Struggling with getting a fire started outdoors is never a memorable experience, especially if you're camping and your warmth depends on the source of heat. Or, perhaps everyone is eager to start roasting marshmallows! With the addition of a fire starter, you can get a good flame going within minutes.
However, there are a ton of options to sort through. So, we've looked for the most reliable and camper-approved fire starter options and compiled a list for you to consider. Überleben's Zünden Fire Starter, for example, is compact, easy to hold, and releases sparks with each strike. There are nine more fire starters in the lineup, plus a buying guide reviewed by an outdoor guide to help you pick the right one for your needs.
Depending on the particular use, you might be at a loss on which type of fire starter to get, such as for backyard grilling or camping. The following buying guide will expound on the fire starter types and their considerations.
There are many ways to create a fire. Each type relies on a form of physics, such as friction, to create enough combustion energy. The two main fire starters that feature a form of physics are flint and steel and fire pistons.
These options are perfect for survival kits or outdoor use due to their compact size and weather resistance.
The most common type of fire starter features the traditional flint and steel method. It relies on the super-heated friction between a rod and steel. More modern versions substitute flint with ferrocerium alloy or magnesium, which achieves longer burning sparks. This tool can work in wet or moist conditions and is light and portable.
You might need to check if the flint or ferro rod and steel come with recurring costs, such as replacing the flint rocks or rods when finished. The tool also has a learning curve, especially regarding getting enough sparks to ignite a fire.
Ferro and steel sets usually come attached together. Look for one that is easy to use and that its attachment string/mechanism is long enough where you can easily separate them to strike together. Many cheap sets are attached together with a cheap attachment, which makes them easy to lose.
Instead of friction, fire pistons rely on the first law of thermodynamics. This involves a rod that is rapidly pressed into a tube or cylinder. Tinder, usually char cloth, is placed inside the tube, and the rod pushes out all air when inserted. This forces the material to combust, becoming embers for starting a fire.
Fire pistons are very portable and are about the size of a pen, so they don’t take up too much space in a backpack. They are also easier to use.
One thing to note is the O-ring or seal of the piston, which can easily get compromised. When this is broken, the whole thing is useless. We recommend double-checking if replacements are accessible.
Much like how the butane in a lighter or matches in a box eventually run out, fire starters also have a limited lifespan. The rod of a ferro and steel starter can become too thin or the scraper too dull. Consider the lifespan or number of strikes to ensure that you have a source of fire ignition to meet your needs.
For example, if you rely on a ferro rod for hiking or camping, some manufacturers offer rods with different thicknesses. You can choose a thicker rod if you will be making fires often.
Furthermore, it’s best to read through reviews to confirm if the fire starter produced enough sparks with each strike or push or took more effort to get a fire going. Feedback on a particular product often includes performance and reliability so you can make an informed purchase.
Be sure to keep the fire starters away from moisture as much as possible as getting them wet can degrade the striker or steel, making them not have as long of a lifespan. I also recommend starting a fire before heading out into the wilderness.
When packing your survival kit, every inch of space counts. You also need your essentials to weigh as light as possible to make your backpack comfortable to carry on long hikes. With that in mind, check the fire starter’s dimensions and see if you need to compromise on space or weight when including it in your survival gear.
Fire pistons are often the most portable options, while friction types come in multiple pieces and are bulkier. Some fire starters come with a band and can be hung around your neck for extra convenience. This way, you can easily grab it and get a fire going.
Fire starters for survival often come with extra features, making them more functional, such as the striker having measurement markings or doubling as a blade or bottle opener.
Most fire starter kits are pretty small, so just be mindful of where you place them and avoid getting them separated. If your set has two separate tools, then it is recommended to find a way to tie them together with cordage.
When it comes to fire starters for home use, such as fireplaces, grills, smokers, and fire pits, you can find specially designed products that assist in building a fire by holding a flame.
Whether it's blocks of sawdust with a coat of wax, a putty material, or treated rope, these products stay lit long enough for a fire to spread to wood or charcoal.
They're also often weatherproofed, so strong winds or contact with liquids won't render them useless. Although these fire starters need a source to ignite, they are convenient alternatives to traditional kindle or tinder.
There are many different types of home starters, from pellets, blocks, and logs. Pick the appropriate amount of fire starter depending on how big and how fast you are trying to make the fire.
The other traditional methods of starting a fire include using matches, a lighter, or magnifying glass. The first is an economical, albeit limited, option. On the other hand, lighters are very easy to use, although they can get easily damaged due to the moving parts and susceptibility to moisture.
