Sunday, September 14, 2008

Homemade Fire Starters - Fruit and Potpourri string

Here is my personal favorite for homemade fire starters using stringed fruit and potpourri. Homemade fire starters using fruit? Are you daft, you may ask? Well no. This is a homemade fire starter with a twist - the twist being on the ambience created to "keep your fire going" during the holiday season in order to "string it" along! Get it...string...never mind. Anyway, this is not just on the functionality of the homemade fire starter. After you have made your Fruit and potpourri string, you must place it UNDER the fire on the embers, not just use it to start the fire. Once you use some of the other homemade fire starters outlined in this blog, then you can "keep the fire going" so to speak by putting in these little jewels. All of these materials can be used from the yard or from your refrigerator. Also, the best way to keep circulating the fragrance oils for their best intensity is, of course, FIRE!

Now, you may not want to see these little gems as homemade fire starters. I personally don't either. But they are fun to make, very decorative and "Christmasy" and, of course, their purpose is to "house" the aroma of the fragrance oils for the holiday season. So I included them in this blog for homemade fire starters anyway. There! It's my blog - I can do that! Enjoy!

Recipe for homemade fire starter - Fruit and Potpourri string
Ingredients needed: dried apple slices (see below for drying technique), dried orange slices (see below for drying technique), small, dried pine cones (test to make sure they are not "young" with sap still in them), and cinnamon sticks cut into 1 inch sections. As in all my blogs, the ingredients are cheap and/or free from your backyard. Now I start off with 3 apples and 3 oranges for this simple project. Also, if you will check out the Hispanic/Mexican section in your grocer's store, you will find cinnamon sticks cheaper there than the cinnamon sticks with the other spices on down the spice aisle. Because they are poorer in quality, they are also easier to cut because they are drier. And, because they are drier, they really drink up the fragrance oil. So in this case, cheaper is better. These are mainly for the eye appeal and a receptor to house the fragrance oils. Now if you want to make your string a constant aroma, I would only go with one fragrance oil (such as cinnamon, orange, or apple). But, I like to experiment around, so I use the true fragrance oils for each group, i.e., for the apple slices I will use an apple fragrance oil, for the orange slices, I will use an orange fragrance oil, and for the cinnamon sticks, I will use a cinnamon fragrance oil. Now bear in mind that only 1 drop is needed every 4th slice, and these $5, one oz bottles will go quite a ways for projects like these. Think of it this way to get a better handle on the size of these bottles. Your average fingernail polish bottle is .5 oz. So 2 of these would be the equivalent of what you get in 1 oz of the fragrance oil bottle. And if you think of it, your average bottle of fingernail polish will cost you at LEAST $5 and not last you nearly as long for these "drop at a time" projects. So it puts it in the proper perspective. If you are going to try any of these projects, I would go with 3 of the 1 oz. bottles (in any combination) of the apple, orange, and cinnamon fragrance oils. These 3 scents can be used in other projects in my blogs and the combination of the 3 is a great base aroma for most of your Christmas scents, so it works in perfect combination for your homemade fire starters of fruit and potpourri string. Why spend $15 for one Wal-Mart scented candle which will only fragrance a small section of your home, when you can spend the same amount for 3 bottles of fragrance oil on projects that can be used throughout your home and fragrance the entire house? Also, the scent will be there on a continuous basis as opposed to the candles only when they are lit.

How to dry orange slices: Preheat oven to 200 degrees. While heating, cut your orange slices in very thin sections. Place on greased cookie sheet flat. Bake for 2 hours. Remove from oven and let cool. When cool, store in dry area (window seal is fine) for about 2 days until ready to "string" with other ingredients.

How to dry apple slices: Preheat oven to 150 degrees. While heating, cut your apple slices in very thin sections. Place on greased cookie sheet flat. Bake for 30 minutes. At the tail end of the process, I like to sprinkle mine with cinnamon (say about the last 5 minutes of cooking). When you add your refresher oil later in the season, the base of the cinnamon "cooked" into the apple slices is really potently revigorated. Remove from oven and let cool. When cool, store in dry area (window seal is fine) for about 2 days until ready to "string" with other ingredients.

How to string: Any heavy duty sewing thread will do. Just make sure you use the "doubled" technique. An embroidery needle is highly recommended for this project in order to push through the pine cone needles and cinnamon sticks. I would make my thread about 18 inches long. You use a combination of stringing 2 slices of orange, then a cinnamon stick, 2 slices of apple, then a small pine cone (attach through one of the petals), and repeat the process until finished. You can complete the end knot with a bow of raffia. Once completed, add 1 drop of your fragrance oil on every other fruit section on the string. If you are using a combination of the fragrances, make sure and match the fragrance to its partner. Apple fragrance for apple slices, orange fragrance for orange slices, and cinnamon fragrance for cinnamon sticks.

Now, you are ready for its purpose. I must apologize here because I hang my homemade fire starter of fruit and potpourri string on the mantle all during Christmas. The Christmas home visual is more appealing than its use as a homemade fire starter. Plus, if it is placed by the fire, the aroma will intensify and keep that smell really "baking" through the season. Wait until the end of the season before you use it like the other homemade fire starters and delegate it to the fireplace. You will be glad you did. Enjoy!

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