Types of Fire Starters to Stock
Let’s face it, not many of us could rub two sticks together and start a fire very well. In addition to that, we may not always have lighter fluid, matches, or fuel to get our fires going hot enough to keep warm or to cook with. With that being said, you need to have items to start the initial spark and items that burn easily. That’s why today I am going to talk about different types of fire starters you should consider stocking. In case you missed this post, My Favorite Emergency Fuel To Store For Survival
Please stock: A Fire Chimney, Waterproof Matches, and InstaFire.
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Types of Fire Starters
There are 2 main types of fire starters: the tinder and the spark. Within those categories, there are several options you can try. Below, I am going to break down the different items you should have to start a spark and keep the fire going!
What You Need for a Spark
If you don’t know how to rub two sticks together to get a spark, you will want to stock up on items that can help you out! Here’s what I suggest stocking:
#1 Waterproof Matches
It’s no surprise that matches would be first on the list. You can buy them by the hundreds and hopefully you’ll only need one if you’re good at it. You can store regular matches, but I would suggest stocking waterproof matches. In addition to buying waterproof matches, make sure you put them in different places. That way if you lose them, you will have others. Matches can be easy to lose. Waterproof Matches
Lighters are quick and easy to use. Stocking up on them is a must! You can stock a variety of different kinds of lighters, including cheap disposable lighters, windproof refillable candle lighters, or a torch lighter. If you get refillable ones, don’t forget to buy extra butane fuel for them. Lighters
#3 Firesteel and Scraper-Fire Starters
Let’s say your matches were ruined and you’re all out of lighter fluid…. A firesteel and scraper can help you start more fires than you may even need. It is a tubed piece of metal usually made from steel or magnesium that will create a spark when the scraper is rubbed against it. It even works when it’s wet. There are several different kinds you can find on Amazon. Here are some of my favorites:
#4 9V Battery and Steel Wool
Did you know that if you take a 9-volt battery and touch both poles to steel wool that it will catch fire? The finer the wool you get, the better it works. And, you only need a small amount of wool to start a fire! 9V Battery and Steel Wool
I would suggest having all of these spark starting tools. If you have a little of everything, you won’t ever have to worry how you will start a fire.
Types of Tinder Fire Starters
In addition to creating a spark, you need something that will catch fire quickly and easily. There are a variety of fire starters out there, some you probably throw away on a daily basis. Here are a few that you should stock:
You don’t have to go out and buy tinder. In fact, there’s a variety of things you can use right around your house. These include:
- Dryer lint
- Old Man’s Beard (similar to moss)
- Cedar or Juniper bark
- Dried out wet wipes
- Dry trimmings
- Paper of any kind
- Dry grass, leaves, or pine needles
InstaFire is a safe and effective fire starter using wood pellets, paraffin wax, and volcanic rock. It has a 15-minute burn time and a shelf life of 30-years! I personally stock up on Instafire.
As shown in the picture below, I just had to go outside and take a picture of the InstaFire in action. We rarely get snow here in Southern Utah, if ever. Well, I raced outside with Mark to tear the package open and we sprinkled it on the snow that had accumulated on our yard gravel. We lit the granules and BAM, we had some flames. You can buy this stuff in packages or in the bucket. It’s awesome!
Although these are bigger than small packs of kindling, a Starterlogg is good to have on hand. It produces a decent size fire with no kindling needed. And, you can split it up into different sizes, depending on your need. StarterLogg
This fire starter burns super hot, even in wet conditions. Magnesium bags are great to have, especially if you are in a situation where you don’t have natural kindling like dry leaves, grass, or bark. Keep this on hand. Magnesium Bags
Shefko EasyFire Natural Fire Starters
Made from cedar sawdust and highly refined wax, Easyfire Fire starters are all-natural with no residues or toxic chemical waste. This means your food will taste natural. A 36-pack of these can start 144 fires! Shefko EasyFire Natural Fire Starters
Keep this in your house, garage, or barn so it stays dry. Buy 10-pounds of this kindling right from Amazon. This is the perfect fire starter if you aren’t able to find any dry wood around your home. Fatwood
Other Items Needed for Fires
In addition to fire starters, you will want to make sure you are stocking up on other items for your fires. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Charcoal is a must if you plan on starting fires for cooking.
