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Best Fire Starters 2018 – [Buyer’s Guide]Last Updated December 1, 2018
Best Fire Starters of 2018
If you’re reading this, it is very likely that you’re scouting for the best fire starters. I must say I am quite a fan of fire starters, so when the question “What are the best fire starters available on the market?” came to my mind, I excitedly started gathering information together with personal experience to write this article in the hope that it may help you find the suitable fire starters. The “Total” indicates the overall value of the product. The above tidbits will bring you closer to selecting fire starters that best serves your needs and as per your budget.
Test Results and Ratings
|Ease of use||
Why did this fire starters win the first place?
I really enjoy the design. It is compact, comfortable and reliable. And it looks amazing! The product is very strong. Its material is stable and doesn’t crack. I was completely satisfied with the price. Its counterparts in this price range are way worse. I don’t know anything about other models from this brand, but I am fully satisfied with this product.
№2 – Amazon’s Best Natural Fire Starter: Shefko EasyFire Fire Starter w/ 30-min. Burn-time Guarantee Clean
Why did this fire starters come in second place?
The design quality is top notch and the color is nice. The material is pretty strong and easy to wash if needed. I like this product. For such a low price, I didn’t even hope it to be any better. It’s decently made. Managers explained me all the details about the product range, price, and delivery.
Why did this fire starters take third place?
This price is appropriate since the product is very well built. It doesn’t squeaks nor bents. Looks great in my apartment. I liked the design. We’ve been using it for 2 months and it still looks like brand new. I hope that the good reputation of the manufacturer will guarantee a long-term work.
Fire Starters Buyer’s Guide
The charcoal chimney
This is the best method. A chimney is a tube with an upper compartment and a lower compartment. First you stuff newspaper into the bottom compartment, add charcoal to the top compartment, then you light the paper, and after about five minutes, put on a glove and grab the handle and give a shake so the unlit coals on top will turn over and that’s about it. In about 1minutes the coals are white and ready. The hot air from the newspapers rises and sucks oxygen in through the bottom which ignites the coals and creates an updraft that grows rapidly in heat making the top of the chimney blowtorch hot.
Some folks have been known to drizzle some cooking oil on the newspaper to make it burn longer but I’ve never found this necessary. Another technique is to use firestarters on the chimney. Weber sells small cubes of paraffin that work just fine (above). The package says to use two per chimney, but one is really all you need. You can even make your own starter cubes, cheap and easy. Just take a look at the sidebar.
Reader “SuperDave2″ writes to say he puts the chimney on the sideburner on his gas grill and “I can light my chimney with a push of a button, they are ready in half the time, and perfectly evenly lit.” Clever feller.
With a chimney there is no chemical aftertaste, no solvent smell in the air, and it’s a lot cheaper and safer than using lighter fluid. Just make sure you place it on something heatproof after you dump out the coals, and away from children and pets.
The Weber brand of chimney is my fave and it lasts longer than the cheaper models. But another feature of the chimney is that it is an excellent temperature controller for your cooking because it is a measuring cup! As you get experienced, you will learn just how high to fill the chimney in order to get your grill to the desired temp. A Weber chimney holds about five quarts, or about 80 briquets. For a Weber kettle, I put about half a chimney of unlit coals in the grill and put about half a chimney of fully lit coals on top to get to 225°F. To get to 325°F, 3/to a full chimney should do it. It all depends on the air temp, humidity, brand of charcoal, and other variables. You must do dry runs to calibrate your grill.
Use a chimney. Get repeatable heat every time and save your eyebrows.
The Looftlighter is a real boy toy. It is a hair drier flamethrower hybrid. Just make a pile of coals (try to count them first or use a giant coffee can to measure a fixed amount), place the tip of the Looftlighter against the coals, and within 20 seconds you’ll see sparks flying. Pull back a few inches, and in about a minute or two you have a ball of hot coals. Stir, and in about 1minutes you’re in biz. Looftlighter is an excellent way to start a chain of coals (there are occasions when you want to lay down a C-shaped chain of coals and light just one end).
