Sitting beside a fire is one of my favorite pastimes. The full sensory experience offers so many aspects of comfort: the sensation of being warm and cozy, the abstract performance of the flames dancing, the crackling sound of the wood changing form, the taste of herbal tea or a craft libation I’m likely sipping on, and of course the aroma! Each of these elements brings me closer to a place of peace and contentment.
One enjoyable element that I began incorporating in my summer campfires was the burning of herbs and resins to enliven the smell of the fire. I was pleasantly surprised at how much of a distinct aroma I was able to create. I thought about bringing this practice into my home fireplace, but I was performing this action in a way that was a bit cruder than would be wise indoors (though throwing herbal powders into the flames definitely made me feel like a fairy, as it combusts in the air in what looks like fairy-dust).
A few months later, I learned from a friend who is a bit of an “outdoor enthusiast” that if you create little beeswax starters, it helps to kindle a fire. The ones that he made were crafted with beeswax and sawdust/small woodchips. I had an ah-ha moment of realizing that I could substitute the wood elements for those lovely, scented herbs I was throwing on my campfires.
These little fire starter bundles are really fun to make and also offered a productive way for me to use up some older herbs and spices in my pantry. And best of all, I can now bring my newly discovered love of creating herbal smokes into my home without the mess.
How to Make Natural Fire Starters
Possible herbs, spices and resins:
Other supplies and ingredients:
- Cupcake Papers
- Beeswax (2 cups of beeswax pastilles or about 230 grams will make about 12 fire starters)
- Candle wick or string—12 pieces cut to about 4 inches
- Parchment paper
- Begin heating beeswax in a double boiler.
- Place cupcake papers in a cupcake pan.
- Fill cupcake liners 1/4 to 1/2 full with herb mixture of choice. (You’ll want to reserve your more beautiful herbs for the topping, so I like to use evergreens, herbal powders, resins and orange peel in the bottom of the liners).
- Once beeswax is melted, dip your wicks to lightly coat with wax and set aside on parchment paper.
- Begin pouring rest of melted wax over the herbs in the cupcake liners until it just covers the material (about 2-3 tablespoons each).
- Using a cinnamon stick or chop stick, push a wick down to the bottom of each cupcake paper OR create a U-shape with the wick and stuff both ends all the way down. You can then snip after drying to create a double-wick for faster burning.
- Add your more decorative ingredients on the top and allow to fully cool.
- Snip your wicks to about 1 inch.
- Pouring three fire starters at a time makes it easy to check on them as they begin to dry. Sometimes the wicks need rebalancing.
- If your mixture dries before you can add your toppings, you can pop the cupcake pan in the oven on the lowest settling to melt the wax.
- Cleaning a beeswax mess is always a common question! The best way is to melt the wax on your utensils or cupcake pan and then wipe away with a disposable rag or paper towel. Then you can wash it with soap and hot water.
- You can fill the cupcake papers all the way if you’d like, but they take much longer to burn and if you’re looking to get your fire going faster, I recommend only filling to the 1/4 or 1/2 mark.
Looking for other herbal crafts for the home?