- Dry logs are great for maintaining a fire. Keep them covered or in a building.
- A fire pit can be used to cook on as well as keep you warm.
- A folding campfire grill makes it easier to cook your food over an open flame, especially if you don’t have a large grill.
- Cast Iron camping tripods are an excellent way to cook soups and stews over an open fire.
Related: 9 Prepping Tips for Outdoor Survival
Types of Fire Starters to Stock
This one was built and designed by Matt:
This one was designed and built by Leanne (instructions included)
Instructions by Leanne,
The two uprights and the crosspiece are my tripods set up for hanging multiple pots on it. It can also be set up as an actual tripod but can only hang one pot from it that way. Hanging from it are several S hooks for hanging the pots. On one of the uprights, there is a trivet that can be raised/lowered as needed. It is strong enough for a coffee pot to sit on it or I can hang a pot from it as well. On the left side, there is an iron rod that was split at the top into 4 horizontal arms to hang empty pots like my cast iron frying pan when not in use, pot holders, poker, cooking utensils, etc. The copper tube standing there is my blow tube if I need to get the fire heated up – Keeps me and my hair out of the flames! I just made it from a short piece of copper tubing, a cap that I drilled a hole in, and a reducer that I blow into. The fire pit itself is a propane tank that was cut in half the long way and welded together (perhaps 1/3 and 2/3. Many of the rendezvous I go to require the fire to be above ground due to fire hazards in the Pac NW! Oh, on the top part of the fire pit, there are several holes drilled along the bottom for air intake. They cannot be closed, though – would be nice then I could possibly “bank” my fire and have some coals in the mornings. Along the 2 sides of the fire pit are 4 uprights (2 per side with 2 rods going the length of the pit (1 per side). As you can see along the backside, there are rods on the horizontal rod. These can be turned up to fall across the fire pit to set pots on or to even grille meat. Then I can flip them off the backside to allow the fire free reign!
Being able to start a fire and keep it going are crucial in a disaster scenario. If you can’t keep a fire going, you won’t be able to cook food or keep yourself warm. Be sure to know how to use each item you stock up on. Figure out the best way for you to start a fire and stock those items. If you find a lighter and dryer lint is easiest, make sure you are stocking enough to start a fire anytime you need to. Remember, practice makes perfect. So, make sure you are practicing your fire starting skills and cooking over an open fire. May God bless this world, Linda
Copyright Images: Glowing Charcoal AdobeStock_236840010 by Peter
36 thoughts on “Types of Fire Starters to Stock”
I’m pretty convinced my tribe had a lot of lightening based on my stick rubbing attempts.
I store a 30gl can of charcoal, starter chimney and lighter fluid. I’ve got firesteels from keychains to packs as well as lighters laying everywhere or stored with candles etc.
My dryer lint is stored in toilet paper rolls and used in the fireplace. I leave the fire setup so the wife can just light the lint and walk away.
I’ve got a fire pit made of concrete blocks and surrounded by rocks from various places. I built a tripod to hang a lot from. It’s just one of many alternatives for cooking cause I like to eat.
At deer camp we use cattails for the fluff to catch spark or stinging nettle tops that are dried.
I collect fat wood when I go to eastern Oklahoma or kolorado but there’s none round here. I gotta get some more flint next time I take a trip too.
Hi Matt, oh I have seen firepits made with concrete blocks! I love them! The tripod is for sure a bonus. You know I love your comment about having the fire setup so your sweet wife can just light it!!!!!! I had to Google fatwood, I’ve never heard of it. Great tip! Stay safe, my friend, Linda
Would you post a picture of your fire pit tripod setup? Wanting to build fire pit, would love the cooking ability. Many thanks!
