As the winter solstice approaches, we wanted to offer you a little something to bring some extra joy and warmth to these busy December days! On our 7th day of cheer, we have the perfect project for your Solstice celebration of light and warmth - fire starters!
by Julie Letowski in Issue 25::HEARTH
2 cups beeswax pellets or shredded beeswax, from a virgin block or candle ends
Paper muffin liners
1 quart foraged plant material, such as a combination of lichen, winterberry, pine, and cedar
Medium glass, ceramic, or metal bowl (see note)
Thick dish towel
NOTE: Though possible, it can be pesky to clean beeswax from tools and vessels. In my house I’ve designated a cheese grater and a small secondhand pot (instead of the bowl) for wax projects. Whatever you choose to melt beeswax in, make sure it’s something that isn’t terribly important to you, in case some waxy residue remains.
Put the beeswax in to a medium glass, ceramic, or metal bowl, ideally dedicated to this use. Fill a small pot with 2 inches of water and place on the stove over medium-high heat. Rest the bowl of beeswax on the pot of water to create a double boiler. Occasionally swirl the wax in the bowl in which it is melting, using a thick dish towel to lift the bowl.
While keeping an eye on your melting beeswax, fill the muffin tin with paper liners. Begin arranging and layering your foraged plant materials in the liners, pressing down as you add, until the muffin cups are three-quarters full.
When the beeswax has completely melted, lift the bowl using a thick towel. With a firm grip, slowly pour the melted beeswax from the bowl into the liners, evenly distributing the wax among the cups and filling them about halfway up. (As you pour, make sure to slowly drizzle the wax back and forth to allow it to work its way through the layers of plant material, ensuring your bits of nature will be well trapped when the beeswax cools.)
Once the wax has hardened, your fire starters are complete.
To use your fire starters, place one or more in your wood stove, fireplace, or fire pit surrounded by kindling. Using a long match or lighter, light the exposed plant material on fire. (The beeswax will slow the burn of the plant material, allowing the fire time to fully take hold of your kindling.) Add more robust logs as desired. Now sit back and enjoy the cracking warmth of an easy fire.