Citrus (oranges in particular) grow in winter so we have *plenty* of them around at the moment. Once you realise that you can use citrus skins as fire starters this is actually highly convenient as winter is also when we’re cold – and lighting lots of fires. Good dots to join as composting large amounts, even small’ish amounts of citrus skin in small compost systems can be problematic. They just kind of hang around…. For ages.
For this reason we hardly put any in our compost systems, instead we use them as fire starters for our wood fire inside our house. The oils inside the skin are highly combustable, so when you put a match to the dry skin it coughs and splutters into flame. Here’s a bad, out of focus photo of just that happening to the right. Sorry – taking a photo and playing with fire isn’t the best combo.
To prep them for being fire starters we dry them until they’re crispy hard. We do this by simply leaving them on top of our wood fire for one or two fires/nights. If your fire doesn’t have even a small top to place them on like ours does (we wish it was bigger), you can dry them in an oven on a low temperature – around 100 degrees I reckon.
When you’re ready, stack your little fire with kindling and spread the citrus skins throughout the pile.
Simply add some fire and *Ta Da* – warm, citrus-smelling fire will arrive quickly.
What if you don’t have a wood fire?
Of course if you don’t have a wood fire then another option for using up citrus skins is to make a potent cleaning product that can be used for cleaning your kitchen bench, floors, bathroom sink or toilet. Simply stuff your citrus peels into a glass jar and pour vinegar (any type) over it until fully covered.
Leave it soaking for around two weeks, then drain the liquid off into a clean bottle for storage. Once you’re ready, pour it and some water into a container/spray bottle and use it. The ratio for water and citrus mix is around 50:50 ratio, make it stronger if you need to.
The great thing about this method is that after two weeks the citrus skins are so mushy that they break down quite quickly in a small compost system. Just remember to only add small amounts at any one time as the citrus/vinegar mix is super strong and could cause imbalance in your compost pile.
Of course there’s only so much cleaning product you need, so it’s good to be able to have other uses for them too. Luckily you can also eat citrus skin in a broad range of ways, make a tea out of it and so much more – just spend 5 minutes on the world wide web and you’ll be sorted!
- FYI – the citrus skin we do put into our compost bins is cut up into small pieces – around the size of a 50c coin, this at least helps it break down more quickly.