Easy to use, camping and emergency fire starter

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How do these compare with matches in a pill bottle and wax & sawdust fire starter stick?

Or, more to the point, perhaps, a handful of Bic lighters. Throw in a long-nose ‘barbecue lighter’ for maximum convenience and a Bic or two in everyone’s pocket for maximum backup, and it still weighs less than the magnesium block/mischmetal rod/sticks of fatwood setup.

And is a much, much easier way to light a fire.

Seriously, as someone who grew up teaching survival classes in the Wretched Desert, I’ve never quite understood the mania for sparky ‘survival’ firemaking tools. What is it about being outdoors that makes people crave such exotic firemaking methods?


Sound weird, works great. Clothes drier filter lint as tinder.


Sometimes you throw things like this in a corner of your pack with the awareness it doesn’t weigh much, doesn’t need batteries and won’t ever run out of fuel. I have some matches in there too, but definitely a sparky-thing and a knife.

I like something like this, better - it’s a combination flint/match on a keychain, you put some flammable fuel inside it, strike the flint “match head” and voila, nice little actual flame, instead of trying to deal with sparks. Really more of an emergency tool, though, than a camping tool, and does require that you keep it filled. But it’s only $1.44!


Gasoline & a zippo!

Well, yeah, but why use it all the time? I mean, he says he wore out his previous magnesium block. And… fatwood sticks?

Backup is one thing, but lighting a routine campfire with a spark-stick/magnesium-block is just silly. It’s mall-ninja gear for people who don’t do (or already have sufficient) knives and guns.

How do these compare with matches in a pill bottle and wax & sawdust fire starter stick?

It’s stamped with the name Bear Grylls and is made from non-biodegradable plastic.

Sound weird, works great. Clothes drier filter lint as tinder.

I’ll go one better on that. We mix up a batch of drier lint and melted paraffin. Plop it in paper egg cartons (the half with the individual cups for the eggs). Break apart when cooled and you’ve got 12 handy fire starters that will not fail even in damp or windy conditions.


Nails it. Outdoor educator here: don’t pack one of these in a survival kit. Get two Bics, put a piece of tape over the little trigger, and pop it in a tiny HDPE lab bottle. For tinder, carry a candle stub: every plant burns with melted wax on it.

If you need fire in a hurry, you’re not going to want to dope around with Sparky McGryllis’s Fancy Flint.

Have you ever used one of those chintzy little bastards? I have one right here and it’s a downright PITA to get lit.

I’m going to stick with a bic or my magnesium/striker combo similar to the BG unit above. They’re every bit as easy to use and run about $3.

This one’s two bucks!

EDIT: This is the one I use, because it has both spark and fuel, unlike the fancy expensive unit above. Very handy, and $3-4.

The “Bear Grylls” model? Does that mean a member of the production crew actually makes the fire, while you catch a nap at a nearby hotel?


strike anywhere matches in a film canister is what we used in our scout troop

If this is appealing to you google “mischmetal”. They’re like one of these magnesium rods on steroids.

I wouldn’t use one as a primary starter, but matches can get wet, bics can lose fuel, and plastic lighters just fail. A sparky spark is a great plan B.

Vegetable oil is my starter of choice, but I should try parafin or bees wax. The dryer lint parafin idea is outstanding.

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Ha, same here. When’s the last time you saw a film canister in the wild?

All the hep kids today would be using The Boing Boing Store Scarborough Fair Jar for a waterproof container.

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Sorry, all I read from that was:
Well sized
fat wood

Yes, I’m 12.


I use a firesteel (the one from Light My Fire is smaller and lighter than the Bear Grylls-branded one), and carry a little Altoids tin as a tinderbox. It contains a couple of Vaseline-impregnated cotton balls, a wisp of dryer lint, and some amadou mushroom (which will catch a spark, or is also useful for carrying a hot coal).

All the people recommending cigarette lighters have never tried to work one in deep winter in the mountains in the US Northeast. Unless you’ve been carrying it in an inside pocket and been careful to keep it bone dry, either the butane will have no pressure (hence no flame), or the wheel will freeze.

Also, a firesteel works when soaking wet, and the Vaseline-impregnated cotton lights when soaking wet. This combination came in handy last fall when I fell in near-freezing whitewater, nine miles (14 km) from the nearest road, and needed a fire right away.

Using tinder from my box, or using the firesteel to light my alcohol-burining stove, I very seldom need to strike more than one spark.


I think Kennykb has provided all the valuable info I need here, so I’m just gonna help by giving a clue as to what music you should listen to when using such tools.