I think that we can all agree that being able to make a fire in a survival situation is a critical skill to have. Where I have run into disagreements with people is what tools a person should have for this task. As with any tool, the best tool is the one that you have at that moment, which is why it is important to take the time to always be prepared.
Everybody has their preferences when it comes to choosing gear but, in my opinion, there are certain tools everyone should have for getting a fire going. In today’s article, I will be discussing those tools and the order of their importance.
6 Tools for Starting a Fire
Tinder/Fire Starting Aides
Tinder may not be a tool, but it is such an important resource for starting a fire that I believe it should always be on this type of list. In certain circumstances, finding a good source of dry tinder can be extremely difficult, but if you always have some in your pack then you will not have to scurry around looking for it when you need it. From natural materials like fatwood to prepackaged fire-starting aides, there are numerous options in this category to pick from. Find the one that you think works best, seal it up, keep it dry, and you will be ready to start a fire so much quicker.
- Don’t have to scavenge for it
- Fire aides ignite easily and hold a flame
- Lightweight, compact, and affordable
- None that I can think of
A lighter should be in every single pack, pocket, flap, and vehicle. In fact, there should be multiple lighters in all the above locations.
- Extremely affordable
- Easy to use
- Lasts a long time
- Produces an instant flame
- Can be picked up almost everywhere
- Can be affected by temperature, water, and wind
Matches can produce an instant flame and are easy to use. However, not all matches are created equal. If you are going to carry matches for a survival situation, stormproof matches are the ones to carry.
- Easy to use
- Extremely difficult to extinguish
- It burns hotter and longer than a typical match
- Take up more space than regular matches
- Cost more than regular matches
A ferrocerium rod, or a ferro rod, requires a little more skill to use than the above tools, but they are superior in durability, longevity, and waterproofing. Ferrocerium rods are among my favorite tool because they work in all conditions, take up little space, and will last virtually forever.
- Easy to use
- Lightweight and compact
- They come in many different sizes and shapes
- Quality ferro rods will produce a shower of sparks
- Requires practice to use them effectively
To this day, I still get eye rolls for suggesting a magnifying glass. But from personal experience, I can tell you that when conditions are right and I have the right materials available, I have gotten a burning ember going with a magnifying glass in about one minute. They are cheap, compact and if you do not break them a magnifying glass will outlast you.
- Compact and lightweight
- Can be used for other tasks
- They will last forever
- They need to be handled with care and protected during travel
- Conditions need to be just right to use them and they can only be used during the daytime
- They do not produce an instant flame or sparks
I may get a little grief for this one but as I said at the beginning of this article, everyone has their preferences. I think that friction methods are fun to practice, and they are great in that the materials needed to make them can be sourced naturally.
However, nobody wants to rely on using friction methods in a survival situation. If the tools for friction methods are premade and carried in a pack, they can be bulky. If you are making them from the environment, it takes time to find the proper materials. Even after all the right materials are collected and assembled, friction methods can require a lot of energy to use as well as a lot of previous practice to be effective in their use.
Having said all that, I believe the knowledge to make friction fires is a tool that everyone should have, and their methods should be practiced with materials from your region.
- Materials for making these tools can be naturally sourced
- Requires the right materials to be gathered and some environments do not have those materials
- To be effective at using these methods, they need to be practiced a lot
- Requires a lot of energy when compared to all the tools listed above
- Does not produce an instant flame or sparks
At the end of the day, I believe the items listed in this article are the most basic, affordable, easy to use, and most reliable tools for getting a fire going in a survival situation. Remember, when your life or the lives of others are on the line, you are going to want to be prepared with the best tools possible.
Thanks for reading and I hope your next fire isn’t too difficult to start.
P.s. Please check out Prepared4X’s All-in-one Fire Starter Kit.
Are there some tools that didn’t make it onto our list or do you have any questions about tools for starting a fire? Let us know your thoughts by leaving a comment below!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Bryan grew up in the Midwest and spent every waking moment outdoors. Learning how to hunt, fish, read the land, and be self-reliant was part of everyday life. Eventually, he combined his passions for the outdoors, emergency preparedness, and writing. Bryan is a published author with Fox Chapel Publishing. In 2019, Bryan authored the book, Swiss Army Knife Camping and Outdoor Survival Guide. In March 2021, he released his second book, Paracord Projects For Camping and Outdoor Survival.