On the minus side, you need an outlet, you don’t want to use it in the rain, you don’t have the convenient measuring tool of the chimney, you have to stir the coals, and you have to be careful where you place it when it is hot. Plus, it sounds like a leaf blower. sous vide machine one day, I discovered it can also be used to sear meat!
The electric starter
This is an electric coil similar to the coils on a hotplate. Pour a pile of charcoal in your grill and jam the coil into it and plug it in. As the coals ignite, remove the coil, and mix the unlit and lit coals together with a fireplace shovel. Make sure you place the hot coil on something that is not flammable until it cools. It’s an OK firestarter, and unlike the Looftlighter, you can walk away while it is doing its thing. But I have a few quibbles with it: You need access to an outlet, you don’t want to be using it in the rain, it ignites only the coals it is in contact with so you need to stir them around to get them all lit, and then you need to move them to where you want them. Chimneys are faster, get the coals hotter faster with less fuss, and you can dump them right where you want them. Also, you don’t have the convenient measuring tool that the chimney is.
Then there’s the real flame thrower. Connect it to a propane tank, hit the spark, and whoosh! Within a few minutes a whole bag of charcoal is glowing and that makes it popular on the competition circuit. And propane, unlike gasoline or lighter fluid, is flavorless and odorless when burnt. It is also good for burning weeds from the cracks in your patio, and flushing enemy woodchucks. This is the kind of tool Karl Spackler would love. This model is the Red Dragon Torch.
Discard the dust
Often there is charcoal dust and small crumbs in the bottom of the bag. Discard them. If you pour them in your grill they can clog the airspaces between the coals and constrict airflow and choke back your fire by as much as 50°F. Remember, oxygen is just as important as charcoal!
Discard the ashes
Empty the bottom of your grill. Ash is a great insulator and it reduces the amount of heat bouncing off the bottom of the cooker. On the other hand it reduces the amount of heat escaping through the bottom of the cooker. But too much ash can choke off oxygen, or be stirred up and coat your food with gray dust.
Paraffin wax blocks or some left over wax from used candles
Newspaper, cotton balls, or some dryer lint (whatever you have handy)
1) Put the parafin in a disposable aluminum pan, place the pan over a low heat source and melt the wax completely.
2) If you are using newspaper tear the pages into squares about 12″ x 12″, crumple into balls, and dip them into the wax holding one corner so it can act as the fuse when you light it. If you are using cotton balls simply hold a corner and dip into the melted wax. If you are using drier lint, make a ball about the size of a golf ball and dip.
3) Break open a cardboard box and lay it flat. Cover it with foil or parchment paper. Put the wax dipped starters on the foil and let them dry. Once the wax has had time to harden use a scrapper or spatula to break them free. Bag or box the cubes and store them in a cool area, away from direct sunlight or moisture.
To use the starters simply fill your chimney with charcoal place the starter on your grill grates and light one corner. Place the chimney over the lit starter and the coals will catch.
For long cooks
Part of the problem with charcoal is that it starts cold, heats up rapidly, hits a peak, and then slowly cools as the fuel is consumed.
But it is important to keep the temp of your grill or smoker constant. There are several clever solutions. The core concept of them all is that you put lit coals on top of unlit coals, or visa versa, or side by side, and the ignition of the new coals synchronizes with the death of old coals.
They work well with one noteworthy problem. Freshly lit coals put out a lot of smoke, and it is thick white smoke, not the thin blue smoke that makes the best flavor.
The Minion Method
The Minion Method came first. Named after Jim Minion, a caterer who invented the technique, you start by pouring a Weber chimney full of unlit coals (80 briquets) into the grill or smoker and bury about three chunks of wood in the pile. Then put 1/a Weber chimney (40 briquets) of hot coals on top of cold coals, and a lump of wood on top. The exact number of coals will vary depending on the brand you use, the smoker, and the weather. It is the standard technique now for the very popular Weber Smokey Mountain bullet smoker.
The fuse method
To light the fuse, known as the snake, C, or U method, you put the coals in a C or U shape, ignite one end, and walk away. It works remarkably well. Here is how it looks on a Weber Kettle or a bullet smoker.
Here is how it looks on a Backwoods Smoker, but it can be adapted to many others.
