The Best Fire Starters of 2022

Keep reading for our guide to understanding fire starters and choosing among the available options.

By Donna Boyle Schwartz | Updated Jun 22, 2022 3:29 PM

Best Fire Starter

Photo: istockphoto.com

A toasty fire is a welcome addition to any chilly evening. Less welcome is the hassle of wrestling with wet wood or crumpled-up newspapers to get the first flames going.

Fire starters are a wonderful convenience for anyone with a fireplace, wood stove, fire pit, chiminea, hibachi, food smoker, or even a trusty old-fashioned charcoal grill.

Ahead, learn what to keep in mind when navigating the options—and don’t miss our top favorite picks among the best fire starter options available.

  1. BEST OVERALL: Superior Trading Co. Store All Natural Fire Starters
  2. RUNNER-UP: Lightning Nuggets
  3. BEST FOR CAMPING: QuickFire Instant Fire Starters
  4. BEST FOR EMERGENCIES: Bayite Ferrocerium Drilled Flint Fire Starter
  5. BEST FOR FIREPLACES: Rutland Safe Lite Fire Starter Squares
  6. BEST WEATHERPROOF: Black Beard Weatherproof Fire Starter Rope
  7. BEST NATURAL: GreenSpark Natural Fire Starters
  8. ALSO CONSIDER: Duraflame Firestart Firelighters
Best Fire Starter Options

Photo: amazon.com

What to Consider When Choosing a Fire Starter

There are a few features one should consider when choosing a fire starter, including type, ease of use, and convenience. While any fire starter will make starting a fire easier than using tinder, not all fire starters are suitable for all types of fires.

Popular Types of Fire Starters

Ahead, learn more about the five types of fire starters and what features one should consider when shopping for one.

Ferro Rods

A ferro rod is a piece of ferrocerium attached to a piece of steel. When the steel is struck against the rod, tiny shavings of ferrocerium become oxidized and ignite as a result of the friction, burning at a high temperature of more than 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

Flint and Steel

Flint and steel consists of a steel striker and a piece of flint. When the two are struck together, it produces heated pieces of steel in the form of sparks that ignite a piece of cloth or tinder, starting the fire.

Magnesium

Magnesium comes in rods. To make a fire with it, simply strike the edge of a knife blade into the full length of the rod to ignite a small amount of magnesium. The magnesium spark reaches a temperature of about 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit, igniting the tinder.

Lighter

A lighter consists of a metal or plastic container filled with a flammable liquid or compressed gas. A lighter lights by simultaneously creating a spark with the flint wheel while releasing a controlled amount of the fuel with a button. Unlike other methods, a lighter creates an actual flame, making it a significantly easier means of starting a fire.

Matches

The tried-and-true method of starting a fire. Like a lighter, a match creates an actual flame versus a spark, making it one of the easier ways for starting a fire. However, many matches are susceptible to damage from water.

Size and Convenience

As handy as fire starters may be, their usefulness is, to a degree, dependent on their convenience. Look for fire starters that are lightweight and compact, ranging from 3 to 6 inches in length. Typically sold in cases of 12 or 24, these pocket-size pouches, pods, or cubes can be stored in plain sight or tucked out of sight.

Ease of Use

Fire starters come in different forms and hence vary in how easy it is to start a fire with them. Nuggets and squares that consist of flammable oils, wax, and recycled paper and wood are the easiest to use; however, they do require an ignition source, such as a match or a lighter. Flint-and-steel-style fire starters are more difficult to use but can create a spark that can ignite tinder, making them ideal for situations where one may not have usable matches or a lighter.

Reliability in Inclement Weather

Most fire starters consist of wax, oil, and dense recycled wood, which holds up well in wet weather. Many fire starters are even waterproof. Fire starters also tend to burn at high temperatures of 800 degrees Fahrenheit or more, which allows them to better withstand windy conditions.

Burn Time

Fire starters are meant to facilitate the sometimes painstaking process of starting a fire by providing a persistent flame that can then catch on nearby kindling. To do so, the fire starter has to burn long enough to actually get the fire established. The longer the burn time, the more likely you can achieve a robust blaze.

Smell

The earliest fire starters were impregnated with flammable chemicals, which made them infamous for their smell. Today’s best fire starters, on the other hand, are nearly odorless—a big plus for using fire starters as an alternative to lighter fluid when starting the grill or smoker.

Sustainability

The best fire starters tend to be made of environmentally friendly materials, be it wood waste (sawdust or shavings), nontoxic wax, recycled paper, or waste textile fibers. Bear in mind also that using fire starters typically results in faster and more complete ignition, which reduces the emissions of particulate matter and carbon monoxide.

Our Top Picks

The list below takes into account the above considerations to narrow the field to some of the most effective fire starters on the market. These fire starters are made from natural materials and burn at high temperatures for long periods.

