Category Archives: Fires

John, Northland.

John has written in with his “recipe” for making a perfect oily rag fire in a freestanding wood burning heater. “It all starts with junk mail. Use the newsprint type as the glossy paper does not burn so well. Next add dead cabbage tree leaves – the one’s that wrap around your mower blades and […]


Anita says she loves winter fires. “We use our freestanding wood fire to slow-cook winter meals in our cast iron pot. The bonus is we save on electricity, and we have ash from the stove to put on the garden”. Using wood ash is a very good oily rag trick. Spreading ash onto plants gives […]


For a fire starter, I take a few leaves, fold them over and wrap them around to form a tights bundle. It’s excellent kindling. [Another reader uses the dried stalks from the flax flower as kindling. It’s light like balsa wood and very easy to burn. – Oily Rag Ed’]

Claire Taylor, Auckland.

Save old dried out tea bags – put in jar and cover with methylated spirits – great fire starters. [Yes, that does work well. You don’t need a lot of meths. Enough so each bag is damp, not dripping. – Oily Eag Ed’]

G B, Kerikeri.

I have found that cutting the corners off the bottom of an empty one litre milk carton and packing in wet newspaper makes wonderful compressed fire bricks. As the carton fiills I make holes in the sides to allow the water to escape. Compress the wet paper into the carton. These paper bricks last about […]


A Masterton reader has a good idea for the leaves shed by cabbage trees. Use the dry leaves as fire starters or in your garden as plant ties.

M.T., Dunedin.

Fire starters. Blue gum trees shed bark as they grow. Collect, cut into suitable lengths with loppers while moist, allow to dry and use a few on top of paper. Just as good if not better than pine cones.


To make firebricks tear up old newspapers, junk mail, etc. Soak in water until they become a pulp. Squeeze dry, either by hand or using a firebrick cradle. Leave in the sun or a warm place to dry.