As you can see that I have divided the coal tray with two bricks. No special firebricks, just bricks. The coals are spread out around the U and there is wood scattered along the path. Hot coals lit in a chimney are poured in one end on top of a wood chunk and the door is closed.
Flint and Steel
Flint is a material that many survivalists carry with them to create fires with steel. Steel, under high amounts of pressure, heats up and can be used as a fire starter.
Using a sharp edge of a piece of flint, survivalists can hit steel in a way that creates a small spark. Holding this over some type of tinder can lead to the beginning of a fire.
Flint and steel are great to pack as a fire starter because they are simple and require little maintenance. Neither object is likely to be ruined by water or non-effective in the cold weather or strong winds.
It is a durable option than many survivalist rely on as their main source of fire. Flint and steel can be rendered useless, however, if a dry and effective source of tinder material is unavailable.
Flint and steel creates a quick spark, not a lasting flame like some of the other options available.
Another fire starter option, similar to flint and steel, is a magnesium block. Tiny pieces of magnesium make for a great tinder, so many survivalists carry blocks of it with a small rod of flint glued to one of the edges.
With a knife, flecks of magnesium can be scraped into a small pile of another type of tinder. Then, the steel knife can be scraped against the flint to create the initial spark. The magnesium is likely to catch fire quicker than just the pile of tinder alone.
The only inconvenience with magnesium is that a knife or metal striker is necessary for use. If lost without one, the block becomes fairly useless.
Lighters are a more common and simpler fire starter that many survivalists carry with them. Lighters use a spark-wheel made of steel and a small flint to create a spark, and then produce a flame with fuel.
Lighters are the only option out of these four fire starters that can be used with just one hand. Although the possibility of running out of fuel exists, lighters typically allow for 3,000 lights and many survivalists pack several at a time.
One problem with lighters is that they can be damaged by water. Often, the lighter will eventually dry out and become functional again, but this could create a problem if the fire is needed immediately.
Many survivalists choose matches as their preferred fire starter. Survival matches are much more durable than standard matches, and are usually made to be waterproof.
Most waterproof match cases can hold between 20-40 matches, far less than the 3,000 uses a lighter would yield. However, matches are the most simple fire starters and so they have less ways to become defective. With less parts that can break, matches can be very dependable.
You definitely don’t need a fire starter to light your campfire, but if you’re dealing with wet wood or extreme conditions, it can sure make the process a lot easier. After researching 20 starters and burning five of them, we found that Instafire’s Fire Starter pouches are the best tool for getting a fire going. The material lights quickly, burns hotter than anything else we tested, and stays lit for long enough to get a fire roaring.
Instafire Fire Starter consists of wood, rock, and wax. It doesn’t put out any harmful chemicals when it burns. The pouches come in a set of 30, and each one contains enough to get four fires going—meaning that one purchase could help you start 120 fires. The envelope is waterproof, too, so it’s a good pick for camping or emergencies.
Weber Lighter Cubes are well-regarded and among the most affordable of the starters we tested. They come in a pack of 2and aren’t individually wrapped, so you’ll have to repackage them if you want to take a few camping. These cubes are great for getting charcoal going (their original purpose) at home, and they also burn hot and long.
Who should get this
Plenty of people might scoff at the idea of using fire starters. In fact, many of the experts we interviewed did! With a little know-how, it’s not that tough to get a fire going from scratch—but as Terry L. Fossum, scoutmaster, outdoor expert, and cast member of the reality survival show
A packet of Instafire can start up to four fires.
Depending on the number of packets you buy at once, Instafire costs a little over a dollar per unit, or as little as 25¢ per fire if you use a pouch to start four fires. That’s certainly more expensive than our runner-up, but we think it’s a reasonable price, especially because this isn’t a product you’re likely to use on a regular basis.
The company claims its starter burns on snow, ice, and even water. We were able to confirm that last bit by floating some of the material in a bowl of water and setting it aflame—it burned without issue.
Flaws but not dealbreakers
You have no way to reseal the Instafire pouch once you’ve opened it, so if you don’t use all of the fire starter before moving on, you risk spilling the contents. The packet is also physically larger than anything else we tested, but it’s pretty flat, so it shouldn’t be too obtrusive in most bags.
