How to Make a Fire Starter With Used Coffee Grounds

6 Simple steps to follow to create your own inferno bricks at home


If you’re an outdoor junky or someone who actively participates in outdoor recreational activities, then you know that survival resources can be found all around you if you just know what to look for. Knowing how to start a fire, filter water, find shelter etc., are always important things to know when the outdoors is your calling.

Here in this article you’ll learn how to create a fire starter or inferno bricks using a few basic items, like coffee grounds. So not only are you enjoying the multiple benefits of the coffee, from it’s aroma to the taste, you can now use it’s filters and used grounds to help start a fire. 

You can always choose to buy your own fire starters or inferno bricks, but if you’re looking to save, you can always get handy and make them yourself with a few items you were about to throw away. Let’s get to it.

This fire starter uses:

1. Wax 

2. Sawdust

3. Altoid tins

4. Aluminum foil

5. Coffee grounds

6. Small coffee filters

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Many coffee filter fire starters contain sawdust, coffee grounds, a coffee filter and then it is injected and coated with wax. So all you would have to do is to take your match or lighter to it and get a fire going.

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When creating your own fire starter, you’ll be using some of the same materials but without the bulk. Instead, you’ll learn how to make them flat, which makes them much lighter in weight, easier to pack as they take up less room, and you can take more of them on your outdoor adventures. 

To get started you will need regular small coffee filters, the bigger filters can be a pain to use when you begin to fold it. You will also need some good old sawdust, wax and coffee grounds.

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To make your flat coffee fire starters, you will need both a small and big altoid tin. For your small flat fire starter you can get a burn time of up to 11 minutes, while your bigger inferno bricks can give you a burn time of up to 14 minutes. 

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Step 1:  Preparing the filters

To get started, flatten out and place your small coffee filter in your small altoid tin. When you’re stuffing the filter in, make sure that you aren’t creasing the edges of the filter around and under the lips, or edge of the altoid tin. If you do that, the filter may become difficult to pull out from under the lip of the can.

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Step 2:  Drying the coffee grounds

Before using your used coffee grounds you have two methods to ensure that it is fully dried out. One, you can place it in the oven or you can let them sit out until they’re completely dried, by spreading it out on a pan or plate.

The drying time will also vary depending on the season, if it’s summer time then you can always leave it out to dry. If it's cold or you’re on a bit of a time crunch you can always place it in the oven. If you leave your coffee grounds out in a corner where there's no sunlight, heat or dry air, your coffee grounds will start to mold, at that stage you may just want to place it in the oven to get it dried.

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Step 3:  Coffee to sawdust ratio

For your smaller altoid tins, you want to add a mix of 1 tablespoon of used coffee grounds to 1 tablespoon of sawdust.

While for the larger tin, it's a mix of 2 tablespoons of sawdust to 1 tablespoon of coffee grounds. The coffee in this instance sustains the fire longer, making it a slow burn. While the sawdust has a high fast burn quality. 

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Step 4:  Creating the mixture

Take your spoon and place the sawdust inside the tin and on the filter. You want to then add your spoon of coffee grounds to the mix. Make sure that the sawdust is added first and is the base when creating the larger one. For those larger bricks, place the sawdust as the base, then the coffee grounds and then another tablespoon of the sawdust. This is to ensure that the coffee grounds are sandwiched between the sawdust.

When adding the sawdust you may find bits and pieces of wood chips you can choose to leave them or remove them.

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Once you’ve done that, take the ends of your filter and fold them resting on top of each other to help minimize any mess. 

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When you’re through folding all the ends, the piece that sticks up, try to fold it a few more times. That protruding piece will be a lot easier to light, because when you dip it into the wax it goes down, so you don’t have to worry about peeling the filter back.

Continue to do this until you have the desired amount of inferno bricks. Using a match or lighter, these will light up right away. However, if you were to use a char cloth or ferro rods, it will take a bit of time to light up.

You also have the option to break up the larger and smaller inferno bricks so that you don't have to use the entire thing.

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Step 5:  Adding the wax

As a reminder, wear and take the necessary precautions when handling hot wax. When heating your wax whether it be beeswax or paraffin wax, do not place it directly in the pot that will be resting on the flames.

Place a pot with some hot water on the stove and then place another pot or glass bowl inside of it. In that glass bowl or pot, that is where you will place your wax to be melted.

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Once you’ve melted the wax, it's now time to place your inferno bricks inside the bowl, on the bottom side. When you place each brick inside the melted wax, give it some time to soak right through before removing each, and placing it on aluminum foil.

To ensure that the inferno bricks are soaked through, you can use a spoon to help submerge the brick in the wax. To remove it, you can use a warm spoon or  tongs to ensure that it doesn’t get stuck to the brick.

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When you have added wax to all your inferno bricks… you’re going to give them a second soaking, this time with the top or front of the brick now submerged in the wax. You can choose to do it in one sitting if everything sticks together well.

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Step 6:  Drying the inferno bricks

Now it doesn’t take a long time for the wax to dry, after you've soaked it all the way through, rest them on a sheet of aluminum foil and give them a few minutes. It doesn’t take a couple of hours to dry so you’ll be able to use them in no time.

As a reminder, the burn time for these coffee filter fire starters may vary based on the ratio of coffee and sawdust mix you used, and the environment. A windy, damp day may give you a different outcome from a hot day, so the environment will play a huge factor in your results.

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The larger bricks in general should be able to burn a bit longer than the small bricks because there’s less product inside. However, both should provide you with sufficient amounts of time to get a good fire going. If you can’t get your fire going within 2 to 5 minutes, well maybe you have some more issues happening. The size of the wood chips being used should be around the size of your pinky, and you have to make sure that the wood is not wet or frozen. If these are not a factor, you should be able to have your fire going in no time.

And there you have it, your coffee filter fire starter. So next time think twice about throwing out your coffee grains and filter, when you can have some fun with your camping partners and create a few of these super easy DIY inferno bricks.

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