It has been a while since I've posted anything new, but I've been busy with other things. With winter arriving I've been going through my gear and making the seasonal swaps and making sure all my winter gear is in tip top shape.

I've also been thinking about cheap fire starting and cooking tools. To that end here are some cheap ideas:


Dryer Lint
Lint from your dryer makes great tinder. Instead of throwing it in the trash put it in a zip lock bag, or 35 mm film canister, to keep it dry.

Char cloth from old jeans or T-shirts (100% cotton only, linen will work as well)
(1) Take a metal tin with lid, punch two small holes in the tin - one on the top and one onthe bottom.
(2) Burn off any paint on the tin.
(3) Get an old 100% cotton T-shirt or pair of jeans
(4) Cut the cloth into 2 inch squares
(5) Put the cloth neatly into the tin and close the tin tightly
(6) Put the tin on the embers of a fire
(7) When black smokes ceases to come out of the top hole wait for about 30 seconds and flip over
(8) Once black smoke cease to come out of the now top hole wait about 30 seconds
(9) Remove tin from fire and allow it to cool.
(10) Remove the char cloth from the tin and put in a sealed container

Char cloth should be black and not sooty. If it crumbles you heated it too long. If it is brown and not black you did not heat it long enough.

Cotton balls and petroleum jelly
(1) Get petroleum jelly and cotton balls from the dollar store
(2) Coat cotton balls in a light layer of petroleum jelly
(3) Work petroleum jelly into cotton ball
(4) Put the cotton ball in a sealed container (35 mm film canisters work great)

I keep mine in and old metal cigarette tin. It is packed in fairly tightly with wax poured over top and electrical tape wrapped around the tin seal.

Paper rolls, wood shavings and wax
(1) Save up old toilet paper and paper towel rolls
(2) Get a block of parafin (candle wax) or old candles, bag of wood shavings, roll of masking tape, small hobby saw
(3) Tape off one end of the paper roll
(4) Pack the toilet paper roll 1/2 way or the paper towel roll 1/4 way with wood shavings. do not pack too loose or too tight.
(5) Heat parafin or canlde, pour into paper roll to just cover wood shavings, you may have to pour it more than once as it cools.
(6) Repeat packing and pouring until roll is full.
(7) Mark off 1 inch, 1.5 inch or 2 inch on the paper roll.
(8) Use the hobby saw to cut along the marks you made.
(9) Put in a zip lock bag or sealed container.

Cat food or tuna cans, cardboard and wax
(1) Take an old cat food or tuna can and clean it out.
(2) Take some corrugated cardboard and cut into strips small enough to fit into the can (waffle side up).
(3) Put cardboard into the can in a spiral, fitting as much in as you can.
(4) Pour wax over the cardboard and fill to the top of the can, you may have to pour wax a couple of times.
(5) Put in zip lock bag or sealed container.

This can be used to heat food, heat a tent (use something underneath it), boil water, etc as well. You can make a Hobo Stove from a larger can to use with


Traditional Hobo Stove
See Mother Earth News for more details and picture
(1) Use a 2 or 3 pound coffee can, #10 (gallon) or unused 1 gallon paint can (must be metal).
(1a) If you use a paint can the lid can be used as a bottom for your stove.
(2) Remove bottom of can.
(3) Turn can over, put bottom of can inside. This creates a double top which heats the air between the two layers and leads to more even heat.
(4) Using a triangular can opener punch four holes in the can, this will allow smoke to vent and hold the bottom of the can up.
(5) Cut a 4 x 4 inch hole on the open end of the can.
(5a) If you use a paint can carefully cut the hole so that the bottom will still fit.
(6) Put two small holes above the opening you made, wrap the 4 x 4 inch piece of metal wire (metal coat hanger) around it (damper).

The stove will work without step 6.

Smaller Hobo Stove
Use a smaller 1 pound coffee can (or similar sized can).
Follow directions for Traditional Hobo Stove, adjusting the bottom hole as necessary.

If you make the Smaller Hobo Stove you can use a 1 gallon unused metal paint can to keep the stove it. Make sure you get a metal paint can opening key and attach it to the handle with a piece of parachute (or similar) cord. Put your Smaller Hobo Stove inside the paint can along with twigs and fire starting supplies, put the lid back on to seal it and you have a handy waterproof container for your stove, fuel and fire starting supplies in one place. The entire unit can be kept in your backpack or hung from the outside of your backpack.

You can use a 1 pound coffee can with a plastic lid, or a one quart unused metal paint can, much as you would a 1 gallon paint can, in this case you would make the Hobo Stove from a smaller can such as a 14 or 16 oz fruit type can.