Weber’s Lighter Cubes cost significantly less than the Instafire pouches and are just about as effective, if not more so. The one drawback to these cubes, however, is that they don’t come individually wrapped, making them more difficult to pack. Beyond that, they’re a great pick for use at home, where you don’t need to worry about transporting them, or if you’re willing to split them up and pack them into bags yourself.
The cubes come in a blister pack of 2You can poke out as many cubes as you need at a time, but we found that the foil isn’t especially strong, so you may end up tearing open more than you intend if you’re not careful. The cubes are waxy and white, measuring roughly an inch square. Weber’s instructions (specifically aimed at lighting charcoal) say to use two or three at a time. Following that guideline, we lit three cubes in our test. They burned for a longer time than any other starter, lasting minutes, 50 seconds, with the heat reaching 89degrees Fahrenheit.
Weber doesn’t make any claims about waterproofing, and the blister pack doesn’t seem to be watertight. If you were to repack the cubes yourself, you may have good luck in keeping them dry, but there are no promises as with the Instafire starter.
The best way to pack these cubes up is to toss them into an airtight container, such as a zip-top bag or plasticware. If you’re camping or otherwise going somewhere they might get wet, make sure the seal is tight so you don’t limit their efficacy.
In our tests, the EZ Fire Firestarter packaging took multiple attempts to light. Once the starter got going, it put out a lot of black smoke. It left behind a glossy residue, as well as some of the plastic packaging.
Of all the starters in our test group, Ultimate Survival Technologies’s WetFire Tinder takes the most work to start up, because it requires that you scrape some shavings off first. The task isn’t difficult, but it is an extra step. In our tests, once it was going, it burned the coolest (43degrees Fahrenheit), and it lasted for only minutes, 1seconds, the shortest amount of time in our lineup.
By any measure, the Survive Outdoors Longer All-Weather Fire Cubes were the most expensive starters per unit that we tested. In our trials, they burned for about 40 seconds longer than the Instafire pouches, but about 100 degrees cooler. We were a bit thrown off by the instructions, which didn’t clearly indicate whether we were supposed to light the wrapper.
Use what you like and practice with what you have.
With so many fire starting options, it can be overwhelming as to which you should pick for each situation. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each fire starting method so you are better educated to figure out what will work for you.
Bic Plastic Lighter
Smoker or not, having a Bic Lighter on you (even in your Primary EDC) can come in handy in many situations.
Under ideal conditions, a Bic Lighter can light upwards of 3,000 fires (counting a short flame burst as a light). Simply, it’s a small plastic container filled with pressurized butane gas. The gas stays pressurized inside the lighter until it turns from gas to liquid by opening the valve. Using your thumb to also rotate a wheel, you create a spark. The spark combined with the gas creates a flame.
Matches are a classic and reliable way to start a fire.
Invented in England during the early 1800s, the first wood kitchen matches were named “Lucifers” due to the lighting power they came with. They have changed over the years to become much safer, but it’s also diminished their lighting power.
The term “kitchen matches” is a fairly generic term as there are couple types. It includes:
EXOTAC’s Matchcap XL is designed to keep UCO Stormproof Matches dry and accessible.
UCO’s Stormproof matches take the kitchen match to a different level. A chemical on the match head makes it easy to ignite and is extended about halfway down the match body, which allows it to burn regardless of the elements (even underwater).
There are many different brands and variations of ferro rods, so finding one that you personally prefer can take time. Here is Light My Fire’s Swedish FireSteel 2.0 Scout in red and Solo Scientific’s Aurora Fire Starter in black.
When struck, a ferro rod can spark as hot as 3000-5000 degrees Fahrenheit, which can ignite a dry pile of tinder quickly. Shavings of magnesium are created with a scraping motion which also lights the savings, creating very hot sparks.
Shop Ferro Rods
Easily looked over as a good back-up fire starting method, candles can have a place in your EDC. They are dependent on being lit by one of the methods above but once they are lit, but can provide much needed assistance.
Bushcraft Knife VS Pocket Knife VS Survival Knife
Pocket knives come in the foldable type and are generally smaller in size than the other two knives listed here. You can easily put it in your pocket and whip it out for general, everyday tasks.
