When you don't have central heat you rely on your fire for heat from October to May (at least). We use firelighters a lot and try to buy the "natural" ones which don't have chemicals. They are perfectly safe for a child to pick up by accident. Or I make my own. I once saw similar ones in a catalogue. They wanted £12 for them I think! Mine are free.
When I lived in America I would make firelighters using dryer lint, candle wax, and pine cones. We don't have a dryer (or lint), or pine cones here on the farm. So I gather old candle stubs, bits of shredded paper or cardboard, and sometimes spices.
This is not one for the kiddies! Unless they have adult supervision.
egg carton (cardboard)
piece of foil
bits of cotton wool, dryer fluff, or similar
shredded paper, card
dried citrus peel or herbs (optional)
1. Cut off the top of the egg carton and place the bottom on the foil. The foil will prevent any wax from dripping on your table.
2. Fill the egg cups with bits of paper, cotton, peel, etc.
3. Place old candles, chopped up in the tin can. Place the can in a pan of water and put on medium heat. Watch carefully to make sure the wax melts, but does not catch fire. (I actually place the wax in an old foil tray in the bottom of the AGA and check on it often instead.)
4. Using an oven glove or pot holder, carefully pour the melted wax into the egg cups. Use only a little in each cup to bind the bits together. If you overfill the cups, the wax will melt through the cardboard carton onto our foil. You could light a candle and let it drip over the egg cups, but I have found this method to take a very long time!
5. Leave the egg carton to harden and cut apart with scissors. They are not necessarily beautiful, but they are effective.
6. You can save any unused wax in the tin for next time. And then collect bits of old candles in it.