• Happy Birthday, Bill Mason (1929-1988)! 🎨📽️🛶

Fire in a can # 11

Jul 6, 2021
Reaction score
The Hereford Zone along the Mason-Dixon Line
Actually #12; I looked back and apparently lost count at some point, making two “#5’s”

I have had a ball making these things and giving them away. The pots have cost a couple bucks at Goodwill, the wax mostly leftover candle stubs and gifts from friends, and the cardboard is free. Call it $3 per FIAC, good cheap fun.

The hatch-sized sea kayaker versions have been most appreciated. Finally accumulating enough leftover wax, including a half dozen or so fat candle stubs from the missus, and a giant 7-wick alter-boy church candle (thanks Conk) it was time to make another.

P4270004 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

I suspect that the multi-wick church candle is high quality wax; it is noticeably heavier and more dense than the home candle stubs.

The only thing lacking was a stainless steel pot, suitable for a salt water environment. I had been checking Goodwill for months to no avail when what to my wondering eyes should appear? A hatch sized SS pot & lid.

P4270005 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

7” diameter, a bit shallow at 3 ¼” deep, but still a good sea kayak hatch size. Worth every penny of $1.99. Keep the change.

Cardboard for the spiral wick I got; I’d been saving thickly corrugated stuff, so the open corrugations will hold some wick wax. Cut a length off, curl it in a spiral and rubber band it tightly for a spell so it will maintain a spiral shape when released.

As usual I wanted some taller cardboard spacers, folded into vees to hold the spiral wick apart and provide some protrusions for easy flick of a Bic lighting. Light a couple of the taller “wicks” and the flames rapidly spread across the spiral wick.

Cardboard spacers in place, holding the outer ring away from the pot edge and providing some distance between the wick spiral. The void left in the center is intentional; this is a small FIAC pot, and will need feeder bricks small enough not to melted wax drown the wick.

P4270007 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Time to get out the “tools”; wax melting pot, smaller pour pot, sieve to retrieve floating candle wicks and other debris, waxy from past work gloves.

P4270010 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

While I’m pouring melted wax I’ll make another batch of ice cube tray and muffin tin feeder bricks. Placed in the spiral center void those wax feeders won’t crush the charred cardboard wicks.

What I didn’t have was any Citronella oil to add to the feeder bricks. I’m not sure how effective Citronella actual is at repelling insects. Plus it is bug-zapper fun to hear the sizzle as a pesky fly enters the flames. “Take that, ya bitey little b*st*rd”.

I didn’t have any “Funky Flames” color powder either. I still have some small feeder bricks with that additive from the last batch made, and will include a variety of “special” feeder bricks with this FIAC.

I will have some funky feeder brick scents. The fattie home candle stubs are odoriferous, some quite so. Who knows what “Enchanted Garden” and “Joyful Jasmine & Gardenia” will smell like when mixed. Probably attract bears.

P4280013 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

It’s a witches brew of flavors; stirring the pot “double double toil and trouble”

P4280015 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

The stubs had a noticeably lower melt point than the alter-boy candle. Now the shop smells of Enchanted Gardenia, with a hint of, what is that, lilac? Better than turpentine.

Wax muffin anyone? I made them myself.

P4280017 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

In pouring the hot wax into the FIAC pot and saturating the tall wicks I lost some of the spiral spacing, so I added a couple of vee wicks to the center void. Those wax pours can rest for the night; tomorrow I can pop the feeder brick muffins and cubes out, and melt a small batch of wax to fill the dimpled crater that will appear in the FIAC pot as the cardboard continues to soak up wax.

Or not even the next day. A few hours after pouring wax in the pot a depression had already appeared in the wax.

P4280018 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Next morning that depression had become the crevice that swallowed Ninnis on Mawson’s expedition.

P4280020 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Even the scented wax muffins had developed dimpled craters.

P4280022 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Time for a melted wax re-pour in the FIAC pot and the feeder brick containers.

P4280023 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

P4280024 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

That secondary pot pour used up last of the leftover unscented candle wax, and this batch of feeder bricks are all from scented candle stubs.

P4290028 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

I did an inaugural test burn. It takes a while to get a fire in a can going the very first time; after that, with the wicks pre-charred, a fire in a can blazes up flames almost instantly.

Second lighting with charred wicks, timed from start to fully engulfed blaze. Less than 30 seconds from this

P4290035 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

To this

P4290032 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

It was a windy out, and the porch railing didn’t have room for the sooty folding wind screen reflector, handy in applications other than FIAC blazes.

P4290033 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

That instant lit and instant lid-extinguished feature is often appreciated. Sometimes I just want a quickie 10 minute blaze for some warmth and cheer, without having to stick around and tend to hot coals. Lit with the flick of a Bic and extinguished in an instant works for me.

Not sure who gets this one. I think I’ll give it to a friend, who has his own FIAC (eh, maybe a couple), and ask that he give it to some sea kayak acquaintance in Maine. The whole thing, with some feeder bricks, fits in a small stuff sack. I don’t have a right sized stuff bag, but for give away purposes I do have the useless pouch from a Noah’s tarp.

Plenty of room for the pot and a goodly supply of feeder bricks. I added a bag of muffins and cubes with Funky Flames additive, just for the eventual recipient’s trippy fun.

P4290029 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Fully wax loaded, with lid, the can weights 5 lbs exactly; the higher melt point church candle wax was heavier than the other waxes I’ve used and should make a great long lasting base.

In the carrying case, with bags of assorted feeder bricks, 6lb 2oz.

P4290030 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

That was inexpensive easy and too much fun. Time to start saving old candle wax again.

FWIW craft stores sell wax for candle making. 180 degree melt point, better than the 145 degree stuff I had been buying, and no-shipping cost pick-up available.


Car camped, base camped or no-portage downriver trips a Fire in a can is Serenity now. A friend brings a giant stock pot sized one in her car to enjoy with friends after group bike trips in the off-season.