Survival knives have fixed blades and are bigger than pocket knives. Like a pocket knife, they are reliable for a wide variety of everyday tasks. Survival knives are considered as the jack of all trades; they can be employed to cut into thick materials, pry open doors and break glass.
Bushcraft knives are primarily used for cutting wood. You can create sharp points to make stakes with it, feather with it and notch wood with it, among other things. Their defining characteristic is a shorter edge, which gives it more maneuverability than survival knives. You can prepare small traps and skin game with it along it the other wood-cutting tasks.
Hollow grinds are excellent for skinning and dressing; a chisel grind type is fantastic for heavy woodcutting tasks such as drilling, batoning, chopping and cutting lumber. Some of the more popular blade grinds are the Scandi grind, flat grind and convex grind.
Ka-Bar BKBecker Campanion Knife with Fixed Blade
Con: The huge size may be a plus to some, but prove to be too unwieldy for others. Newbies can look to other products in this list.
11. GCS Custom Handmade Hammered DTool Steel Skinner Bushcraft Knife Knives Buffalo Hide Sheath 10
The leather sheath can be worn in a variety of ways. Wear it the regular way, or in a linear fashion along the belt line. Fasten it on a bag strap, or on a MOLLE-type webbing if you prefer.
12. Aitor AI1612Zero Survival Bushcraft Fixed Blade Knife
Out of nowhere comes the underdog of the list- the ESEE Camp-Lore RBis a product of survival expert Reuben Bolieu. The carbon blade sports a Scandi grind and was created to be the definitive solution to basic bushcrafting skills
14. Morakniv Bushcraft Fixed Blade Knife with Sandvik Stainless Steel Blade, Orange, 0.125/4.3-Inch
Versus the Mora Companion
The Companion is a great buy for bushcrafters, but those who want more heft and thicker blades can turn to the Orange for unbeatable value. The blade thickness lets you do more.
15. Condor Tool and Knife Bushlore 4.375-Inch Drop Point Blade, Walnut Handle with Leather Sheath (Plain)
Condor Knife and Tool is for the budget-minded bushcrafter. This product can surprise the user by having a lot more quality under its belt in spite of the low entry cost! You get a 107high-carbon, blasted satin finish blade that looks great and works even better. Rounding out the package is a wooden handle and full tang blade with a Scandi grind.
One of the oldest forms of fire starting is by rubbing two objects together that create enough friction to generate heat. Once there is enough heat, combustion will produce fire. Examples of wood friction fire starters include: bowdrills, hand drills, fire plows and fire saws. They can be made with very few tools and natural resources, but they require a lot of practice to master the technique.
If you’re going to bring lighters as your primary fire starter be sure to bring extra. Also, consider investing in waterproof and windproof lighters to ensure they’ll work well against the elements. They’re lightweight and portable, but you run the risk of running out of fuel.
Firesteel and Scraper
This fire starter set includes a metal scraper and a tubed piece of steel or magnesium. The original scrapers were made out of flint, but in modern versions, manufacturers use ferrocerium alloy. When you run the scraper down the tube, it will create a spark to help you start a fire. They’re not only lightweight and easy to carry, but they also work when wet. Many firesteel and scrapers are advertised to work 12,000+ strikes before needing replacement.
They’re made with a thick-walled tube with one opening. After placing tinder inside the tube, you insert the rod inside to compress the air, heat up the tinder, and cause it to ignite. Then you simply take out the burning tinder and use it to start a larger fire. Modern fire pistons are made out of aluminum and have rubber gaskets to ensure an airtight seal. They’re lightweight and portable, but they can take a bit of practice to strike the piston properly and take out the tinder quickly. It’s also important to note that it works the best with char cloth.
Steel Wool and 9V Battery
When you touch both battery poles using steel wool, a spark will ignite and easily start a fire. This fire starter method requires a small amount of fine steel wool (just enough to cover the battery poles). Batteries can add weight to your pack, but they’re relatively small and compact.
When out in the wilderness, you must be prepared for all of the elements. One of the most difficult elements to work with when starting fires is moisture. Choosing waterproof starters is the safest choice; another option is keeping them in watertight containers.
