DIY Herbal Fire Starters

The girls and I had such a blast perfecting these! So, here’s the deal. I told you last week about my favorite herbs to grow and my guest post on Modern Alternative Mama was all about how we created our awesome raised bed herb garden. Did you look at those pictures?! That’s a whole lot of herbs to use! Even when I do find some wonderful uses for my herbs, like my herbal bath salts, there’s still all of those dried stems that were going to waste. No longer!

Here’s the perks of making my herbal fire starters:

  1. Waste not, want not, right?? These are very frugal and they leave you with a “look at this totally cool thing I made” feeling!
  2. There’s no petroleum jelly or wax or other funky chemicals that you really shouldn’t be breathing.
  3. Herbal smoke purifies the air if you’re inside– during times of plagues, people used to burn rosemary all the time!
  4.  It keeps the mosquitoes away if you’re outside! Not a bite on us, in spite of a very healthy mosquito population, this year!
  5. The smoke smells AMAZING! I’m one of those people who gets around any kind of smoke and gets an instant headache. That didn’t happen and I actually enjoyed the smell!

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • A bunch of dried herb stems that you save when you remove the leaves (fun non-food ideas for the leaves coming next week!)
  • Cotton balls (organic would be best, but it’s not necessary)
  • Kitchen twine (of a natural material– please don’t use the silicone or something like that!!)
  • A little coconut oil (again, organic is best)

Here’s what to do:

  1. Break the stems into pieces about 6 inches long. You can keep like with like or mix different kinds together. Here I have rosemary and chocolate mint.
  2. Cut a foot and a half of kitchen twine and lay a small handful of the stems in the center of the twine.
  3. Unroll a cotton ball and smear about a tablespoon of coconut oil on it.
  4. Place the cotton ball on top of the stems and add another small handful of stems on top.
  5. Wind the kitchen twine around the stems and tie it tightly.

That’s it! Keep them in a ziploc and take them on your next camping trip or use them to start your fireplace or wood burning stove in the winter!

To use:

  1. Place the herb bundle at an angle (prop it on a few small sticks, if you don’t have a grate) and then build a small “teepee” of small dry sticks over it.
  2. Light the BOTTOM of the bundle (fire works it’s way up, not down) and slowly add larger and larger sticks to the fire.
  3. Carefully add some small logs, adding larger ones depending on the size of the fire you want.

As you can see, I only had one small log in there. I needed to get the girls in bed, so I didn’t want to get a huge fire going, but I had plenty of heat, flames and embers to do it!

This was really a great project to do with our four-year-old and we’ll be making a ton of these to take on our next camping trip! 🙂

Have you been tossing dried herb stems? Do you have other fun uses for them?

9 thoughts on “DIY Herbal Fire Starters

  1. Nicole says:

    Great idea!! What if you were to use dryer lint instead of cotton balls? Do you think that would work as well? Although, smearing coconut oil on lint may be challenging, but it would be even more frugal. Ooo, just had another frugal idea, what about the cotton that comes from vitamin bottles? And, I was just wondering how I could use them! Thanks for the descriptive post!!

    • Thanks for the comment, Nicole! I love the idea of using the cotton from pill bottles! Brilliant! I think that using dryer lint *could* work… maybe if you put it directly on the stems, then melted the coconut oil and poured it on. I’m pretty sure that would do it, but be sure only to use lint from loads that were all-natural fibers. We don’t want to breathe the fumes from burning synthetics. Great ideas! 🙂

    • The more wood-like stems work best (rosemary, lavender, sage, thyme, oregano, etc.). Unless you have an allergy/sensitivity to a particular herb, there isn’t any reason to avoid anything… although, since I’m breastfeeding, I won’t be using sage. Consuming large amounts of sage can decrease the milk supply and I don’t know whether or not the smoke might do it, too. 🙂
      As far as other plants, I’m guessing you mean bushes and such. This would be just like collecting kindling for a fire, so you could easily gather small dry twigs to use along with, or in place of, the herb stems.

    • Without the cotton and oil the herbs didn’t burn as long and hot as I needed them to in order for the logs to really get a good fire going. That was in Ohio where the humidity level is very high in the summer. Here in the Black Hills in South Dakota, it’s so very dry that I don’t think anything is necessary other than the herbs. 🙂

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