The 8 Best Fire Starters of 2023

Our top choice is the Billy Buckskin Co. Fatwood Fire Starter Sticks

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Best Fire Starters


Whether you’re building a cozy, roaring fireplace in your living room or relying on flame during a multi-day wilderness excursion, a fire starter is an excellent, if not essential accessory to have on hand. It can start your blaze quickly, without having to worry about lighting kindling just so; and can ensure you spend more time enjoying your cozy flame's snap, crackle, and pop than frustrating yourself to get it going.

According to Luke Mongrain, a park ranger and a trained wildland firefighter with the Maryland Park Service, and Hunter Johnson, founder and CEO of The Camping Buddy, the best fire starter for your needs varies depending on your location and climate. 

For outdoor and camping use, “Try and use naturally found burnable materials, like fatwood," Mongrain says. Typically, lighter fluids are reserved for charcoal grills; but, he adds, “Most campfires are started without the use of propellants.”

To choose the best fire starters, for indoor or outdoor needs, we considered a range of scenarios in which they’d be useful, including fireplace, grill, and beyond.

Here are the best fire starters.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall

Billy Buckskin Co. Fatwood Fire Starter Sticks

Billy Buckskin Co. Fatwood Fire Starter Sticks


What We Like
  • Works in all weather conditions

  • 100 percent natural

  • Safe to use virtually anywhere

What We Don't Like
  • Fire start depends on size of piece

  • Emits black smoke

Made of 100 percent natural fatwood, this fire starter is among the safest and purest fire starters you can buy because it relies not on chemicals but on wood, sap, and resin. While it’s not the cheapest fire starter option, it is a good value given its composure and versatile use. You can use it anywhere you need a fire: for example, in a fireplace, in outdoor fire pits, on grills, and in the wilderness on a camping trip. Each lightweight stick is approximately the size of a forearm.

Once lit, these fire starters burn long enough to create an impressive heat source, typically around 10-20 minutes. Due to their natural composure, some may take slightly longer to light than others, albeit not to a degree that subtracts from user friendliness. 

Outdoors, we love that Billy Buckskin Fatwood Fire Starters are impervious to inclement weather and can be used in all outdoor and indoor conditions. As a bonus, the resin content is known to keep bugs at bay, making it a great option for the outdoors. One note on indoor use, however: Due to these pieces’ resin-rich nature, they often emit black smoke. While this is not dangerous, it can pose a potential issue if you’re using them indoors, say, in a fireplace. That said, most fireplaces typically account for smoke and soot residue. 

You can buy these fatwood sticks in large boxes of varying weights, ranging from 10 to 50 pounds. Since this fire starter requires a mere two sticks per lighting, a 50-pound box should last you quite awhile.

Price at time of publish: $33

Material: Fatwood, pine, and resin | Burn time: 15-20 minutes

Best Ferro Rod

Exotac fireROD Ferrocerium Fire Starter

Exotac fireROD Ferrocerium Fire Starter


What We Like
  • Durable

  • Waterproof tinder storage

  • Can be used up to 5,000 strikes

  • Virtually indestructible

What We Don't Like
  • Other options cost less

  • Striker not included

A ferro rod is a metal shaft with a groove down the middle that holds some tinder. When you scrape it with a sharp object, sparks emerge that ignite the tinder and start a fire.

This stylish, beautifully designed fire starter, available in three hues, is an excellent gift for those who appreciate an elegant way to start a fire. It’s super-durable, thanks to its anodized aluminum body, which withstands all weather conditions without corroding. The ferro rod inside is replaceable, which means you don’t have to buy an entirely new tool once the rod has worn out. Which it shouldn’t do anytime after your purchase, since the manufacturer rates it to start 5,000 fires.

With a diameter of 5/16 inch, a length of less than 5 inches, and a weight of just over 1 ounce, this is a super transportable option, making it perfect not only for your home’s hearth but also for carrying on a hiking or camping trip. It also contains room to store tinder. 

We note that the product lacks a striker; however, it’s easy enough to use the edge of a knife or another sharp object to spark a fire in seconds.

Price at time of publish: $28

Material: Ferrocerium | Burn time: 5,000 strikes

Best for Food

Superior Trading Co. All Natural Fire Starter with Galvanized Bucket

All Natural Fire Starter with Galvanized Bucket


What We Like
  • Can be used for cooking

  • Waterproof

  • 100 percent natural materials

What We Don't Like
  • Can be messy

  • May create dark smoke

While at first glance this looks like a bucket of fish food flakes, a closer look reveals that it’s actually a shredded compilation of wood shavings (sawdust) and wax. The wax just so happens to be food-grade to boot, making this a perfectly safe option for roasting and toasting indoor or outdoor camping classics, such as hot dogs and s’mores. 