If you’re investing in a fire starter for survival purposes, it’s important to find one that will not wear out quickly. For instance, ferro rods will last you thousands of fires, whereas lighters and matches will be used up more quickly.
Survival Spark Magnesium Survival Fire Starter
Survival Spark’s fire starter set include a magnesium fire starter rod, a large scraper, compass, 150-decibel emergency whistle and lanyard to keep it all attached. The magnesium rod is windproof, weather resistant and can strike up to 15,000 times before it needs to be replaced.
All you need to do is use the serrated side of the scraper to scrape a bit of magnesium from the rod onto your tinder, then strike along the rod until a spark lands on the magnesium shavings and ignites a flame. Be sure to strip off the protective layer of paint on the striker before use.
Light My Fire Swedish Firesteel 2.0 Army Fire Starter
The 2.0 Army model has a stainless steel striker with an ergonomic handle and a rod made out of a pyrophoric alloy that includes iron, magnesium, lanthanum and cerium. It’s made to last approximately 12,000 strikes and can create 2,980 degrees Celsius/5,400 degrees Fahrenheit sparks in any weather conditions and at any altitude.
It even works when wet and can make sparks bright enough to be used as an emergency signal. Also, included is a built-in emergency whistle. >>>Click to see the latest price for Light My Fire Swedish FireSteel 2.0 Army<<<
Se All-weather Emergency 2-in-Fire Starter
SE’s 2-in-fire starts comes with a black flint striking rod, a serrated metal striker, a solid compact magnesium bar, mini compass and detachable silver ball chain link. You simply scrap magnesium onto your tinder, angle the flint over the pile, and forcefully use your striker along the flint to create a spark onto the tinder pile.
This fire starter set is lightweight, easy to use, and small enough to fit in your pocket. Not only that but it’s waterproof, weatherproof and built to last. >>>Check out what other customers say about the SE FS37All-Weather Emergency 2-IN-Fire Starter<<< Überleben Zünden Traditional Bushcraft Fire Starter Überleben’s traditional bushcraft fire starter includes a ferrocerium rod, scraper and military 550 paracord lanyard for easy carrying. The scraper even has a serrated portion, designed to scrap magnesium.It also features a 100% handmade hardwood handle with a natural textured grip. It will work effectively for up to 12,000 strikes and can create sparks of up to 3000 degrees Celsius/5,500 degrees Fahrenheit.
This fire starter can ignite sparks in any weather condition and at any altitude. Make sure that you scrape off the protective coating first so that it will work effectively.
Dryer Lint & Toilet Paper Roll
You know that fuzzy pile of lint you extract from your dryer after every use to prevent a spontaneous combustion? Yah, that fuzzy stuff that wrecks havoc when it sticks to your freshly washed black clothes. Rather than throwing it away in the garbage, save it in an airtight container or Ziplock bag. This is an incredible fire starter and when paired with a cardboard paper towel roll, can save the day at your camp.
Simply stuff some dryer lint inside the cardboard toilet paper roll and place it in your fire. This is a great alternative for kindling and keeps the lint and toilet paper roll out of your household waste.
Pine Cone & Dried Wax
While the pine cones are drying, you can melt some wax in a double boiler. This is a great way to put old candles to good use and clean up your junk drawers.
Once the pine cones are dried, using a pair tongs, simply dip the pine cones into the wax so that they are more or less covered. Let the excess wax drip into the pot before placing the wax covered pine cone on some foil to dry. Wine Corks Soaked in Alcohol
This is a great activity for after a large party or gathering at your home. Put all those corks to good use.
First of all thanks for reading my article to the end! I hope you find my reviews listed here useful and that it allows you to make a proper comparison of what is best to fit your needs and budget. Don’t be afraid to try more than one product if your first pick doesn’t do the trick.
Most important, have fun and choose your Fire Starters wisely! Good luck!
So, TOP3 of Fire Starters
- №1 — Fire & Charcoal Starters
- №2 — Amazon’s Best Natural Fire Starter: Shefko EasyFire Fire Starter w/ 30-min. Burn-time Guarantee Clean
- №3 — InstaFire Granulated Fire Starter