Best Overall

Best Fire Starter Options: All Natural Fire Starters
Photo: amazon.com

These remarkable all-natural fire starters are easy and safe to use—and effective, too. Usually only one pod (from the supply of 30) is needed to light a fireplace, and each pod burns for 15 minutes to help ensure your fire roars. Made from wood shavings and food-grade wax, the Light-a-Fire pods are odorless, nontoxic, and environmentally safe, making them ideal for everything from indoor fireplaces to camping bonfires.

These fire starters are also waterproof and don’t have special storage requirements. To use, simply place the fire starter among kindling at the base of a heart or campfire or under charcoal if lighting a grill, then ignite with a match or lighter.

Product Specs 

  • Material: Wood and wax
  • Number: 30
  • Scent: None

Pros

  • All-natural materials
  • Odorless and nontoxic
  • Waterproof

Cons

  • More expensive than other starters

Get the Superior Trading Co. Store fire starters on Amazon.

Runner-up

Best Fire Starter Options: Lightning Nuggets N50VBOX
Photo: amazon.com

Forget about newspapers and kindling. Usually just one small nugget is all it takes to get the fire started. Each burns for up to 15 minutes, thanks to a blended composition of all-natural, recycled, and nontoxic flammable materials that includes pitchwood sawdust and paraffin wax.

When burned, these nuggets give off a pleasant pinewood scent, making them suitable for fireplaces and campfires but not the best choice for lighting a charcoal grill. Each pack comes with 50 nuggets, making this pack one of the more affordable wood and wax fire starters. To use, simply place at the base of the logs and light. There’s no need for kindling or newspaper.

Product Specs 

  • Material: Sawdust and wax
  • Number: 50
  • Scent: Pine

Pros

  • Gives off pleasant pine scent
  • Comes with 50 nuggets
  • Made of natural wood and wax

Cons

  • Pine scent not suitable for grills

Get the Lightning Nuggets fire starters on Amazon.

Best for Camping

Best Fire Starter Options: QuickFire, Instant Fire Starters
Photo: amazon.com

These innovative compressed oil pouches are 100 percent waterproof with an infinite shelf life. Come time to use them, the packaging material itself acts as a wick. Light a corner and the pack burns for 10 minutes—all without odor or toxicity.

With an odorless burn, these fire starters are ideal for grills and smokers as well as fireplaces and outdoor fire pits. And since they’re also weatherproof, they’re suitable for camping. QuickFire Instant Fire Starters packs of 12 are more expensive than other fire starters unless they’re purchased in the 50-pack bulk size, which is a better deal.

Product Specs 

  • Material: Compressed oil in a pouch
  • Number: 12 or 50
  • Scent: None

Pros

  • Odorless burn
  • Nontoxic contents
  • Weatherproof

Cons

  • Bulkier than other fire starters

Get the QuickFire fire starters on Amazon.

Best for Emergencies

Best Fire Starter Options: bayite 4 Inch Survival Ferrocerium
Photo: amazon.com

This ferrocerium will do more than just help light a fire for those who find themselves without matches or perhaps lost in the backwoods. The waterproof ferrocerium rod creates showers of hot sparks that burn at a temperature of 5,500 degrees Fahrenheit when the steel tool is struck against it, helping to ignite small pieces of paper and tinder.

The 4-inch length allows more space to slide the steel edge against it, and its thicker ½-inch diameter makes it easier to hold on to while keeping the flint-and-steel piece together. The length of the braided 4-foot paracord doubles as a handle, making it easier to hold the rod while striking the steel bar against it.

Product Specs 

  • Material: Ferrocerium and steel
  • Number: 1
  • Scent: None

Pros

  • Thicker bar and braid discord make it easier to hold while striking
  • Long bar creates longer striking surface
  • Compact size fits easily into backpack
  • Doesn’t require a lighter or matches

Cons

  • Harder to use than matches or lighter

Get the Bayite fire starter on Amazon.

Best for Fireplaces

Best Fire Starter Options: Rutland Safe Lite Fire Starter Squares
Photo: homedepot.com

These easy-to-use squares light quickly and burn for up to 10 minutes with no odor, making them ideal for indoor fireplaces. The fire starter comes in small squares, which consist of wood chips, paper fiber, and wax that fit underneath the logs. One or two squares is enough to light a fire.

Each box comes with 24 squares, so they’re one of the more affordable fire-starting options out there. And since they’ll also light when wet, these squares are a good choice for outdoor use. The squares burn with no odor, making them suitable for lighting a charcoal grill as well as a fireplace.

Product Specs 

  • Material: Wood chips, paper fiber, and wax
  • Number: 24
  • Scent: None

Pros

  • Easy to light
  • Burns for up to 10 minutes
  • Will burn even when wet

Cons

  • Does not work well in windy conditions

Get the Rutland fire starters at The Home Depot.

