book collections email follower instructable user
Picture of Dryer Lint Fire Starter Twigs

Every year, thousands of house fires are caused by dryer lint. The lint accumulates over time along the inner walls of the dryer’s exhaust system and if not properly maintained, that surplus of lint has the potential to ignite and cause a fire.

To increase the priority of this simple task on your household maintenance schedule, I thought we could take advantage of the combustable properties of lint and use them to start responsible camp fires! These fire starters are not only shaped like twigs, but they are also waterproof, float, and burn long enough to dry out damp kindling. This is a sister project to my portable WOOD STOVE ! Let’s make some dryer lint fire starter twigs!

*This project was inspired by At29035ft's Waterproof Dryer Lint Fire-Starter 'ible from 2010

Step 1: Tools and Materials

Picture of Tools and Materials

There isn’t much you’ll need for this simple project and you might even have the majority or all these items already on hand. (i.e. These are basically free to make ! )

- Dryer Lint

- Bamboo Skewers

- Tea Light Candles

- Tin/Aluminum Foil

- A method for melting the wax (I used an electric heater designed for this purpose, but a double boiler works just as well )

- Scissors (*not pictured )

lschwartz6 months ago
We recently cleaned our dryer and had the vent cleaned because clothes were coming out of the dryer with brown spots as though scorched. I recognized the spot pattern as that of the vent holes on the back of the dryer drum. They were clogged with lint and were a precursor to a fire. Although the lint screen was catching a lot of lint, we discovered that it was not going all the way down into its slot because dryer sheets were caught under it. The lint that escaped clogged the drum holes and the dryer vent pipes. I was going to use a drywall screw to grab the lint in each hole, but the good old shop vac did the job. The dryer vent runs 38 feet with five 90 degree bends, each of which was its own lint trap and it start with a flex tube (which many of the cleaner kits say "don't use with".. We had a professional clean the vent and got much greater air flow out of the outlet flap. I thought of using one of the kits from HomeLowes (our favorite hardware word) but they can only reach 12 feet at most. Rather than buying three or four, and a vacuum cleaner or shop vac attachment, I went the professional route. It was worth the money. The amount of lint that came out was surprisingly large, especially because we had a professional clean the vent two years ago. So, be diligent and do preventive maintenance. Avoid any chance of a fire!
Ham-made (author)  lschwartz6 months ago
Hey Ischwartz!
That sounds like quite the ordeal! But you're absolutely right, being diligent and doing preventative maintenance is essential for avoiding any chance of a fire! I also appreciate that you took the time to share your experience with the community, I hope it will benefit others as well!
Mr. Ham
I did basically the same thing but instead of bamboo skewers, I used wooden matches. And instead of dryer lint, I took sewing cotton and generously wrapped about 2/3 of the match. Then with a tea cup candle directly on the eye of my stove, with the temp set to low as possible, I dipped the sewing cotton wrapped matches directly into the hot wax, placed them on aluminum foil, cooled some, and smoothed over the rough edges. When ready to use simply chip off the wax on the match head and light like a normal match. Strike anywhere matches work much better. Essentially, now you have waterproof/weatherproof matches that burn much much much longer than a typical match. Glad to see someone else is doing things like this, it may save your life OR someone else's life one day. Thank you.
Ham-made (author)  wolfreaperx2226 months ago
Hey wolfreaperx222,
Great idea about using the strike anywhere matches as the core for these types of fire starters! The only thing I found annoying about my version is that they need an external ignition source.
Mr. Ham
Lorax986 months ago
These are great! I teach my outdoor education students how to make them and how to use them as part of their survival kit preparations.
There is one general tip: when you want to collect lint from your dryer, sort your clothing into "natural" and "synthetic" fibers. The cottons and linens make excellent fire starters, but the synthetic fibers do not.
Natural fibers burn easily, but the synthetic fibers melt into a black goo and often will not burn. Although polar fleece seems fluffy and provides a large quantity of lint, when heated it melts as it is made of recycled beverage bottles (plastic).
I also caution against wool lint. It burns fine, but has a distinctive "burnt-hair" smell that is unpleasant to many people. Blue jeans, cotton towels, and cotton tees work the best.
If you have access to sawdust, it also works very well when mixed with parafin wax.
Ham-made (author)  Lorax986 months ago
Hey Lorax98!
Thanks for the excellent comment! I should have mentioned that I collected the lint from cotton towel loads. Great tip about the wool lint, something I had never really thought about! I also have no shortage of sawdust for when I run out of lint!
Mr. Ham
Or a household of cats. Cat hair lint doesn't smell good either. Oops.