Campfire starter: Top choices to buy or DIY 

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Best campfire starter overall


campfire starter

An all-around, compact-designed fire starter for all weather conditions.

Best backpacking fire starter



A super lightweight, easy-to-use non-toxic fire starter that ignites in seconds.

Best natural campfire starter

superior trading

superior trading co

An eco-friendly, weatherproof fire starter made of 100% organic materials.

Campfires do wonders in keeping us warm and full while heading outdoors. Let alone the relaxing power burning flames have. And what can beat those deep conversations or cozy silence around the fire? 

If you’ve ever tried setting the campfire, you might’ve recognized it’s not a walk in the park. Unless you have a proper campfire starter by your side to wipe out the struggle.

There are lots of options out there – from homemade kits to store-bought fire starters. We tested different ones to pick the best options for you, whether you’re up to buying one or crafting yourself.

How to choose a fire starter

The ultimate goal of a fire starter is to light a fire easily. We considered these aspects to evaluate fire starters’ performance:

  • Size: Is it compact enough to bring on a backpacking trip?
  • Burn time: How long does it burn? 
  • Wind: Can strong winds extinguish the flame? 
  • Waterproofness: Will it light up in damp weather? 
  • Ease of ignition: Is it easy to light? How to light a fire: with a lighter, matches, or ferro rod?

Best fire starters to buy in 2023

Now, it’s time to go through all ins and outs of the top 3 fire starters we’ve selected.

1. Pyro Putty – best fire starter

campfire starter
Best campfire starter


  • Dimensions: 3.1 x 3 x 2.9 in
  • Weight: 0.3 lbs 
  • Burn time: up to 15 minutes
  • Blue Winter Blend: -20°F to 90°F
  • Orange Summer Blend: 30°F – 110°F
  • Green Eco Blend: 30°F – 110°F
  • Made in USA


  • Weatherproof
  • Multiple ignition options 
  • Burns up to 15 minutes (quarter size)
  • Universal
  • Good for backpacking 
  • Non-toxic and safe to use anywhere
  • Up to 12 wet fires and 20 dry fires per can


  • Can emit harsh smoke
  • Synthetic

Pyro Putty is a real game-changer when it comes to quick campfire ignition in any weather conditions. It features different blends for different uses (camping, hunting, outdoor survival adventures, you name it) in snow, sleet, wind, or shine. 

When Pyro Putty creators say it’s totally waterproof, they mean it. You can drop it in the water, and it’ll float. Simply squeeze the fire starter and relight it – it’ll work just fine. And as you might guess – Pyro Putty can deal with wet logs and damp wood. 

The usage of this fire starter is straightforward. To ignite it, you’ll need just a tiny spark – touch a lighter or a match flame to the “fluffed” end. Stick it to logs, tinder, or torch and build a fire that’ll intensely burn for up to 15 minutes. A single quarter-sized dab will do the work. 

We noticed that the green eco blend with a pleasant citrus smell seems to burn rather longest. Also, it has fluoresces in UV – blacklight, so it’s most visible at night. 

Although Pyro Putty is a non-toxic campfire starter and is safe for outdoor cooking (when the fire starter is gone), it’s still a synthetic campfire starter. So if you’re up to purely-natural starters, look for other options below. 

For us, Pyro Putty quickly made its way to the best campfire starter award with its multipurpose, compact design that’ll get your fire going in a blink of an eye.

2. FireFlame – best backpacking fire starter

Best for backpacking


  • Dimensions: 9.06 x 5.67 x 1.93 in
  • Weight: 0.3 lbs (0.2 oz per individual package)
  • Made of all-natural paraffin wax
  • Burn time: up to 10 minutes 
  • Made in Denmark


  • Good for cooking 
  • No harmful substances
  • No smoke or fumes
  • Non-combustible
  • Leaves no residue
  • No unpleasant odor
  • Weatherproof
  • Lightweight
  • Good value for money


  • Might need more packages than recommended

Just like Pyro Putty, FireFlame is a weatherproof campfire starter that’ll get your flame burning in rain, snow, and strong winds. Made of paraffin wax, this fire starter smells much like a burning candle and doesn’t give any unpleasant odor. 

It’s a more natural fire starter without any harmful substances, making FireFlame a go-to option for cooking. We tried and confirmed – your beloved meat’s taste will remain unaffected. 

What we also loved about this campfire starter is that it’s “neat”. Thanks to its masterful design, it won’t leave any residue or flammable shavings around. Basically, this fire starter will be gone entirely after its job is done. 

FireFlame comes in little packages filled with white powder. Use matches to light up the corner of the plastic piece to create a hot flame that should burn for up to 10 minutes (9 minutes was the time it worked for us). You can also tear the packages and dump the powder where you’ll put the kindling. A couple of ferro rod strikes should be enough to catch fire. 

