Bonfires are a way of life in the summertime, but nobody said getting them going was all that easy. If you want to stay away from butane lighters, and there’s quite a few reasons why you might want to consider doing so, we’ve got the best guide to types of fire starters you can use to find something a bit more natural. (And in many cases, more reliable!)
A Guide to Types of Fire Starters: How and When to Use Them
Here we’ll explore a bunch of different types of fire starters to suit your needs around the yard, whether it be starting a charcoal BBQ, getting a bonfire going or just making quick work of some lawn trimmings. First things first, I’ll start off by saying if you’re someone who’s a little bit dubious about butane lighters, you’re totally not alone on that one.
Besides the fact that they smell, they’re a bit of a liability too. As someone with kids, I can tell you that keeping on top of all of the dangerous fire-starting apparatuses around the house is a task all on its own!
Leaving a plastic shell with lighter fluid lying around just isn’t my style, but thankfully there’s a wealth of fire starter options out there to choose from. The question is which one, and when should I use it?
Using cardboard smells gross, and isn’t good for you or the environment. Paper on the other hand, burns up too quickly and produces a lot of irritating smoke. These firestarters help make a spark quickly, so you don’t have to toil around with lawn trimmings or newspaper to get your fire started.
Different Types of Fire Starters
These are the best types of fire starters to use for each occasion. We’ll break each one down, give instructions and a little background of how they work, and how to use them! These are the best alternatives to using lighter fluid or butane to start a bonfire, or BBQ with ease.
Wax and Sawdust Square Fire Starters
- Small, compact short-duration fuel source
- Will light when wet/damp
- Safe for lighting cooking fuel
- Burns for approx 6 minutes
- Doesn’t impart a flavor on food that cooks over it
- Great for camping
Easy to keep on hand, these little sawdust tablets are ideal for getting a flame going quickly. In fact, it’s almost a fool-proof method for getting a fire going. Even if you’re not much of an outdoorsy person, you’ll find these make quick work of starting a bonfire or even charcoal.
How to use Sawdust as a Fire Starter
Apply a flame directly to these tablets by using matches, but make sure you’ve placed them exactly where you want them, first! Sawdust is incredibly flammable, and the wax mixed in allows these to burn slowly so they can help charcoal or kindling burn before they go out.
Fatwood Fire Starter Sticks
- Doesn’t require matches
- Perfect for bonfires
- Ideal as a backup emergency fire starter
We couldn’t compile a guide to types of fire starters without talking about fatwood sticks! These compact and miraculous sticks burn long and hot, making them ideal for getting a bit of kindling going, which will make starting a log fire easy.
How to Make a Fire with Fatwood Sticks
There’s three elements to starting a fire with these sticks. These are jute, fatwood and fatwood chips. Combined, they’ll create a simple system for creating the beginnings of a bonfire. First, pile a large coin-sized amount of fatwood chips, and stack a couple of pieces of fatwoof on top of that. Next, add a little bit of wax coated jute string, and apply a small flame via a match or tinder kit. Once it’s aflame, place several more pieces of fatwood around it, and carefully stack kindling on top, before placing several pieces of wood.
Ferro Stick and Steel
- Best firestarter for bushcraft
- Incredibly easy to use
- Works wet or dry
- Very small and compact
- Great backup firestarter
- Lasts for 20,000 strikes
If you really want to go full Flintstones, we’ve got you covered! This is the most reliable ‘flint and steel’ style method of lighting a fire, and it comes highly recommended. Whether you’re camping, lighting a fire in the backyard the old fashioned way, or never want to be without a reliable source of fire, this is an ideal choice. Besides the fact that it’s incredibly portable, it’s also specially designed to give you the most kick. A lot of ferro sticks out there give off a piddly spark that’s hardly worth your time. This hexagon shaped design produces a large spark and flame for starting bonfires.
How to use a Ferro Stick to Light a Fire
- Firmly grasp the ferro stick, pointing downwards towards a small pile of dry kindling.
- Hold the striker in your thumb and index finger at the top of the stick.
- In one quick motion, firmly press down on the ferro stick and slide the striker all the way to the end so it will ‘click’ as it sharply slides off the end of the stick. This will send hot ferrocerium onto your kindling, (a molten, almost liquid fire looking substance).
- Repeat until you have a small flame, and carefully build up your kindling into a full blown flame.
Wood Steorin Bundles: The Best Charcoal Fire Starters
- All-Natural wood shaving bundles
- 60 per bag
- Ideal for lighting charcoal BBQs
- Safe for cooking food over
- Won’t produce any toxic smells
These small bundles are ideal for making a clean fire that will burn long and hot! They look like small tumbleweeds, but they pack a decent burn time and temperature. In fact, these are perfectly suitable for starting a charcoal BBQ!
How to use a Charcoal Fire Starter to Start a BBQ
First, place them amongst your pieces of charcoal, and then simply light with a match. They should take quickly, and they pack enough heat to get your charcoal started fairly easily. These starters are a perfect alternative to using lighter fluid to start a charcoal BBQ.
Thanks for checking out our guide to types of fire starters, and how to use them! These all make great alternatives to lighters, lighter fluid, butane and of course gasoline. For a natural lighting method, you could do a lot worse than using something that won’t impart funny or noxious flavors on your food. All while avoiding excessive smoke in the process!