6 Handy Fire Starting ToolsNovember 24, 2013 by Melanie Swick | 2 Comments
A fire can be critical to survival when you need to combat hypothermia, purify water, or signal a rescue party, but getting one started can be tough—particularly under adverse conditions.
The ability to build a bow drill or other primitive fire starting tools is a great skill to have, but why would you make starting a fire any more difficult than it has to be? The beauty of modern survival is that we have the benefit of modern technology.
Below is a list of six fire starting tools; each is small and light enough that several can be included in any survival kit or bug out bag. (And I highly recommend doing so—I carry at least three ways to start a fire as part of my EDC.)
The simplest choice is waterproof matches. These typically come in a floating watertight container with a striking surface attached, and will ignite even in rain, snow, and heavy winds. The only down side is that you’ll have a limited supply, but this is a potent fire starting tool in a small, lightweight package.
Another great fire staring tool is an ordinary lighter—in our grandparents day, nearly everyone carried a Zippo lighter but today you can pick up a reliable butane lighter at any gas station for less than a dollar. Even if it gets wet, it will work fine once it dries out, and its fuel will out-last nearly any survival situation.
One of my personal favorites is a magnesium fire starter because it produces its own highly effective tinder (magnesium shavings) and the embedded ferrocerium rod produces a shower of extremely hot sparks. This makes starting a fire in even the most adverse conditions fast and easy.
Although it depends on clear skies and bright sunlight, a magnifying lens can be used to start a fire. It’s usually a bit more difficult and less reliable than other fire starting tools, but due to its small size, it’s still a good addition to any kit, plus it has other uses, such as helping you see and remove small splinters.
While on the pricier side, a fire piston can be a great tool because it can be used indefinitely and ignites tinder with heat from friction created by ramming the piston down to compress the air inside. This low tech fire starting tool has been around for hundreds of years, and will likely be around for hundreds more to come.
Steel wool and a 9 volt battery can be used to start a fire by creating massive heat caused by electrical resistance as electrons move from the positive and negative battery terminals through the fine steel threads. This causes the steel wool to actually ignite, but it’s a one-shot deal—Once the steel wool is gone, the battery become virtually useless.