10 Unique Ways to Start A Fire Without Newspaper | Paper free fires

This post was most recently updated on August 3rd, 2021

If you are like us and prefer to use a renewable heat source like a fire, you might be interested in some different ways to start a fire without newspaper. I am very aware that newspaper is a dying resource as more and more people choose to use online news sources (or none at all like me!). Sometimes you simply have no paper to burn. What can you burn when you have no paper to use to get your fire started?

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Here are 10 paper-free fire lighting ideas that you should keep in mind.

Currently we get our newspaper for our wood cooker from my in-laws who buy it regularly. But that won’t last forever. So I have been exploring different options for getting the fire started without using paper.

RELATED: How to light a fire without kindling

10 Ways to Light a Fire Without Newspaper

1)  Palm or Cabbage tree leaves

Lay a dozen or so together and then double them in half and tie the bundle with another leaf or some jute string. Stack and leave until dry. Use one or two bundles as required.

2) Flower heads and stems from flax

Harvest the flower heads and stems once the seeds have formed. Cut into short lengths and store until dry.

3) Dried hydrangea flowers

Harvest the flower heads at full bloom, hang them upside down to dry. Use as you would use paper.


4) Toitoi / Pampas grass

These leaves can be gathered and tied in bundles and dried similar to the cabbage tree leaves.

RELATED POST: How to use a woodstove to cook

RELATED POST: How to dry your wood FAST

5) Old bamboo stakes

If you use bamboo in your garden, you will know they eventually get brittle and are no longer useful in the garden. Cut them in to short lengths between each node so that they don’t explode when they get hot.

6) Boxes of recycling paper

Just because you cannot get newspaper anymore does not mean you cannot use other paper sources. Chances are there is an office near you with plenty of scrap paper that you could take off of their hands for them.

7) Dried orange skin

This is commonly used in Europe to start a fire without newspaper. Mandarins and lemons work too as the skins are high in volatile oils. Simply save the skins when you are finished with the citrus and leave them in one layer to dry out. To speed up the process you can place them in a low oven or on a hanging rack above your fire.


8) Brush or herb leaves.

Trees such as the bay tree, or most leaves really will light easily once they are dry. Prune entire branches and hang them in a cool dry place to dry out. Once dry you can store the leaves and twigs in sacks ready to use come winter time. Plants with higher levels of oils in their leaves will even burn when they are green – gorse, pine and some culinary herbs fit in this category.


Portable tinder and flint options though amazon:

9) Pinecones

Dried pinecones are great to get a fire going, but unless they also have the papery bits on them, you will likely have to combine them with another option to have good success.


10) Cardboard

Toilet rolls and cardboard boxes are usually freely available and they burn really well. Save them up over the summer and use them once the weather gets cold.

Other ideas from some readers: “My sister dries her tea bags on the window sill in a saucer, adds kerosene or turps. After they have dried out she puts them in a jar and uses as fire starters.”
“I get lots of peach stones so I let them dry out in the summer and they go good in the fire, also walnut husks.”

Another option is to use nothing but kindling and wood and then light your fire with a gas torch or use a very small amount of alcohol in the fire. Both are somewhat dangerous and probably are not a great idea. But it does work in a pinch.

Remember to keep yourself safe when dealing with fires and keep those littlies away from it!

How to start a fire in a fireplace without newspaper

1. The first step to starting a fire in a fireplace without newspaper you will need to clean out the ashes in the fireplace. Be sure to leave about an inch of ashes still in the bottom to help protect the base of your fire and to aid with airflow under the new fire.

2. Choose your fire-starter option from the list above, ensure it is properly dry and that you have plenty of it. If you don’t have enough of one starter, you can mix and match from what you do have available.

3. Place the fire starter in a small pile on the bottom of your fire and stack thin sticks of very dry kindling in a teepee fashion around the fire-starters.

4. Add one to two pieces of dry firewood over the top of the teepee of kindling so it will catch light easily.

5. Open all the dampers of your fireplace to their full or high setting.

6. Using a match, firelighter, flint or whatever manner you have to light the fire, light the firestarters.

7. If the fire only smolders, you may need to blow gently at the base of the fire to encourage the flames to take hold. Leaving the door slightly open might be required if there is no wind outside to help create ‘draw’ in the chimney. 

8. Once the fire is well ignited, you can add additional firewood to feed the fire and keep it going. When a good bed of hot coals is established you can close the dampers in stages to slow the burn but maintain the heat of the fire.


Do you have any secret ways to start a fire without newspaper ? Tell me about it in the comments below!

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