Hi BL, there isn’t a way to share pictures in the comments. Dang! Linda
Linda I’ll send ya a pic of you wanna post it to your FB
Hi Matt, thank you, I will share it on the post and Fb, thank you so much! Linda
Hi BL, give me a few minutes and I will post the picture of Matt and Leanne’s fire pits. Linda
Thanks so much. Or you can send to my email.
Hi BL, I will send it to your email. Linda
If you don’t mind the limitation of starting fires on sunny days only, remember magnifying lenses & mirrors.
We carry the biggest Fresnel lenses that we can stuff into our BoBs. They’re flat, thin, flexible, light weight, & pretty durable, especially if you protect them with a plastic wrapper when not in use.
Fresnel is French; it’s pronounced fray’ nel.
We stocked up on Fresnel lenses on flea-Bay some time back. Bigger is better, especially if the sky isn’t perfectly clear. Here in AZ we melted a small piece of lead in less than a minute using a lens about 10″ square. With a 2′ x 3′ lens we caught asphalt on fire.
BTW, carry these around carefully — you can create deep burns in skin if you don’t. Ask me how I know.
Another use is to make a very directional signalling source, if you know Morse code.
Still another use is making signs by wood-burning methods. Or graffiti…
Hi Gary, I need to go check the brand of lens I bought to start fires. Thank you so much for reminding all of us we need several ways to start a fire!! Great info!!! Linda
Fresnel is a category/design of lenses, not a brand. They’re a zone lens that’s made by subtracting all the bulk of the lens but leaving the surface/edge shape. That creates a lens that is flat instead of very thick (& heavy) in the middle — just great for a BoB.
Thanks for publishing your blog! We really look forward to reading each of them.
Hi Gary, oh thank you for sharing that with me. Thank you for your kind words, they mean so much to me. We all learn from each other, that’s for sure. Linda
Lint from your clothes dryer can be saved year round in the cardboard tubes from Toilet Paper Rolls. When I have a batch of full ones, I store them in a USED Gallon freezer or storage bag with the air sucked out via a simple USED straw.
Hi Benue, great idea about the gallon freezer bags! I love it! Linda
HEY! I’m old and I have a beard. You ain’t using it to start any fires!!!
Hi Karl, oh my gosh, now I have the giggles, LOL! No way would do that!! Linda
I make fire starters with cardboard egg cartons, sawdust, and then add melted wax. It seems I end up with a bunch of old candles that have lost their smell, tapers that broke or bent, etc. When I get a bunch I put one of the glass jar candles in hot water on the stove on simmer until the wax is melted. I throw in any candles that don’t have glass jars. We always have plenty of sawdust from our projects which I also use to store any tender bulbs that can’t handle the cold over the winter. I don’t use fire starters a lot so this provides me plenty and they are easy to store or take somewhere. Just rip off one of the egg sections as needed.
Hi Kay, my head is thinking about where I can get some sawdust. I may look at places where homes are being built and ask if I have some. I love this idea! Thank you, Linda
I do the same thing with egg cartons but use dryer lint and wax. Works really well.
Hi Leanne, I have to be careful because I live in the desert and my garage gets up to 110 degrees sometimes. The heat is rough on anything plastic let alone candles. Or items made with wax. Crazy living in the desert. Linda
I actually keep my firestarters in my extra bedroom! Doesn’t get so hot here where I live but still, wax gets really soft when it does get over 80F!!
Hi Leanne, I know about candles that melted in the summer, what a mess. Linda
If your local schools have wood shop class, or a maintenance facility that does wood working, ask them if they collect sawdust and what they do with it. You might be able to score free sawdust that way, since most modern wood shops have dust collection systems to reduce the fire hazard. I’m just not sure what most of them do with that collected sawdust….