This fire starter is incredibly easy to use: Simply dump the contents of one pod (the package contains 40) into a burgeoning fire, light it up, and watch your fire dance within mere seconds. While the product is advertised as non-smoking, it can, in fact, create a bit of smoke in certain scenarios. That said, we don’t consider this factor a deterrent.

The set comes with a sturdy steel bucket, which is reusable and useful in many outdoorsy scenarios. It’s worth noting that sawdust can be messy at times, so make sure you secure your goods prior to throwing them in your car or backpack.

Price at time of publish: $20

Material: Food-grade wax, sawdust | Burn time: 10-15 minutes

Best for Backpacking

Zippo Typhoon Match Kit

Zippo Typhoon Match Kit


What We Like
  • Lightweight

  • Durable, waterproof material

  • Matches burn up to 30 seconds

What We Don't Like
  • Other alternatives cost slightly less

  • Only 15 matches included

While these may look like any old matches, they most certainly are superior. They’re typhoon matches, which refers to a Zippo match that’s water-resistant, wind-resistant, and incredibly easy to strike (no more fumbling or wasting matches!). For these reasons, this match set is perfect for backpacking—which, as any backpacker knows, can entail wayward weather at the most inconvenient times. 

This set contains 15 of these practically magical matches. Depending on your perspective, they are an excellent deal given their durability and quality; or on the pricier side compared with most matches. 

This kit also comes with a carrying case, which is more durable than the matches it holds. Made from rigid, lightweight plastic, the case floats in water, making it easy to retrieve in any situation (such as if you and your backpack end up in a stream!). The bright-orange hue also adds visibility, so this handy match set is rather difficult to lose. Moreover, it’s also equipped with a lanyard hole, making it simple to port around with you at all times.

Price at time of publish: $15

Material: Plastic | Burn time: 30 seconds

Best for Fireplace

Plow & Hearth Pinecone Fire Accessory

Plow & Hearth Pinecone Fire Accessory


What We Like
  • Fun and functional

  • Unexpected gift idea

  • Natural material

What We Don't Like
  • Can't be used with propane fires

  • Can’t cook over it

In general, pine cones make excellent fire starters. These pine cones, designed expressly for indoor use, deliver all the great qualities of trusted wooden pine cones, plus a heck of a lot more.

Besides growing your fire rapidly, these cones—ranging in size from a tablespoon to a can of peas—add a glorious array of blues, greens, and reds to your fireplace for approximately 15 minutes. They're just the thing for entertaining, family nights, and even last-minute gifts for virtually anyone who has a fireplace. The cones are conveniently packaged, too. 

The pine cones are designed also to be used in wood stoves, campfires, and fire pits. However, the manufacturer warns that you shouldn’t use them in gas fireplaces or pellet stoves.

Price at time of publish: $44

Material: Wood pinecones | Burn time: 10-15 minutes

Best for Charcoal Grill

Looft Lighter All-Electric Charcoal Starter

Looft Lighter All-Electric Charcoal Starter


What We Like
  • Reaches 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit

  • Works with any fuel

  • Long power cord

  • Rapid heat-up time

What We Don't Like
  • Requires power source

  • Other alternatives cost less

This electric fire starter can be used in virtually any scenario; the only caveat is that it requires a power source, so it’s not ideal for wilderness outings or emergency situations. To light your home charcoal grill, though, it’s fantastic. Simply plug in the near-10-foot-long cord and flip on its easy-to-see switch. Within 5 minutes, you can use it to light your coals; 4 times quicker than lighter fluid, according to the manufacturer. And you also can use it to light your fireplace kindling.

It heats up in a mere minute to an incredibly hot 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit. Its aluminum heat shield aids in quick cool-down once you’re done using the device. We also like that the Looft Lighter doesn’t rely on lighter fluid—it’s powered by clean, superheated air—reducing its fire risk. This also means it emits no carbon dioxide.

While this device is on the pricier side compared with some other fire starter tools and methods, it is incredibly durable and should last for years.

Price at time of publish: $80

Material: Aluminum | Burn time: 60 seconds

Best Eco Choice

Fire & Flavor Wood Wool All-Natural Fire Starters

Fire & Flavor Wood Wool All-Natural Fire Starters


What We Like
  • Good value for money

  • Eco-friendly

  • Food-safe

What We Don't Like
  • Single-use

  • Can be messy to transport

While there are many methods of lighting a fire pit, these wood wool nuggets are among the simplest and effective. This product, each of which we note burns for about 7 minutes, comes with 24 wood wool pieces, made from sustainable wood biomass and coated in non-GMO vegetable wax. The manufacturer says these are food safe and heat efficient, releasing more heat per gram than many other methods; and sustainable, made with wood fibers sourced from FSC-certified forests.

