One of my favorite things about fall and winter is the smell of burning wood and bonfires. Whether it comes from a backyard chimenea or a wood-burning stove, I’m always anxious for the temperature to drop a few degrees just so I can light a fire at home.
I mostly keep it low-fi and light some crumpled newspaper to get a fire going, but these homemade herb and spice fire starters are a simple step that makes a fire feel really special. If you use them inside the house, they’ll fill the air with the most wonderful aroma that lingers until the next morning. The only way I can describe it is… it smells like the holidays!
Fresh and dried herbs both work for these fire starters (though the dry stuff will burn a bit better), as well as the kinds of spices you’d use to mull cider. If you’ve ever wondered what to do with all those leaves and branches you prune from your herbs but can never use up, this is the perfect application for them.
For dried citrus peels, you can dry them quickly and easily in your oven using the same method for oven-dried oregano. Just take a vegetable peeler to the fruit before you juice it. The oil in the peel helps fuel the fire, making it a fragrant, natural kindling. I personally like the smell of dried orange and lemon peels, but any citrus will work.
Herbs and spices to try:
- Fresh or dried rosemary sprigs
- Fresh or dried lemongrass leaves
- Fresh or dried lemon verbena
- Fresh or dried lavender
- Fresh or dried sage
- Dried citrus peels
- Cinnamon sticks
- Whole cloves
To assemble your fire starters, you’ll need:
- Natural fiber twine (like cotton, jute or hemp)
Fold a sheet of newspaper in half lengthwise, and then in half crosswise (the way it comes on the newsstand). Add your favorite fire-starting mix on top. For mine, I used a handful of fresh rosemary, a bundle of fresh lemongrass, a few dried lemon peels, a cinnamon stick, a spoonful of cloves, and a small heaping of dried lavender.
Roll it all up, then tie the ends with twine like a Tootsie Roll.
When you want to start a fire, simply place a few of these herb and spice bundles under your sticks and logs, newspaper end out, and light. Then just kick your feet up and get cozy!