Friday, 14 February 2014

How to Make Cardboard Firesticks

It's Just a Plain, Brown Cardboard Box.

In a previous post recently I mentioned what I did with my plain cardboard boxes and it brought several requests for 'how to make fire sticks'. I would never even have thought to include such details, so many thanks to those of you who asked.

My cardboard boxes get used for many things - weed suppressant, storage, compost, packaging and I'll admit that some have even had to be binned when I simply couldn't warrant another inch of space being turned over to clutter. But it's winter now and I need to both keep warm and declutter. This needy combination leads me to sourcing fire fodder from anywhere possible and it helps more if it can also provide energy for cooking.

As you can see, EVERY box that gets emptied in the Frugaldom household needs to be investigated before the cat will 'allow' me to dispose of it, so this box was no different from any other.


Tear the folds off your box and lay these aside, then split the box down its seam and begin tearing it into strips across the corrugated design. My strips are usually approximately 15cm in width.


Take each of your strips and tear them into rectangles measuring approximately 20cm in length

One piece at a time, begin rolling them up tightly, following the lines of the corrugated design going horizontally.
Once rolled, give the 'sticks a good twist to hold them firmly in shape. If long enough, a couple of twists might be managed.
You get quicker as you go, so pretty soon you'll have an entire box worth of fire sticks prepared and ready for burning.

Store your sticks somewhere dry but not too close to the stove. I just drop mine into the basket of twigs that sits by the logs. The cardboard sticks are great for rekindling a dwindling fire, starting a new one, fast burning to help take any dampness out of the logs and hot enough while burning to quickly bring a kettle of water to the boil.
Cardboard burns like tinder-dry wood, so it goes up in flames hot and fast! Never fill the stove or fireplace with it if there is any chance of a chimney fire or any major backdraft. I always close the dampers on the stove before using these and seldom, if ever, burn them on the open fire unless it's to supplement the kindling sticks before adding wood or coal. They create quite a bit of ash but can also smoulder for a very long time in the same way a book would - looking like dead embers but actually still alight. I don't use them as regular fuel, just to give an extra 'boost' when needed.
I appreciate that burning anything may not sound particularly environmentally friendly but when living in a cold house with no other form of central heating, any safe flammable material is fuel for the fire. It should also be noted that this only applies to the plain brown, unbleached cardboard boxes and not to anything glossy or plasticized,
This is not a recommendation for how to make fuel, this is simply my way of making some extra that prevents having to bin the boxes that can't be used elsewhere. I like to think of it as recycling it into useable and affordable energy. With coal costing anything from £14 per bag upwards and a small load of logs costing £40, cardboard kindling may be the only free option left for some.
NYK, Frugaldom


  1. Thanks for this. May give it a go.

    1. My reckoning is that if it's providing any free heat then it has to be worth it, especially in winter. :)

  2. I do this with my loo paper inners, I fold in half lengthwise and then push 2 into a third so i have a sort of filled cardboard tube, 2 or three of these make good fire starters

    1. Same here, Maisie, I can squeeze about 8 into 1 and they burn for quite a while, especially with a bit of wax rubbed over them from the candle ends. :)

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  4. I fold origami christmas decs! I think I may have too much spare time :) but you're right, cardboard goes up a treat! Brilliant blog, youre an inspiration x

    1. Sometimes cardboard is the quickest burning fuel available on wet days. :) The tighter it's twisted, the longer it burns. :)


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