For any wilderness excursion, your ability to start a fire will be a key component to your survival. All fire starters have their pros and cons, but the best fire starter for you will be the one that’s suitable for your outdoor lifestyle.
This article will give an overview of the different types of fire starters, factors to consider when choosing fire starters, and reviews of the various products you’ll find on the market.
Different Types of Fire Starter
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.
They’re lightweight, easy to use and waterproof versions are widely available. Even though they’re one of the most portable fire starters, you could be in trouble if you run out before your outdoor excursion ends.
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.
Factors to Consider
When looking at fire starters for survival, it’s important to find one that is lightweight and portable for outdoor excursions. Always consider how much space you have to work with and how your fire starter will fit into the equation.
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.
Ease of Use
Some fire starters are more difficult to master than others, so keep in mind the level of difficulty you’re willing to work with. Wood friction methods such as bow drills have larger learning curves compared to using a flint and steel or matches.
Now it’s time to take a look at some of the fire starters you’ll find on the market.
Survival Spark Magnesium Survival Fire Starter
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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.
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Light My Fire Swedish Firesteel 2.0 Army Fire Starter
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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.
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Se All-weather Emergency 2-in-1 Fire Starter
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SE’s 2-in-1 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.
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Überleben Zünden Traditional Bushcraft Fire Starter
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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.
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Holland Lightning Strike Fire Starter
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The Lightning Strike fire starter includes a replaceable ferrocerium rod, sparking steel and an aluminum tube that houses tinder in a capped compartment. All you have to do is insert the steel in the milled slot of the tube and strike the ferro rod perpendicular across the surface and toward the tube’s open end. It’s easy to use and creates huge plumes of sparks at the end of the tube. The housing measures 7.5 inches long and weighs 4.5 ounces. Also, included is a bit of tinder to get you started.
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When it comes to finding the best fire starter, be sure to assess your outdoor lifestyle and survival needs. This will help you determine what kind of fire starter will be the most suitable. However, regardless of which type of fire starter you choose, it’s important to find a high-quality starter that will stand up against the outdoor elements and various weather conditions.