Kindling a fire used to be done with newspaper. After all, everyone has tons of old newspapers lying around, right? Not anymore! I don’t, anyway. We stopped taking a daily paper a while ago. You know what we have tons of? Amazon Prime boxes!
I once read an extension service report from … somewhere … that claimed that using strips of cardboard was the key to easy fire starting, and it’s true!
I used to use a lot of newspaper and just a little cardboard, but as my house became more and more of a paper-free zone, I stopped hunting around for suitable scraps of newsprint and went to 100% cardboard.
Building a Fire Without Newspaper
The task is very simple:
- You’re going to make the fire the way you always do, but with cardboard instead of paper.
- Take an old shipping box (for example, an Amazon Prime box) and rip it into small pieces: say, a couple of inches wide and as long as you like. I just use my bare hands. Ripping the pieces by hand leaves some feathery edges that are easier to light.
- Pile in these strips as if they were kindling.
- Add some kindling, too, unless the wood is very dry.
- You can use some paper, too, if you want to. I’m doing this less and less.
- Light the cardboard with a match. While the cardboard lights more slowly than paper, I’ve been using book matches with good results. Wooden kitchen matches would work even better.
So far, the supply of smallish Amazon Prime boxes coming into my house has been more than sufficient for my fire-starting needs.
Used egg cartons that are too broken-down or stained to recycle also make good fire starter.