fires. (Don’t need to explain. You all know what I’m talking about!) That’s too scary for us. We don’t like that. Girls, make some fire starters! They’re pretty and they smell good and they aren’t scary.

Oh–and which type of fire starters did I like best? For absolute ease, nothing beats the cardboard egg carton cups of dryer lint and wax. However, for me, I will most likely make more of the pine cones with wax because I have an unlimited supply of pine cones and a limited supply of cardboard egg cartons. (Though I will start asking people to give me their old cardboard egg cartons and keep up what supply I can.) Since I can acquire dryer lint on a regular basis, I’ll probably try drizzling wax over dryer lint on the pine cones. I liked least the toilet paper/paper towel tubes. They were just more difficult to work with. All three methods worked great, though, when it came to making flames.
I have fire!

Ball Blue BookIt’s a Ball Blue Book Project day! Today’s Ball Blue Book is sponsored by David Bruce and Canning2 at Yahoo Groups. Visit them here!

To win: Leave a comment on this post and let me know you want it. One winner will be drawn by random comment number to receive a Ball Blue Book. Eligible entry cut-off is midnight Eastern (U.S.) time tonight. This post will be updated with the winner no later than 9 AM Eastern (U.S.) time tomorrow. Return to this post to see if you won.

Find out more about the Ball Blue Book Project and become a sponsor.

12/6 WINNER update: Comment #79, Victoria. Please email me with your full name and address for shipping! THIS CONTEST IS CLOSED.

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I got the fire started in the wood stove yesterday all by myself! TAKE THAT, Wood Stove. I even overcame the challenge of losing the long lighter. I had to use a short little lighter. I don’t like using the short little lighter. I’m afraid of it.
Me: “I’m scared of fire.”

52: “That’s handy.”

Ha. I did it. And I kept it going for about two hours.
Then it died.
I added logs. I added paper. It kept dying. I emailed 52. “The fire keeps dying! The fire keeps dying!”

52: “Use more kindling.”

Me: “But I’m out of kindling!”

52: “You have 40 acres of kindling.”

What happened to kindling appearing magically on the porch? This picking it up thing sounds like a lot of work…..
I called my staff together.
They were as useful as usual.
What am I going to do with this stuff anyway?
It’s WET!!!
And I got DIRTY!!!
But I battled again with Wood Stove and her fickle fire. I found the most dry of the kindling. I used more paper. I added more wood. I got the fire going and kept it going.
In between times when it went out. I struggled with it all day.
If practice makes perfect, I’ve been practicing. And I have no time to waste on my way to perfect. Winter’s coming back and this time she’s not going to sneak in on tiptoes from the back.
This time she’s bringing a battering ram!! I need fire!
I want to hear ALL your homemade firestarter ideas!!! Please? I’m gonna need ’em…..

Ball Blue BookIt’s a Ball Blue Book Project day! Today’s Ball Blue Book is sponsored by RacerX Illustrated. Visit them here!

To win: Leave a comment on this post and let me know you want it. One winner will be drawn by random comment number to receive a Ball Blue Book. Eligible entry cut-off is midnight Eastern (U.S.) time tonight. This post will be updated with the winner no later than 9 AM Eastern (U.S.) time tomorrow. Return to this post to see if you won.

Find out more about the Ball Blue Book Project and become a sponsor.

P.S. Thank you to all the sponsors for the tremendous response to this project! The response has been so tremendous, in fact, that some weeks I will be holding more than one BBB Project day. Keep watching!

***Update 12/3–the WINNER is Jo, comment #68!

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The Ball Blue Book Project


Ball Blue BookI can’t stand to give away just one Ball Blue Book. Since the first day of the contest, I have been dreading the drawing because I want to give one to EVERYONE. I’ve never held a contest for anything before that has generated so much enthusiasm.

