The emotional torment of needing to light a fire in cold, damp and windy conditions is the kind of thing you wouldn’t wish upon your worst enemy. Without the right survival tools, know-how and grit, getting a fire going can be one of the most testing yet essential outdoor activities you’re likely to endure. However, a simple bit of preparation in the form of one of the best fire starters, and you’ll likely never need to experience this torment for yourself.
“Fire starter” is a broad term that means different things to different people. To outdoorsmen and survival experts, fire starters are a specific type of tool, which may be made flint or similar metal materials. Flint fire starters have been used for hundreds of years, and it has several advantages over modern inventions like matches or lighters. A flint firestarter doesn’t need to be charged or refueled, and you don’t need to worry about getting it wet. In fact, its simplicity is what makes it such an effective piece of survival gear and an essential component in the best emergency kits.
However, to the average person, a fire starter instead refers to a type of kindling, which can be used to start a fire. While these types of fire starters can be useful in the outdoors or survival situations, they’re more likely to be used in your home’s fireplace or backyard fire pit. Usually, these fire starters are made from some type of compressed wood product and make it easy for virtually anyone to get a big fire going. Below, we’ll cover both types of fire starters, plus some basic tips on starting a fire from scratch.
Whether you’re going on an expedition into the wilderness or trying to light a roaring backyard bonfire, we’ve got all the tools you need right here.
Best Fire Starter Logs
These types of fire starters come in many shapes and sizes: logs, cubes, sticks, ropes and more. Larger fire logs are designed to be used in indoor and outdoor fireplaces, while smaller fire cubes are designed for use inside barbecue grills or wood-burning stoves. Virtually all fire starters of this type are made from compressed wood and paper materials held together by wax. The best fire starters don’t just light quickly, but they may also be water-resistant, capable of starting a fire even in mildly wet conditions.
So put down the newspaper and get ready to light a fire using these easy-to-use fire starter logs.
1. Duraflame Fire Starter Logs
Duraflame is probably the best-known brand of fire starters designed for home use, and they make it simple to start a roaring fire in any wood-burning fireplace. This pack of 12 Duraflame Firestart logs are perfect for both indoor and outdoor use. Simply place them in the middle of a pile of firewood and light the wrapper. Once lit, these firelogs will burn for up to 30 minutes.
2. Black Beard Fire Starter Rope
Black Beard fire starters come in the shape of a coiled rope, and this product offers a lot more than meets the eye. Inside, there’s enough combustible rope to start more than 50 individual fires. Each rope is made of 33 strands, each of which can burn for 4.5 hours at a time. On top of that, the rope is completely weatherproof and has no expiration date, which makes it perfect for camping and emergency kits. Finally, these fire starter ropes are made in the USA using domestically-sourced materials.
3. Melt Fire Starters
One package of Melt fire starters will let you start indoor and outdoor fires all year long. Each fire starter squares burns for up to 10 minutes, and they’re easy to light with matches and lighters. The best fire starters will let you build a fire even in wet conditions, and these squares are totally water-resistant and weatherproof. Use as many fire starters as you need to get your fire going, and since there are 160 squares in each package, you won’t run out for a long time to come.
4. Lightning Nuggets Economy Box
You may have seen fire starters shaped like logs, sticks or cubes before, but Lightning Nuggets have a more unique design. Each of these bowl-shaped fire starters is made from clean-burning pine wood, and a single nugget produces a surprisingly strong flame. Lighting Nuggets come in boxes of 100 or 200 and have earned thousands of positive reviews from Amazon customers.
Best Fire Starter Tools
The best fire starters cut out one of the hardest parts of creating fire — the spark. In fact, these fire starters give you a way to achieve sparks with very little effort, no fuel or electricity required. This handy shortcut can be a reliable way to start a fire if you camp regularly. It could also potentially be the difference between success and failure in unexpected life-or-death situations.
Below, you’ll find a list of the 11 best fire starter tools. We’ve included traditional fire starters, wearable options and those included as part of a survival set. Most options can be used with regularity or kept for unexpected survival situations. The right one for you will depend on your individual needs.
1. BayiteSurvival Ferrocerium Drilled Flint Fire Starter
The BayiteSurvival Ferrocerium Drilled Flint Fire Starter is an intelligently designed device that’s easily stored, transported and, most importantly of all, makes starting a fire simple. The striker and rod are joined by a nine-foot paracord which offers good grip during use and keeps the two necessary items attached. The Bayite Striking Edges Striker-Pro Striker is also constructed from a tool-grade steel which helps to maximize the amount of 5,500-degree sparks created with every strike. This is a great gift idea for adventurous partners and friends and comes backed by over 3,500 five-star ratings from Amazon users.
2. SE FS374 Full Magnesium Body Fire Starter
At under $10, the SE FS374 Full Magnesium Body Fire Starter is a budget-friendly option to buy, throw in your kit and forget about until the time it’s called upon. This fire starter is available in either silver or black and includes a small, detachable ball chain, which can be used for tethering the fuel bar to the striker in order to prevent accidental separation or loss. The fuel bar is made from solid magnesium fuel with flint and measures three by one inch. The starter is also waterproof and weatherproof and has a five-star rating from over 3,700 Amazon users.
3. Zippo Emergency Fire Kit
The Zippo Emergency Fire Kit includes both the initial lighting fuel along with a method to light it. Once lit, this kit gives you around five minutes to get the rest of your wood burning. The kit also comes in a cylindrical canister which houses the five lightweight, paraffin wax-coated cotton tinders as well as the Zippo flint spark wheel under the screw top lid. This watertight closure ensures everything remains dry, even in bad weather, while the built-in lanyard hole offers an easy way to store or transport your kit.
