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Choosing Your Fire Starter

Updated on November 15, 2014


They have a variety of names. Whatever you call them, they are necessary in the event of a survival situation. A fire starter is imperative to surviving in the outdoors for any length of time. The items at the top of the list for needs include food, water, shelter, and fire. Some argue that fire creation is the most important of these. It can even be necessary to make clean water for consumption. No matter what priority that you assign a fire starter, I’m sure that we can agree on it being necessary.

There are many products to choose from, and even some homemade options. Many consider a flint and steel to be the best option. These are also known as faro rods. Some say a magnesium bar with an attached flint is the finest choice. It can be wise to carry waterproof matches in a water-tight container. What about lighters? In this article we will examine a few options. This will give you the opportunity to decide for yourself.

So our first question is this; what environment will I be using this product in? There are many factors to consider. The first is why are you in this situation? Maybe your vehicle has stopped working, and you are left stranded. Perhaps a natural disaster has occurred, and you are cut off from electricity and other infrastructure. Some may even consider what is being called a SHTF scenario. This is an event triggered by civil unrest or a hostile takeover. Next, you must consider geography. What fuels will be available to burn? You must think of the weather as well. If you are in a wet environment, maintaining a fire will be more difficult than someplace arid.

"I have made fire!"

A Camp Fire
A Camp Fire | Source

Fire Starter Comparison

  1. The Flint and Steel: This Fire starter is also called a Faro Rod. It features a bar or strip of flint, and a steel striker. This product is used by firmly running the striker along the flint to produce a spark into tinder. The spark ignites the tinder creating a fire. This method requires some practice to master, and should be practiced before being applied in a real world situation. This is a very reliable and energy saving method.
  2. The Magnesium Bar: This product includes a strip of magnesium that is attached to a flint rod. To use this method, a small amount of magnesium dust is stripped from the bar into a small pile. The magnesium itself becomes the tinder for your fire. After collecting the shavings, the flint is spared directly onto the magnesium. When the shavings ignite, they create a very bright and hot flame that burns rather quickly. This method is great for damp or moist conditions, or where tinder is not readily available. This also requires a great amount of practice to perfect.
  3. Disposable Lighter: The disposable lighter is more of a last ditch effort in a survival situation. I would never advice using the lighter itself to start a fire. It is a good idea to carry candles with a lighter. Using the lighter to light the candle, your candle then can be used as the actual fire starter. Lighters do expire, as the fuel may leak or dry up, rendering this device useless.
  4. Waterproof Matches: Waterproof matches are a reliable, but very limited resource. These work best as a compliment to a larger fire starter kit. They are quite simple to use, but are best as a backup to other methods.
  5. Magnifying Glass: This method is very effective, but carries one major downfall. You must have direct sunlight to use a magnifying glass. This makes it impossible to use in overcast conditions or in a shelter. It is used by focusing sunlight through the glass to a fine point. This fine point can create intense heat and ignite your tinder.
  6. Primitive Methods: These include such items as a bow and rod. This involves spinning a small branch in a hole drilled into another piece of wood at a high rate of speed to create friction. The friction then creates a usable ember to start a fire. Primitive methods are tried and true, but may require a lot of research and practice to be able to apply them.

A Challenge

Here's my personal challenge to you. Go out and be active. Apply some of what you learned here in the outdoors. Being active reduces stress and promotes personal fitness. Take this opportunity to grow in knowledge. Be the best that you can be. Most of all, be prepared. You never know what storms will come your way in life, but always be ready for anything.

So how do I decide?

When it comes to deciding what fire starter to have in your pack, the answer really depends on preference. It is always wise to have multiple options. Packing a magnifying glass is a great idea. It also has disadvantages. You must have good sunlight for this method to work. If you find yourself without sunlight, you could be out in the cold. Packing a faro rod is great back up. However you choose to pack, I always say to have many options at your disposal.

When determining the fire starter for you, experience is a must. You should always choose tools that you are comfortable with, and work for you. Don't always rely on what others are using. Consider the elements that you could face. It is ultimately in your hands which path to follow.

Comparison of Fire Starters

Fire Starter
Faro Rod
Works in virtually any environment.
Magnesium Bar
Exceptional in moist conditions.
Simple and very effective.
Magnifying Glass
Sunlight is the only added resource needed.
Primitive Methods
Always available.

Emergency Fire Starter

This is a magnesium fire starter.
This is a magnesium fire starter. | Source

How would you describe your preparedness level?

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Are You Prepared?

Are you prepared for what life may throw at you? Is it really something that you need to be concerned with? Consider the survivors and deaths attributed to major disasters as an example. Major storms like Katrina and Super Storm Sandy displaced many thousands in their respective paths of destruction. Many died as a direct result of these disasters, and in the aftermath. Could there have been more survivors? Hurricane Katrina left so many without clean drinking water, and no way to clean any water that they had. The government and other groups offered assistance, but it was often delayed or unavailable to some.

It's always a good idea to be prepared. Disasters are occurring with more frequency and intensity than ever before. Your family alone should be enough reason to prepare for bad situations. You may be the only person who can take care of you, and your loved ones. Now is a great time to get educated, and become prepared.

A Quick Flick

Disposable lighters are one option available, but aren't necessarily reliable.
Disposable lighters are one option available, but aren't necessarily reliable.

A Driving Force

Individuals who consider themselves preppers, or survivalists have a motivation that drives them. It may be the need to provide for the well being of family and friends. Maybe you live in an area that is prone to natural disasters. Maybe you have certain fears of what the future may hold. Regardless of what motivates you, you are part of a movement that is growing very rapidly.

What is your motivation? Why do you feel the need to be ready? Maybe you have grown up in a family that is self-sufficient. Join the discussion and leave your comments. I like forward to what you have to say. We are all individuals, and your voice counts.


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