Best Fire Starter for Emergencies and Survival

The ability to start a fire in emergency and survival situations can be lifesaving. Emergency fire can be used for warmth, cooking, light, protection and psychological benefits. Having a reliable, long lasting fire starter handy is so important.

We're fans of carrying multiple types of fire starters. Our go-bags contain easy-to-use lighters and longer-lasting ferro rods.

Lesson Learned: Bow Drill

Years ago, our Scout troop decided to give bush craft fire starting a try. As a leader who likes to go into a situation prepared I wanted to make sure I could use a bow drill to start a fire. I watched YouTube videos and asked around. I set up in a perfectly dry garage, followed the directions perfectly and couldn't get the fire going. I generated a TON of smoke and charcoal but the tinder powder never turned into an ember or created flame.

Not wanting to be beat, I connected the drill spindle to an electric drill. I proceeded to apply it to the tinder in high speed and STILL no luck. LOTS of smoke but no flame.

I became immediately aware of the importance of a reliable fire starter.

Top Emergency Fire Starters

We've experimented with dozens of fire starter devices, matches, bush craft methods, etc. and found there is a huge variance in ease of use and longevity of each method.

The top emergency fire starters are reliable, easy-to-use and durable.

Best Ferro Rod for Survival

21 04 30 17 14 04 original b0936lymf4

Hot Strike Ferro Rod Fire Starter

Best ferro rod fire starter for emergencies and survival

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Easiest to Use Fire Starter

20 10 26 10 48 54 original 600x600 lighter


Ideal primary option for rapid fire starting

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Rechargeable Fire Starter

20 11 06 07 25 15 original 600x600 arc plasma waterproof lighter

Arc Plasma Waterproof Lighter

Ideal enhanced option for rapid fire starting

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Best Fire Extinguisher

20 11 22 14 41 50 original 600x600 fire extinguisher

Fire Extinguisher

ABC dry chemical class ABC fire extinguisher

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Emergency Fire Starter

About This Article


Table of Contents

Learn About Survival Fire Starters

Since the dawn of man, we have depended on fire to survive. Even now, we heat our homes, cook our food, and make many of the products we use with some sort of heat or fire.

In an emergency we often need fire to survive. Fortunately, we don't have to start fire today with sticks or natural flint.

Fire Starter Types

This list of fire starters are the most common.

  1. Gas lighter - think BIC lighter
    1. pros
      1. easy-to-use
      2. instant flame
    1. cons
      1. not super durable
      2. not waterproof
      3. not long-lasting
  2. Matches - Whether standard or waterproof, having a dry stick to help you get started comes in handy
    1. pros
      1. instant flame
      2. instant tinder
    2. cons
      1. water can be an issue, even with waterproof matches
      2. not long-lasting
  3. Ferrocerium rod - special metal rod used to shave sparks into a tinder bundle
    1. pros
      1. long-lasting
      2. waterproof
    2. cons
      1. requires some skill
  4. Electric lighter - newer electric arc technology is rechargeable and very effective
    1. pros
      1. instant heat
      2. rechargeable
      3. often come with other electric functions
      4. often waterproof
    2. cons
      1. not super long lasting - requires outlet
  5. Bush craft methods - use natural resources to build fire (bow drill, etc.)
    1. pros
      1. can find materials anywhere
    2. cons
      1. require knowledge and experience

So, which one is the best fire starter option?

The goal is to have a fire starter handy that is easy to use and lasts long enough to get you our of your emergency.

Emergency Uses for Fire Starters

There are many uses for fire. In an emergency the uses become very basic. 

Texas Power Outage

In 2021 Texas has a massive cold spell that brought down the grid. Electricity went out for millions of people. Stories filled the internet with people trying to survive the cold without conventional home-heating methods. 

Some resorted to building fires just to stay warm. Many were using outdoor grills to cook food. It was very primative. 

When normal services become unavailable fire is used to:

  • stay warm - from camping out to surviving power outages, fire is used to keep us warm
  • cooking - whether we're camping or surviving, cooking food often requires fire
  • lighting your environment - when the lights go out, we can use fire to light the night sky
  • protection - fire can protect us from animals, insects, and even people

Best Fire Starters

21 04 30 17 14 04 original b0936lymf4

Hot Strike Ferro Rod Fire Starter

Best ferro rod fire starter for emergencies and survival

Buy On Amazon
20 10 26 10 48 54 original 600x600 lighter


Ideal primary option for rapid fire starting

Buy on Amazon

Survival Ferro Rods Are the Best Emergency Fire Starters

Day-to-day it's hard to beat matches or a lighter for ease of use. However, in survival or many emergency situations a ferro rod is the better choice. The right ferro rod can be a life saver. In fact, they are preferred by many survivalists - ever see what the winners of the TV show Alone use to start fire? It's a thick, long ferro rod. They are very durable, work when wet, can be used to start hundreds of fires and are easy to use. Not all ferro rods are the same. We recommend and sell the Hot Strike Ferro Rod - a premium fire starter.

How to Use a Ferro Rod to Build a fire

The Hot Strike Ferro Rod is pretty easy to use. Go here for the basic steps to start a fire. To use a ferro rod do the following:

  1. Prepare Your Fuel and Fire Site (MUST BE DRY FUEL!!)
    • Set up a SAFE fire site away from dry grass and debris. This ferro rod produces hot sparks.
    • Gather branches, sticks, wood shavings, dead grass and other fuels.
    • Place a bed of sticks or fuel as a base/ground layer so no heat is lost to the ground.
    • LOOSELY set a bundle of dead/dry grass, small twigs, or wood shavings on the base/ground layer.
    • Set all of your other fuel nearby for quick access. Keep the smallest (DRY) fuel closest.
  2. Using the Ferro Rod
    • Separate the premium striker from the rod by separating the buckles on the lanyard. (optional - remember to connect them again)
    • Use the striker to scrape off the protective black coating on one side of the rod. The flamable ferrocerium material is a bright metallic color.
    • Locate the sharp edges of the striker (opposite side of the ruler - you should be able to see the word "UP" when striking).
    • Hold the tip of the rod just above your small fuel and fire site.
    • Firmly hold the end of the rod (end with the lanyard) in one hand and hold the sharp edge of the striker against the rod at a 45 degree angle. 
    • Scrape agressively toward the open end of the rod while holding the striker at around 45 degrees. Bright sparks will shower your fuel near the end of the rod.
    • Scrape the rod to produce sparks on your dry fuel until the sparks ignite the fuel and you see a flame. 
    • Gently blow on the fuel with the flame to remove smoke and allow the fire to breathe. 
    • As the grass, shavings or small twigs begin to burn, add additional small pieces of fuel until the fire is self sustaining and you can add larger wood.

Top Recommended Ferro Rod

21 04 30 17 14 04 original b0936lymf4

Hot Strike Ferro Rod Fire Starter

Best ferro rod fire starter for emergencies and survival

Buy On Amazon

The Best Survival Fire Starter

We've tested as many fire starters as we can get our hands on. Here's what we've found:

  1. Gas lighters are the best for short term emergencies. They light easily and provide instant flame and heat. We like BIC lighters for their simplicity, reliability, and price.
  2. Ferro rod are the best long-term fire starters. They can light thousands of fires, even when wet and they're very hard to break.


We recommend having at least 2 types of fire starters in your emergency supplies. Go bags, bug out bags, and 72 hour kits are best with a lighter and ferro rod.

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3 Most reviews are based on personal experience from one of our content editors. Some are based on research and the opinions of other reviewers.


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