For all these reasons, they’re a good option to use for fire pits located around stomping grounds of pets and kids. Moreover, should someone want to break out the hot dogs and s’mores, these wood wool nuggets afford you the flexibility to let ‘em: They’re certified food safe. (In fact, we’ve found that wood wool can even enhance the flavor of food.) 

This box of 24 wood wool pieces is an excellent value. Plus, unlike some other fire pit tools and fuels, they are super lightweight, portable, and take up scant storage space. You need a source to light them, but that can be as simple as a lighter or household matches.

Price at time of publish: $21

Material: Wood wool, non-GMO vegetable wax | Burn time: Approximately 10 minutes

Best Fire Starter Wax

Phone Skope Pyro Putty Starter Kits

Phone Skope Pyro Putty Starter Kits


What We Like
  • Portable

  • Waterproof

  • Sticks to wood, other surfaces

  • Lights in virtually any temperature

What We Don't Like
  • Can emit smoke

Fire wax is a gel that adheres to combustible material, giving you an alternative for starting a fire when it could be too cold or windy to employ other methods. The kit includes three 2-ounce cans; each, according to the manufacturer, can light up to 12 wet fires or 30 dry fires, which can burn up to 15 minutes. You need to apply only a dollop the size of a quarter to a log, making this a relatively long-lasting product. 

You get a “summer blend”—ideal for outdoor temperatures of up to 110 degrees Fahrenheit—and a “winter blend,” which performs beautifully in temperatures as low as minus-20 degrees Fahrenheit. This set also contains one tin of  “eco blend” putty, created from 100 percent renewable sources. 

All five of the putties, despite their slight nuances, can withstand rain and snow. They work wonderfully with wet wood, too.

We have noted that this product can emit unpleasant smoke. Nevertheless, these compact tins of fire-starting putty are perfectly transportable and reliable, making them a great pick for outdoor adventures.

Price at time of publish: $28

Final Verdict

Our top pick is the Billy Buckskin Co. Fatwood Fire Starter Sticks, which is rich in natural resin and sap, and safe to use in virtually any fire-making scenario. If you’re seeking a more outdoorsy, portable option for your fire starter, consider the Zippo Typhoon Match Kit: It comes with impressively long-burning matches, and an ultra-durable case that withstands the elements.

What to Look For in a Fire Starter


There are many different types of fire starters, ranging from matches, which you can use in a range of scenarios; to electric heat wands, which can easily stoke a charcoal grill. When choosing the best fire starter, “There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the best fire starter for your needs will vary depending on your location and climate,” notes Hunter Johnson, founder and CEO of The Camping Buddy. 

When you’re camping or out in nature for a hike, “Try to stick with natural materials whenever possible,” advises Luke Mongrain, a park ranger and a trained wildland firefighter with the Maryland Park Service. “Typically, chemicals are more volatile and dangerous if not handled properly,” he says. 

Ignition Style

While matches and lighters may be great for indoor use, Johnson notes, they’re small and thus easy to lose on outdoor excursions. Moreover, they may not suffice in windy, rainy weather. If you plan to use a fire starter that requires plugging in, be sure you have a nearby power source.

  • Can you use an outdoor fire starter indoors (and vice versa)?

    Sometimes. For example, you can use most matches or natural fatwood logs to start an indoor fireplace, as well as an outdoor fireplace for camping. That said, some fire starters, such as many fuel-based fire starter sources and fire putties, are created specifically for outdoor use and shouldn’t be used inside.

    Before using a fire starter inside, always check whether your manufacturer states that its product is safe for indoor use.

    Likewise, some indoor fire starters may not be sufficient for outdoor use, as they may not be weather-resistant, unlike many outdoor-specific fire starters.

  • How long does a fire starter remain functional?

    Typically, fire starters have burn times of around 15 minutes. During this time, they interact with flame to create a large fire. After the fire starter has finished burning, your fire should burn on its own.

    With many fire starters, however, you can add more as needed. For example, if you use an all-natural ball of wood and wax, you can add more as needed if your fire begins to die down.

    Matches typically have a shorter burn time than other options, like putties and wood. But they can be useful, portable options that are easy to carry and strike in most situations.

Why Trust The Spruce?

Sophie Wirt, a New York City-based writer and editor, has been penning product reviews, interviews, and investigative pieces since 2015. For this article, she considered a range of fire starters in an array of categories, carefully assessing each for burn time, weather resistance, portability, and best use-case scenario. She also tapped into two outdoor experts—Hunter Johnson, founder and CEO of The Camping Buddy, and Luke Mongrain, a park ranger and a trained firefighter with the Maryland Park Service.