We love making campfires. Sitting outside after dark with a good fire going, not so large and smokey as to disturb our neighbors, but not so small and cold as to not be worth it. Building a fire is an art form for myself, and an experiment for others. But at it’s beginning, you have to have something to start the fire with. That brings us to fire starters. All sorts of fire starters and ways to get a fire going from the beginning, and make sure it goes long enough to get the actual logs burning.
For starters, you need paper. I refuse to use lighter fluid on a campfire and won’t touch the stuff. but since we order from a variety of stores, we get a variety of packing material. I’ve found that almost universally, Target.com packs items in paper. It’s a little thicker than newsprint, but not heavy duty either. As a bonus, it tears and folds easily, so it can be stored in a cabinet or basement unit in large amounts for that time when you need it.
But then there is the actual fire. The spark, the flame, the thing that kicks off the fire and gets it going. I’ve tried a few different types of devices that can produce a flame, some cheaper than others, and some proved to be pretty much useless. These items listed below are ones we have tried personally.
The basic, easiest method to start a fire is a with a candle lighter, usually disposable. While there are many brands, Bic still stands strong. They aren’t very expensive either, coming in at under $15 for a 4 pack.
These lighters are cheap and simple, and that is part of the beauty. The just light a flame that can be used to start a bigger fire. It is easy and straightforward, and most importantly, it just works.
The downside of these lighters is that they are disposable, which means more plastic in the landfill, more money to replace them, and they tend to run out when you need it. If you bring them inside after use, keep them safe and dry, they will last for a month or two of heavy use easily.
Second on the list is something I bought… and regret doing so. Its rechargeable! Awesome. It lasts a long time! Great. It doesn’t require changing batteries! No extra cost.
But in reality? It sucks. Just plain old sucks.
The first few times I used it, it was great. It sparks up, starts some kindling on fire, and the flame grows from there. But then it got worse. It wouldn’t always spark, despite having a full charge. And now it does nothing at all. Absolutely nothing. Despite getting good reviews, this thing has proven to be useless, not even heavy enough for a paperweight. It failed after our return window had closed as well, so we can just hope that a negative review gets some notice from the seller and maybe we get something in return for our spent money.
Is the idea of an electric starter bad? No. But we have not found one yet that works as advertised and lasts to make more than half a dozen fires. If something becomes useless after a few uses, well its no better, and actually more costly, than just buying the disposable ones. For that reason, I have to recommend that you follow our lead and just stock up on the Bic lighters.
If we do find an electric starter that meets our needs, we’ll update here. I trusted reviews from other buyers, and that proved my mistake.
A useful starter
One thing we did find helpful is these little blocks of sawdust and wax. There are many types, but this was the brand we used. When put at the bottom of a fire, they do start, eventually, and they burn well and get the fire going. If they started faster, I’d be happier, but once lit, they burn well and hot and get the wood burning.
The one downside of this things though is that they mold. I’m not sure how wax and sawdust can turn moldy, but if left in a humid area, they can grow a layer of mold on them and I assume become useless.
A plus though is that they can be broken apart so its possible to use one stick for multiple fires or place several around inside one fire to get it going well. If you can find something like that, I recommend keeping them on hand. They are not essential to starting a fire, but they can help.
That’s all I’ve got for now. Simple, effective things at this point seem to be best. We’ll add more items as we receive them and keep updating this FIRE post.