Best Weatherproof

Best Fire Starter Options: Black Beard Fire Starter Rope
Photo: amazon.com

Named for its black color and dense beard-like appearance, this fire starter consists of 33 strands of rope coated with flammable, odorless, nontoxic wax and oils. It’s waterproof and will work in windy conditions, making it ideal for backwoods camping.

To use, cut off a small amount with a pocket knife, roll the fibers together, separate them into a ball, and light with a match, lighter, or ferro rod. Each rope contains enough strands to light 50 or more fires and burn for more than 4.5 hours. The rope burns with no odor and is nontoxic.

Product Specs 

  • Material: Wood chips, paper fiber, and wax
  • Number: 1
  • Scent: None

Pros

  • Will work in wet and windy conditions
  • Burns with no odor
  • Is nontoxic
  • Can light around 50 fires

Cons

  • Breaks up into small pieces that can be messy

Get the Black Beard fire starter on Amazon.

Best Natural

Best Fire Starter Options: GreenSpark 160 Pcs Natural Fire Starters
Photo: amazon.com

These all-natural fire starters consist of a blend of recycled pine wood, wool, and stearin wax with no added chemicals, making them one of the cleanest and most eco-friendly ways to get a fire going. Each small square will burn up to 10 minutes and can withstand harsh weather including rain and wind.

In addition to being eco-friendly, GreenSpark fire starters are one of the more economical options—one box includes some 160 squares. They produce no odor or chemical taste, making them suitable for starting grills, smokers, and even pellet stoves in addition to lighting fireplaces and campfires.

Product Specs 

  • Material: Pine wood, wool, and wax
  • Number: 160
  • Scent: None

Pros

  • Comes with 160 squares in a single pack
  • All natural and recycled ingredients
  • Will work in foul weather

Cons

  • Difficult to break apart

Get the GreenSpark fire starters on Amazon.

Also Consider

Best Fire Starter Options: duraflame Firestart Indoor Outdoor Firelighters
Photo: amazon.com

These individually wrapped, easy-to-use fire starters from Duraflame are made from a blend of wax and renewable recycled biomass fiber. Duraflame Firestart Firelighters burn for up to 30 minutes. Each starter is easy to use: simply place under the firewood or charcoal and light the corner of the wrapper.

One firelighter will burn for up to 30 minutes, making it one of the longest-lasting fire starters one can buy. The packages are always water-resistant, making these fire starters suitable for camping and other outdoor use.

Product Specs 

  • Material: Concentrated resin wood
  • Number: 12
  • Scent: None

Pros

  • Long burn time
  • Easy to light
  • Water-resistant outer wrapping

Cons

  • More expensive than other fire starters

Get the Duraflame fire starters on Amazon.

Our Verdict

Superior Trading Co. Store fire starters are easy to use, burn for a long time, and produce no toxic fumes or odors. They’re suitable for a wide variety of fire-starting needs, ranging from grills to campfires to fireplaces. Those looking for a weatherproof option to take into the backwoods should consider the Bayite fire starter, which requires no matches or lighter.

How We Chose the Best Fire Starters

We considered a variety of factors when making our selections of the top fire starters. A fire starter must be effective at starting fires, so we chose models that would burn for a long enough time to ignite wood or charcoal without the need for small bits of tinder. A fire starter should also be easy to use, so we chose options that light easily with a match or lighter.

For our emergency fire starters, we chose a flint-and-steel-style lighter that’s larger and thicker than others, making it easier to hold and strike to produce the necessary sparks to light a fire. A fire starter should also be able to work in various conditions, so we leaned toward products that work well even in wet and windy conditions.

FAQs

A key to using a fire starter effectively is understanding how to arrange logs and kindling around it. Ahead, learn about how to use a fire starter.

Q: How do you use a fire starter?

To use a fire starter, begin by setting up your wood or charcoal. If building a wood fire, you’ll need some kindling, which will ignite more easily than a full-sized log. Place the fire starter under the kindling or charcoal, allowing access to the fire starter with a match or lighter. Light the fire starter with a lighter or match.

Q: How do you start a fire in a fire pit?

To start a fire in a fire pit, you need wood, kindling, and a fire starter. Place the pieces on top of one another until they form a shape resembling a log cabin about four layers high. Place the fire starter in the middle of your log cabin, pile kindling loosely in the middle of it, then light the fire starter.

Q: How do you start a fire in a fireplace?

Begin by placing two or three pieces of firewood on the fireplace grate, then place your fire starter on top. Place kindling loosely over the fire starter, then add two more logs. When you light the fire starter, it will ignite the kindling, which will, in turn, light the logs.

Q: Do fire starters expire?

Fire starters are made up of materials that include recycled wood fibers, paper, oil, and wax that do not expire; hence, most fire starters do not have a shelf life.