How to Re-purpose an Egg Carton Into a Fire Starter
You can easily turn an old egg carton into an effective, lightweight and portable fire starter in a few easy steps. This is a great way to recycle something that would otherwise go to waste, and you don’t need a lot of material or tools to get the job done. Take a look at the process below and see how this simple idea can turn out to be a valuable resource to have at your disposal out in the field.
It’s important to note that this project only works on fibrous egg cartons and not Styrofoam. The first step is to rinse the cartons if necessary and then cut them into small pieces that are around an inch or so in size. They don’t need to be perfect or evenly-sized, but you want them to be cut small enough to be processed efficiently. Large chunks or pieces of material may take longer to break down and be converted during the following steps.
Once you’ve cut the cartons into small pieces, place them in a large pot or bowl and soak them in water. Make sure that there’s at least three times as much water as there is material, because the material will absorb a lot of water as it soaks. Let it soak for at least 8 hours, preferably overnight.
Processing the Cartons
The pieces of carton should almost fall apart in your hand when you handle them the next day. If they are still rigid and difficult to break up, let them soak for another half-day or so. Once the material has thoroughly softened, remove it from the water and place in a blender. You can also use a mixing attachment and drill to process the material. Blend or mix the material until the pieces merge into one goopy mess that can be broken up with your hand.
The next step is to take a handful of material and squeeze it tightly in the palm of your hand. Squeeze as hard as you can in order to strain as much water as possible from the material. This will help the material to bind, make it easier for you to form them into individual pieces and speed up the drying process later. There is no right or wrong answer in terms of how big to make the pieces, and you can experiment with different sizes in order to find the best solution for your needs.
All you need to do now is let the material dry before storing for future use. Under normal circumstances, you can place them out in the sun or in a sunny location and they should dry within a couple of days. Of course, the drying time will vary depending on how much water remains inside, how thick the pieces are and the intensity of the sunlight. You can speed up the process by drying the pieces on a baking sheet in the oven that is set to its lowest possible temperature. Prop the oven door open with a toothpick to try and keep temperatures below 180 degrees, and let the pieces bake for a few hours.
Store the items in a bag or container that will keep them dry until needed. While these fire starters should be easy to light and provide a minute or two of burn time, you can extend it by coating them with petroleum jelly or soaking them in alcohol or fuel prior to use as well.
Try this out for yourself, and see how this simple technique can give you access to a reliable way to start fires that are otherwise hard to ignite.