Lastly, you can find magnifying lenses made for survival featuring a convex glass with heightened magnification. You don’t need anything besides the sun to get this to work, making it a great backup fire starter.
There are many things you probably have around the house that can make for a great fire starter. People who have a dryer in their home: take out the lint and save it in a bag for future firestarter. Also, dipping cotton balls in Vaseline is another great method for creating your own firestarter.
If you want to get a grill going, then a lighter or match would do the trick. However, if you’re looking for something that will go into a survival tool kit, learning how to use the fire starter is necessary. If you plan on hiking in unpredictable weather, check that your fuel source and ignition type aren’t rendered useless when wet or windy.
You can go for flint and steel, ferro rods, or fire pistons since they are weatherproof and more reliable for outdoor use. We also recommend taking the time to get the hang of the tool and study its usage precautions to be prepared.
The following tools will assist you in all your fire creation needs. We made our choices based on the points listed in the buying guide below, as well as reviewer comments when available.
*Please note that these products were chosen after extensive research by mybest writers. The choices are not necessarily affiliated with or recommended by Pak Eugene. For more on our selection process, check out our editorial policy. Prices were gathered from respective EC sites on July 20, 2022.
Melt Candle Company
Zünden Fire Starter (Pro 3/8")
Fire Starter Rope
Magnesium Survival Fire Starter
Survival Ferrocerium Drilled Flint Fire Starter
Full Magnesium Body Fire Starter
Tindår Wick + Bellow
Fire Starters (160 pack)
Portable and Ergonomic Starter With Multiple Rod Thickness
Compact and Simple Wood Fire Lighter
Weatherproof Fire Starter Rope
A Multi-Tool Fire Starter Kit
A Ferro Rod With a Good Grip
Everything You Need in a Fire Starter Kit
A Clean-Burning Fire Starter Putty
Weatherproof Magnesium Fire Starter
Easily Make a Mobile Flame
Must-Have Fire Starter for Home Use
|Type||Ferro rod||Wood fire lighter||Rope fire lighter||Magnesium rod||Ferro rod||Ferro rod||Fire starter putty||Magnesium rod||Rope fire lighter||Wood fire lighter|
|Weight||Not specified||4.5 oz.||2.3 oz.||0.15 lbs.||2.1 oz.||Not specified||2 oz.||Not specified||0.06 oz. wick||Not specified|
|Lifespan||15,000 strikes||Up to 30 mins. burn time||50+ fires||15,000 strikes||Not specified||Approx. 1,000 strikes||Up to 13 mins. burn time for a quarter-sized portion||Not specified||Approx. 1 hr. for entire rope||Up tp 10 mins. burn time per piece|
|Dimensions||Approx. 5 x 0.375 in. thick||Not specified||8 x 1 in.||5.5 in. long||4 x 0.38 in. (rod)||Not specified||2.5 x 1 in.||3 x 1 in.||13 x 0.23 in.||1.75 x 1.2 in. per piece|
|Dimensions||Approx. 5 x 0.375 in. thick|
|Type||Wood fire lighter|
|Lifespan||Up to 30 mins. burn time|
|Type||Rope fire lighter|
|Dimensions||8 x 1 in.|
|Dimensions||5.5 in. long|
|Dimensions||4 x 0.38 in. (rod)|
|Lifespan||Approx. 1,000 strikes|
|Type||Fire starter putty|
|Lifespan||Up to 13 mins. burn time for a quarter-sized portion|
|Dimensions||2.5 x 1 in.|
|Dimensions||3 x 1 in.|
|Type||Rope fire lighter|
|Weight||0.06 oz. wick|
|Lifespan||Approx. 1 hr. for entire rope|
|Dimensions||13 x 0.23 in.|
|Type||Wood fire lighter|
|Lifespan||Up tp 10 mins. burn time per piece|
|Dimensions||1.75 x 1.2 in. per piece|
|Dimensions||3.8 x 1 in.|
The MSR Strike Igniter is a well-made Ferro and steel striker for the outdoors. It comes attached with appropriately spaced-out cordage for both attachments. Both attachments are also magnetic, so you can't lose just one. Not to mention there is a bottle opener attached as well.
Convenience and safety are key aspects of any outdoor excursion or survival kit. We've got a few suggestions that you can add to your gear to make your experience more comfortable.
This expert reviewed the contents of the buying guide for accuracy and provided factual corrections when necessary. They did not participate in the product selection process, nor are they affiliated with any of our choices unless explicitly stated so.
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