FireFlame’s packages are flat and weigh only 0.2 oz per each, making this campfire starter a no-brainer for a backpacking trip.

3. Superior Trading Co – best natural campfire starter

superior trading co
Best for all-natural campfires


  • Dimensions: 6 x 6 x 6 in 
  • Weight: 1.5 lbs per package
  • Includes 50 pods per package
  • Made of wood shavings and food-grade wax
  • Burn time: up to 15 minutes
  • Made in USA


  • Good for cooking
  • Resealable plastic bag for easy transportation
  • Burns without a bunch of smoke, no ash floating in the air
  • Easy to relight 
  • One pod is enough for charcoal
  • Good value for money 
  • Weatherproof 
  • Very easy to use


  • Could be bigger per pod 
  • Can’t fit a lot of them in storage – a bit bulky

Our third place winner – an all-natural campfire starter Superior Trading Co Light a Fire – is perfect for those who prefer 100%-organic materials to start their roaring fire. 

This campfire starter’s design features cupcake-sized pods made of wood shavings and food-grade wax that fit perfectly for cooking. Just light them up with a flame source (ferro rod might not help), and you’re off to go.

For a fire to start, you don’t need any newspapers – some little sticks on top will get the flame going. Superior Trading Co burns without a bunch of smoke or ash floating in the air, making it a fire starter to choose if you value a “clean” campfire. One pod is totally enough for charcoal. 

As an all-natural campfire starter, Superior Trading Co isn’t as waterproof as previously-described fire starters. Though if you carry them in a resealable plastic bag, they’ll serve you well for up to 15 minutes of burning flames. 

This campfire starter will require a bit more space in your backpack and might get bulky if you try to fit a lot of pods. But as we said, the good news is that just a few of them will be enough for a long-lasting campfire. 

If you’re a natural fire lover, Superior Trading Co is an excellent companion for any camping trip.

Runners up

Our tests showed there are also other fire starters worth mentioning for their unique, fire-boosting features. Let’s see what’s in there!

Midwest Hearth – fastest ignition

midwest hearth
Best for ignition time


  • Package dimensions: 9.4 x 7.4 x 2.8 in
  • Weight: 4.44 lbs 
  • Made of compressed wood chips, paraffin wax, recycled newspaper
  • Burn time: around 10 minutes per square (11 per our test)
  • Made in USA


  • Good for cooking
  • All-natural ingredients
  • Good value for money
  • Record ignition time – 0.1 second
  • Long burn time


  • Not waterproof 
  • Package design could be improved for easier opening and storage

Midwest Hearth is another all-natural campfire starter made of organic materials, making it a good choice for cooking fires. 

This campfire starter features thick cardboard, which looks bulky at first sight. But squares themselves are flat-designed, so they’re pretty convenient for storing and make superb fire starters. 

Though cardboard and squares aren’t waterproof, as long as they and the firewood are dry, they make their way to the top list with their superb ignition time. Literally, it took only 0.1 seconds. 

Simply tear one square apart in a few pieces, place them at the end of your firewood, and light up. They’ll melt onto the wood and burn for quite a while, so the wood has all the chances to ignite. 

We recommend not cutting them but rather breaking them to have rough edges and light easier. You won’t get any gunk residue on your hands.

EcoStix Fatwood – best eco–friendly fire starter

Best eco-friendly campfire starter


  • Package dimensions: 8.98 x 8.46 x 2.32 in
  • Weight: 2 lbs 
  • Made of resin-rich Ocoee Pine, all-natural fatwood kindling
  • Sold in 10, 20, 25, 30, 40 and 50 pound boxes 
  • Made in Mexico


  • 100% natural fatwood harvested from leftover stumps of pine trees
  • Internal resin allows easy lightning 
  • Choose from 6 different box sizes 
  • Compact and efficient cardboard box 
  • Good smell of pine resin


  • Let off some black smokes until they fully catch 
  • Stick sizes vary per box
  • Not very weatherproof

EcoStix is a fire starter made of 100% natural, resin-rich Ocoee Pine fatwood leftover stumps. If you’re a campfire enthusiast, that should already tell you a lot – fatwood is famous for long-burning, decent fires. 

Although EcoStix served us well, we saw many reviews concerning their size. It seems that each box varies in size, which might impact cost-effectiveness. Sometimes sticks inside are consistently the same small size, best for igniting fires. However, boxes might contain more giant sticks or a combination of big and small, which isn’t that comfy for building fires. 

So, how many sticks you’ll need depends on their size. In our case, we put 3 EcoStix at the bottom (crisscross or overlap). Try starting with as little as possible to familiarize yourself with this campfire starter and avoid ending up in a big, hardly controlled fire. 

Then, place your wood on top and light EcoStix to start a campfire. It’ll work best with a lighter or matches, but the ferro rod will also do its job – just might take a little longer. 