4. Atomic Bear Paracord Bracelet
Try this Atomic Bear Paracord Bracelet for a more convenient way to keep your fire starter close at hand. Built into the device, which is made of 12 feet of military-grade paracord, you’ll find a powerful whistle, a compass, a strong paracord and a fire starter. The bracelet’s length can be adjusted between seven to nine inches, while the buckle provides a secure hold when on your wrist. This makes a great gift idea for friends who hunt, fish, camp and like to explore the outdoors.
5. The Atomic Bear Fire Starter Survival Tool
In addition to having a way of starting your fire, it’s always important to have the right fuel to get it going. This Atomic Bear Fire Starter Survival Tool means you’ll never be left wanting as it comes with three, 13-inch hemp paraffin-infused ropes. You’ll also find a handy fire-starting tube, which helps to keep your fingers clear of the fire and provides a simple way to extinguish the starter once the rest has caught. This compact and lightweight kit is a smart addition to any outdoor survival kit.
6. überleben Zünden Fire Starter
When you picture a fire starter in your head, you probably imagine something exactly like this überleben Zünden Fire Starter. It’s available in three different sizes, ranging from the traditional 5/16 to the fatty ½ inch. Choose the size depending on your needs. The rod sports a beautiful hardwood handle which attaches to the accompanying lanyard, meaning it can be worn as a necklace. Additionally, the striker incorporates a map scale, a bottle opener, a tinder scraper and a hex wrench.
7. The Friendly Swede Magnesium Flint Fire Starter
At three inches long, each one of the three included starters in The Friendly Swede Magnesium Flint Fire Starter Pack require minimal space in backpacks or pockets when being stored or transported. This fire starter is reliable in all weather conditions and at high altitudes, making it great for campers and adventurers. You’ll also find built-in, first-stage tinder in the form of the magnesium bar, cutting out the need for initial fuel. Furthermore, this handy tool features a bottle opener built into the striker and comes with chains to hold everything together.
8. Bushcraft Survival Ferro Rod Fire Starter Kit
The Bushcraft Survival Ferro Rod Fire Starter Kit comes with a lighting rod, striker and starting fuel in the form of a wax-infused natural hemp cord, which can be lit in all conditions. The ferro rod, which is composed of high-quality ferrocerium and magnesium, allows you to create 5,500°F sparks to instantly light the cord when you’re short of natural fire starting materials. It also sports a handcrafted, cherry wood handle for comfort during use, while the striker doubles as a multitool with its toothed edge, ruler, bottle opener and hex wrench.
9. überleben Hexå Fire Starter
By utilizing a hexagonal-shaped design, the überleben Hexå Fire Starter offers six individual sides with a flat profile for the striker to come into contact with. The result is an increased production of molten ferrocerium in a 5,500ºF shower, which increases the likelihood of lighting a fire, even in the most unpleasant weather. This reliable lighting source has also outperformed many of its competitors, while the supplied full-grain leather lanyard keeps the striker nearby and offers an easy way to carry both pieces of the kit.
10. KOSIN Emergency 17-in-1 Survival Kit
The KOSIN Emergency 17-in-1 Survival Kit should be your go-to kit for when things go south. Not only does it include a fire lighter and striker for all your fire-lighting needs, it also comes with 16 other pieces to ensure you’re ready for any eventuality. Other high-quality items in the kit include a tactical pen, a tactical flashlight, a multitool and a survival bracelet. This impressively reviewed kit is supplied in its own storage case and makes a great gift idea for the adventurous type in your life.
11. überleben Kräftig Fire Starter
At eight inches long, the überleben Kräftig Fire Starter is the longest fire starter on our list. The drilled ferro rod will provide you with over 20,000 strikes to create a shower of 5,500ºF (3,000ºC) molten sparks. It also provides you with the ability to light fuel in any weather or high altitude. You’ll find that the accompanying striker is tethered to the rod using a shock-cord lanyard and sports a hex wrench and a bottle opener built within, too.
How to Build a Campfire
No matter whether you’re an experienced outdoorsman or new to the art of fire building, one of most important things to know are the steps for building a fire. Even with the best fire starter in your hands, the wrong approach may still result in a lack of fire, which is why you should memorize these important fire-building principles.
1. Choose Your Location – Start by identifying the site where you want to light your fire. If the weather is rainy or windy, aim for dry and covered. Conversely, if the area is bone dry, ensure your location won’t allow your fire to spread uncontrollably.
2. Collect Your Fuel – The next step is to ensure you have enough fuel to burn. While creating a spark is key to the lighting process, without fuel to burn, your fire will die before you’ve had a chance to use it. If using collected wood, aim for a good mix of both small and larger sticks as well as a handful of tinder (smaller sticks or dry leaves) for starting.
3. Construct Your Fire – After you’re happy with the amount of wood available, construct your fire. The most common structure for a stand-alone fire is the teepee style. Place your fire-lighting tinder in the center and create a teepee structure around it using larger sticks, allowing access to the middle for lighting. It’s a good idea to begin with smaller sticks and work your way up once lit.
4. Light It – Light the tinder in the middle using your preferred method. Common options include fire starters, cigarette lighters and compact butane lighters. If you’re struggling to reach the tinder, it’s possible to light it outside and place it back in once ignited. Allow your fire to grow to a self-sustained level before adding too many additional, larger sticks. Otherwise, you run the risk of suffocating it.
5. Put It Out – Once you are finished using your fire, it’s equally important to ensure it is out. If you have water at hand, you can douse it to wet the embers. Listen for the hissing sound to cease as a sign your fire is dying. Once you believe it is out, you can use your hand just above the fire (Not touching!) to check if you were successful.