Since one person’s trash is another person’s treasure, what kind of treasures can we make from the massive stream of holiday trash that our households produce each season? Here’s how you can make a wax and cardboard “stove” in a can, wrapping paper fire starters, and ribbon trail markers to take on your next outdoor adventure.
1. Build a Wax and Cardboard Stove
This simple gizmo is made from any cast-off flat can (like a tuna can or a round Altoids tin). You’ll also need some thin strips of cardboard cut as wide as the can is tall (any length will work). And finally, you’ll require some candle wax, new or old. This wax component is a great way to use up candle drippings or old holiday candle nubs.
To make the stove, coil up your cardboard strips inside the can until it’s full of cardboard. Melt your wax over a medium heat, preferably in a disposable container like another tin can. Pour the melted wax into the cardboard stove until the cardboard is almost covered. Now let the cardboard stove cool until the wax is hardened (unless you need it right away). Your cardboard stove will need a steady open flame to light, and it will take about one minute to get part of the can lit. However, once it’s finally lit, the can produces a lot of heat and is hard to put out.
2. Make Wrapping Paper Fire Starters
Paper products and wax can again come to our aid, this time as a fire starter rather than a fire source. Select your least slick wrapping paper for this project. The more absorptive the paper, the better it will work. Cut it into strips and roll the paper into small tight rolls. Tie the rolls shut with bits of cotton string or twine. Then soak the rolls in melted wax for a few minutes. Remove the rolls from the wax and allow them to harden. Once solid, these little rolls can be lit with an open flame and used as a bad weather fire starter. Just prepare your kindling and tinder as a cone with the fire starter at the base, and light when ready.
3. Create Ribbon Trail Markers
If you have colorful ribbon strips destined for the garbage can, roll it up and tuck it into your survival kit instead. These ribbons can be a cut into sections for trail blazes or signal flags in the wilderness. Add a small permanent marker to this “signaling kit” and you can even leave notes or write messages on the ribbon.