Hi. DmWalsh, in Utah they stopped woodshop classes and Home Ec classes years ago. I feel it was short-sided because kids need to learn that and auto mechanics. But I’m not in charge. I’ve seen the sawdust at Home depot, they are awesome to e when I need something cut. Love that store! Linda
You can get sawdust at cabinet making shops but check home improvement stores too as they cut wood to sizes for people. You don’t need a lot.
Hi Kay, great tip!! I bet I can get some from Home Depot!! Linda
Since I do Mountain Man re-enactments (have for 35 years or so), I learned early on how to start a fire using flint and steel – flint rock and a steel striker. It does work better if you have not only dry tinder but also char cloth (I make my own with old t-shirts cut into small squares, then “burned” in a closed can on an open fire – the can has a very small hole in the top. I usually use an Altoid tin. Once the smoke comes out of the hole, take it off the fire and let it cool completely – DO NOT open while it is hot or the char cloth will disintegrate! I know this from experience!!).
So I have: matches, butane lighters, old time flint/steel, modern flint/steel, as well as dryer lint starters, char cloth, dry tinder, fat wood, cedar sticks/kindling (these make great starters as they catch fire quickly but unfortunately don’t last long) and a few other methods that off the top of my head cannot recall! I also have charcoal stored – not a lot but I’ll get by; a fire starting chimney, dry paper. I don’t use liquid charcoal lighter fluid – I cannot stand the smell of it and I have other methods of starting my charcoal.
Something else that I have done for fire starting – I kept a zippered bag that a set of sheets comes in and filled it with newspaper. I keep that in my fire box with methods to light it as well as tinder, kindling and other larger wood. Since I live in an apartment, I don’t have much but enough to get a fire started at least.
I have a fire pit made out of a small propane tank – it was emptied of course, then cut in half. The two halves then were welded together to create a foot and a pit. I also have a tripod, s-hooks, and a grille set up – all hand made by a blacksmith at a Mt. Man Rendezvous. If I get to go to some rendezvous this year, I’ll get a photo of my fire set up and post so you can all see what I am actually talking about!
Hi Leanne, oh I would love a picture of that fire setup for sure!! I’m not fond of the lighter fluid either. I only buy plain charcoal, because it lasts forever. That Mountain Man re-enactment would be awesome. Life is so good with the knowledge we have. Linda
Beautiful work on that cook setup
Pine cones can make good tinder–not with a spark-started fire, but if you have matches or a lighter, they’ll work nicely. Collect a few bags in the fall, let them dry, and put them away.
Another good tinder is birch bark. Obviously, don’t peel it off live trees except in an emergency, but you can collect it from fallen trees, or from firewood logs.
Another twist on the toilet paper tube or egg carton starters–use the scraps of cotton that come in pill bottles, along with old wax–or petroleum jelly.
And another version of fatwood–look for a dead pine tree, and collect the knot ends of branches. They’re likely to be full of pitch, which will burn well–I’ve never tried it, but I’ve been told they’ll burn even when wet!
Hi Rhonda, Mark and I gathered pinecones, washed them with a hose, then baked them. We have like twelve 5-gallon containers. They will burn in my Kelly Kettle, best fuel, it’s free!! Linda
2 inch diameter cotton pads from the drugstore, (100 for a couple of bucks). Dipped in melted candle wax. (These will burn with a nice flame, for just over 2 1/2 minutes.) Non-greasy/ very light/ take up little space. Come to think of it- could be made from squares cut from a heavy cotton shirt.
I like your blog- lots of interesting info and chatter, here!
Hi Davide, thank you for your kind words. I love getting ideas from people we can learn so much from one another. I like the idea of burning just over 2-1/2 minutes!! Stay safe, Linda
For years I have made firestarters from saved leftover candle wax, paper egg cartons, t.p.& paper towel rolls, shredded paper & sawdust. These are super easy to make & work great. And they’re FREE!!
Hi Gwen, oh I love FREE! It’s so fun to save “stuff” and make fire starters!! Great comment! Linda