Here's the Scoop: January 18, 2012

Good to have a hobby
Dryer lint. Friend or foe? If allowed to pile up unchecked so that it creates a fire hazard, dryer lint is definitely an enemy.

But there’s a “burning use” for dryer lint that falls squarely into the “friend” category, as well. I’ll admit, I wasn’t aware of the positive aspect of dryer lint until Christmas. That’s when I carefully opened a gift box (after being warned numerous times that the package was fragile) and discovered a pile of fire-starters.

The main ingredient in the fire-starters, you have probably guessed, was dryer lint. It’s a very complex formula (a few notches more secretive than Coca-Cola), so let me just state that the lint is mixed with paraffin and the combo is held together in cardboard egg containers.

Just add a match and you’ve got a party. Well, maybe not a party, but you’ve got a pretty good basis for a fire. And then you can feel free to invite friends over to enjoy the warmth.

I only know this since I’ve been involved with the process firsthand. Add a fire-starter in with a bit of newspaper (any paper but the collectible Catskill Mountain News will work well) and a few sticks of kindling and poof — your fire is set to go. No need for fat wood or any other gimmicks advertised to help get a fire going.

What in the world?
Those of you who don’t use wood for heat may be wondering, “How hard can it be to start a fire?” Technically, it’s not that hard. But, there are times when under-seasoned wood or a lack of good kindling can make the process more difficult than one might think.

That’s why I’m crazy for these new fire-starters. Strike match, apply to fire-starter, get flames. It’s that easy.

Now, of course, I am completely smitten with these lint-filled fire-starters. And, I have no interest in running out. So, I have become a “collector.” Not in the serial-killer sort of way. No. My new passion is gathering huge amounts of dryer lint for future batches of fire-starters. This should not be confused with belly button lint. That would be gross.

I’m certainly not qualified to actually make the fire-starters (that takes years of study), but I am well-suited to emptying the contents of the dryer container into the climate-controlled holding tanks where the lint is stored until it reaches the proper age for mixing.

My only problem is impatience. Many fires are needed from October through March (and April and May, also!). And I don’t want to run short of fire-starters.

Time for laundry
As a result, I have found myself doing laundry at a feverish pace — all in the pursuit of dryer lint.

“Don’t you think we need to wash a load of towels?” I find myself asking my wife a lot lately. Towels, as anyone who has ever done laundry knows, are to dryer lint what the Middle East is to oil. Flannel sheets are a close second.

As you can tell, I’ve been riding the high of the discovery of the benefits of dryer lint for nearly a month. I now have a great fire-starting source — and a really fun hobby. Things could not get any better. Or could they?

The other day, my wife appeared in the doorway holding a large package. We’ve got half-a-year until my birthday, so I offered a quizzical look.

“White sale. Towels were an incredible price,” she responded to my stare.
Lint Heaven.
— Brian Sweeney