I love canning. It’s self-sustaining, wholesome, practical, and just plain fun. I learned to can at the feet of Georgia a few years ago when I lived in the slanted little house after I moved to the country. As this site grew into Chickens in the Road, I’ve enjoyed sharing my newfound love of canning with readers. I especially love to see new canners. To can is more than just to put away a jar of food. It’s a connection to the past and a hope for the future. It bring families and friends together, creates new memories and brings out old ones, and is one of the easiest ways anyone, living anywhere, can practice self-sustainable, green, and simple living. Canning changes perspectives and changes lives.

As I thought about this drawing over the past few days, and how much I didn’t want to give away just one book, I was struck by an idea that quickly turned into the Ball Blue Book Project. (I set up a page here with much the same information as in this post, as a permanent resource for information on the project, with a link in my sidebar.)

The idea behind the Ball Blue Book Project is to get more canning guides into more hands to promote healthy, safe canning–and the good food and fun that goes with it. I want to give away a Ball Blue Book every week. I can’t do this alone, though. In an “if you build it, they will come” moment, before I could even go live with this project, I had the first three weeks’ worth of sponsors lined up. I will be giving away a Ball Blue Book once a week, in one-day-only-entry posts (to spare you entering three days in a row!). These will be random giveaways, every week. I will continue to post my regular daily posts–look for the Ball Blue Book Project giveaway as an addendum at the bottom of one of my regular posts on randomly chosen days each week.

If you are interested in sponsorship: For $10, sponsor a 100th anniversary edition of the Ball Blue Book, the classic American guide to preserving food. Click here to email me for information on sponsorship and to give me your information and links. Promote a website, blog, book, product, or service! Your information and links will be posted in the Ball Blue Book post you sponsor. Sponsors (and their links) will also be listed permanently on the honor roll here. Ordering and shipping books to winners will be handled by me, no work for you! The $10 sponsorship fee covers the cost of the book and shipping. No profit will be collected by me for the Ball Blue Book Project giveaways.

*If you don’t have anything to promote but just want to encourage safe, healthy canning, you can still sponsor a Ball Blue Book. (You can even sponsor anonymously if you choose.)

Any week in which there is no sponsor, I will provide the book myself.

Instructions available on this site:
How to Can: Hot Water Bath Method
How to Can: Pressure Method
Pictured: Apples, raisins, and dried cherries in syrup.

Also read: The Joy of Canning.

And see: All my home-canning recipes and ideas.

You can also talk about canning with other canning enthusiasts and ask your canning questions in the canning section of the Chickens in the Road forums.

And now for the winner (of only the FIRST!) 100th anniversary edition of the Ball Blue Book of Preserving! “Jackie in FL” who is comment #79 on the Winter Comes Calling post. (This was scientifically calculated by asking Morgan to choose a number out of the total number of comments for each of the three posts then calling my cousin Aaron and asking him to choose one from the three numbers. Neither Aaron nor Morgan looked at the comments. They just chose numbers.) Email me to send me your full name and address for shipping!

There will be more Ball Blue Books. Watch for the random one-day-only Ball Blue Book Project giveaway sometime this week! And the week after that, and the week after that, and the week after that….

I want you ALL to have a Ball Blue Book!

P.S. I want to also note here the amazing results of giving. This all started with the wonderfully sweet reader who offered ten Chickens in the Road 2010 calendars. Her gift inspired me–and inspired other readers–in a domino effect, a chain of giving that will go on and on, not only in the Ball Blue Book itself but in all the food and sharing and love that comes along with canning. Many of you someday somewhere will give someone a lovely jar of something you put up from your garden from a recipe in the Ball Blue Book, or make memories as you teach your child to can, or share memories and strengthen bonds with a grandmother who used to can, and it will all go back to that first lovely reader who thought to give and offered me the opportunity to be the conduit for her gift. I’m thrilled to be part of something so generous during this holiday season, and beyond. Thank you all! The best readers anywhere are right here.

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The Slanted Little House

"It was a cold wintry day when I brought my children to live in rural West Virginia. The farmhouse was one hundred years old, there was already snow on the ground, and the heat was sparse-—as was the insulation. The floors weren’t even, either. My then-twelve-year-old son walked in the door and said, “You’ve brought us to this slanted little house to die." Keep reading our story....

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