A reliable firestarter is a very important piece of EDC (Every Day Carry) and ODC (OutDoor Carry) survival gear. Many ignorant people associate the carrying of lighters and matches with tobacco and other drugs, however firestarters actually have many useful purposes in the hands of a prepared individual. A small flame is commonly used to fuse the ends of loose thread, paracord, ropes, webbing and fabrics made of synthetic materials; to ignite or assist in igniting gas stove-top burners; to light pilot lights in the stove, oven, furnace or water-heater; to form heat-shrink tubing; to destroy sensitive documents; to light sparklers and fuzes; to light candles and oil lamps; to be used as a lamp; and to light fires in the fireplace or at a campsite. Fire is necessary for cooking and providing warmth in the outdoors.

There are two basic classes of firestarters: EDC and ODC. EDC firestarters are practical for use in the outdoors, but not vice versa. The following are general characteristics of the two:


EDC Firestarters

• Create a flame

• Work instantly

• Consume liquid or gaseous fuel (should be refillable)

• May or may not be effected by water

ODC Firestarters

• Create heat leading to a flame

• Work over time

• Consist of solid fuel (depletable, but long-lasting)

• Not effected by water


It is best to avoid carrying matches (even those labeled "waterproof") as they tend to be delicate, easily extinguished by wind and only good for one use apiece; even if you carry a whole book or tube full, your number of lights is very limited compared to other firestarters. You should also avoid torch-lighters and especially those which utilize electronic ignition; these are known for being very finicky and short-lived, and they only accept pressurized butane as a fuel source. Also, avoid gimmicky firestarting methods such as rubbing a 9-volt battery on steel wool, or bringing along concoctions of homemade combustibles. Your firestarter should be high-quality, compact, reliable and repeatable. I recommend the following:


Zippo "Windproof" Lighter (EDC)

The Zippo is my personal favorite and I carry mine everywhere I go. It is a customizable American classic.

• Wind-resistant but not waterproof

• Refillable (Required every 2 to 3 weeks regardless of use. Be sure to keep spare fluid on hand.)

• Replaceable wick and flint (A spare wick and several spare flints can be stored in the base of a Zippo.)

• Quickly accessible - just flip the lid and strike

• Can be used as a lamp in hand or standing alone

• Flat shape (comfortable for EDC pocket carry)

• May not light in extreme cold conditions (Carry your Zippo in a pocket close to your body to keep it warm.)

• Allegedly will work with fluids other than lighter fluid, including acetone, charcoal fluid, Coleman fuel, cologne, diesel, gasoline, kerosene, MEK, rubbing alcohol and white gas (only use alternative fluids if absolutely necessary and exercise extreme caution: the fumes of some combustible fluids could create a flash fire when the flint is struck and cause burns to your skin).

•Made in USA

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Zippo Green Matte

Zippo Fuel Canister (EDC - BOB)

• Contains enough fluid for one Zippo refill

• Contains two spare flints

• Includes a disk to tighten/loosen the flint screw

• Round shape (not comfortable for EDC pocket carry, but useful for keeping in a Bug Out Bag)

• Made in -country unknown-

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Zippo Fuel Canister

Numyth Tohil Watertight Fluid Lighter (EDC - BOB)

• Waterproof but not wind-resistant

• Uses same fluids, flints and wicks as Zippo Windproof lighters

• Performs all the same functions as Zippo Windproof lighters

• Has O-ring seal to prevent fluid evaporation and to keep water out

• Screws shut (slow accessibility for EDC use)

• Round shape (not comfortable for EDC pocket carry, but useful for keeping in a Bug Out Bag)

• Made in -country unknown-

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Nymyth Tohil Watertight Fluid Lighter

Light My Fire Sweedish Firesteel (ODC)

• Produces 5,400° spark

• Functions when wet

• Functions in extreme cold conditions

• Requires collection/preparation of dry tinder

• Slender shape (useful for carry in the exterior pouch of a fixed blade knife sheath)

• Made in Sweden (?)

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Swedish Fire Steel