Wednesday, April 25, 2012

How I Reuse Dryer Lint for Camping, Emergency Preparedness, and Beekeeping

Yep, you read that right -- I reuse dryer lint.

It may be the most random reuse I've written about yet. It seems weird and even a little gross, I know. (I wonder what it is about dryer lint that's kind of gross. I mean, it's just little bits of our clothes, right?)  But don't worry, this reuse is nothing really outlandish, I promise. (Speaking of weird reuses, I couldn't help but think of this book, especially since there is a bit of cat hair in the dryer lint pictured above...)

As you probably know, dryer lint is really flammable, hence the need for regular cleaning of the lint catcher and dryer exhaust vent. Why not use that flammability to your advantage and make a fire-starter?

I first learned about this from a woman at church, who was teaching a class about emergency preparedness (it was the same class where we learned to make these emergency heaters). Too bad she moved out of our neighborhood -- she had so many useful ideas. Anyway, she showed us how to make fire-starters with dryer lint, a cardboard egg carton, and some melted wax.

To make the fire-starters, fill an egg carton with dryer lint, really packing the lint into each egg compartment.  Next, melt some wax. When we made these, we melted down nearly used-up candles in an old stockpot (all those scented candles created a pretty interesting combination) and also used some new, unscented wax from a craft store (nothing fancy, of course. It's for coating dryer lint, after all). Pour the wax all over the lint in each compartment, making sure the lint gets covered completely. The wax will soak through to the cardboard bottoms, so put something underneath it. Let the wax cool and harden. When you're ready to use one, simply tear off one of the egg compartments.

Here's the reason behind these fire-starters: they hold a flame while you're adding fuel to a fire. Often when building a fire, you'll go through a bunch of matches lighting and relighting the kindling in your fire as you wait to for the actual firewood to catch the flame. A gust of wind will often put out a fledgling flame, or too much firewood will smother it, or something like that. That's where the fire-starters come into play.

These fire-starters, once lit, will burn for several minutes, keeping your flame going strong until the fire starts burning the firewood. Using these dryer lint starters make building a good fire easier and less wasteful, making it great for camping and backpacking. In an emergency situation I imagine they would be not only good for the aforementioned reasons, but also as a way to conserve matches.

But what about beekeeping?

This Saturday we're getting two packages of bees for the hives we just purchased! It's a joint venture with my parents since we split the start-up costs and hives will be in their yard. In preparation for the installing of the packages and future inspections, Kevin and I decided to practice lighting and using the smoker beforehand. (PS -- Pay no attention to my horrible looking picnic table. It's getting a paint job soon!)

We decided to try one of the fire-starters in it. As intended, the fire-starter held the flame right away. We added some dry leaves, too, but not much.

It worked so well! Not only did it produce a bunch of smoke, but it was the cool, white smoke that is ideal for beekeeping, too. Using the lint starter alone might not give enough smoke depending on how long your inspection lasts, but it definitely seemed to work better than using paper or dry grass/leaves. When we use it our smoker, we'll probably use the fire-starter and then some fuel like burlap or green weeds. When I took my beekeeping class, the instructor said, half-jokingly, that lighting your smoker and getting it going can take longer than the inspection itself. With the lint starters, we had our smoker going full-force in less than a minute!

So, yeah, even dryer lint has a reuse. Keep an empty egg carton in your laundry room. Who knows? You might be glad you saved the stuff someday.

{This post is linked to Homestead Barn Hop and Your Green Resource}


Crystal said...

WHat a wonderful blog you have here. Really. I once had a preparedness blog, but three kids and a move seemed to tip it into the "things I just can't manage any more" pile. You made me want to be more dedicated to it again.

Anonymous said...

I don't generate much dryer lint, since I hang dry most of my loads of laundry - but I will start keeping what I do get - I love this!

Heather said...

Thanks so much! And you should start blogging there again -- I think I'm still a follower of it! You had a lot of great ideas on there.

Heather said...

I know what you mean -- most of the lint I saved is from the winter months when my clothesline was in hibernation!

Unknown said...

This would be best with pure cotton and other natural fibers. Keep in mind that most of our modern clothes are made of synthetic fibers, so you are probably burning plastic. You probably aren't burning enough of it to be a major health issue, but you're burning plastic! Just sayin.

Heather said...

Very true! I try to stay away from polyester and other synthetic fibers, but that is definitely something to take into consideration.

Brenda Lowe said...

I bet you could use sweeper lint too.

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