We loved EcoStix because of its materials and ease of use. The cherry on top was the smell of pine resin.

Lightning Nuggets – best for ease of use 

lightning nuggets
Best for ease of use


  • Item dimensions: 2 x 2 x 1.25 in 
  • Weight: 6 lbs 
  • Made of pine and food-grade wax
  • Burn time: 15 minutes
  • Box includes 100 fire starters 
  • Made in USA


  • Good for cooking
  • Eco-friendly 
  • No fumes or odors
  • No lighter fluid or other assistance required 
  • One piece enough to light a campfire
  • Good to store in an emergency kit 
  • Good value for money 
  • Not messy-looking design


  • Won’t work well with damp firewood 

Lightning Nuggets fire starters are quite similar to fatwood, just burning a bit slower. With this campfire starter, you won’t need any wood, and the kindling will be more than enough. Of course, it all depends on your preferences, and firewood will definitely power up your campfire. 

The good thing about this campfire starter is that you’ll need only one piece to light a campfire. No improvisations here. 

To ignite the fire, light the flat top edge with a match. In a minute, the nugget will turn into a fireball with an 8-inch flame ready to start heating or cooking. Especially if the kindling you use is thin and dry. We recommend adding more thicker pieces of kindling shortly after to build a long-lasting campfire. 

Lightning Nuggets don’t have fumes or odors because it’s a natural product. This campfire starter is a good value for money and can serve as a great addition to your emergency kit.

Pine Mountain StarterLogg – best burning time

pine mountain
Best burning time


  • Dimensions: ‎5.25 x 4.5 x 1.75 in
  • Item weight: 2.28 lbs 
  • Package weight: 6.83 lbs
  • Made of pine wood, sawdust, candle wax, and coffee grounds 
  • Burn time: 1 hour 
  • Made in USA


  • Ignites quickly without a newspaper, kindling, or dried grass 
  • Easy transportation 
  • Eco-friendly materials 
  • Double-log shape 
  • Doesn’t have a scent 
  • Works well on damp food, but better have dry


  • Takes comparably longer to catch fire (don’t light with a single match)
  • Little hard to snap into pieces 
  • Hands get pretty waxy trying to break it apart

Another worth-to-try campfire starter, StarterLogg, made its way to the list with its record burn time of around 1 hour. 

Made of eco-friendly materials, StarterLogg ignites promptly without any newspaper, kindling, or dried grass. Simply place it in your fire pit, light it with matches or a lighter, and enjoy your fire. Just don’t get confused if it doesn’t light immediately – for us, it took approx 20 seconds, but burning time beats it all. 

While you might not need the whole log to start a fire, it might be difficult (but still manageable) to break it into pieces. We’d recommend using gloves if you want to keep your hands clean; otherwise, they’ll get somewhat waxy.

GreenSpark – natural runner-up  

Natural runner-up


  • Dimensions: ‎7.8 x 7.1 x 5.8 in 
  • Item weight: 2 lbs
  • Made of recycled pine wood wool and 100% natural stearin, paraffin wax 
  • Burn time: up to 10 minutes (9 minutes per our test) 
  • Made in Poland 
  • Available in different sizes: 70, 140, and square 160 pcs


  • Eco-friendly, organic, non-toxic 
  • Portable, lightweight
  • Quick ignition
  • Good for cooking
  • Weatherproof 
  • No dangerous flare-ups 
  • Don’t have a smell and don’t leave residue on fingers 
  • Good value for money 
  • Clean to use 
  • Very easy to use


  • Inconsistent sizes 
  • Have a lot of loose fibers that easily fall out

GreenSpark is super straightforward to use. This campfire starter comes in smaller chunks that you can easily get one or ten based on your needs. They’re easy to light, last for a decent time,  and don’t affect the flavor of your food. 

Made of organic materials, this campfire starter comes in boxes of different sizes. It’s suitable for cooking, as it doesn’t give any odor or flavor to your food. 

While it features loose fibers that can fall out pretty easily, GreenSpark is clean to use as it doesn’t leave any track when burnt up. 

It’s an excellent eco-friendly (even packaging is 100% paper-based) campfire starter that’ll get your fire going in seconds.

QuickSurvive – best for extreme weather conditions 

Best for extreme weather conditions


  • Dimensions: ‎5.3 x 5 x 4.8 in
  • Item weight: 0.75 lbs
  • 50 pieces per canister 
  • Burn time: up to 10 minutes
  • Made in USA 


  • All-weather
  • 100% waterproof both inside and outside the pack 
  • 30-year shelf life
  • Non-combustible
  • Easy to use
  • Burns at high altitude
  • Easy to carry 
  • Light enough to pack anywhere 
  • Food-safe


  • Some packets burn 10 minutes, and some don’t – lack consistency 
  • Has black smoke sometimes

QuickSurvive’s name just tells it all. It’s an unbeatable fire starter in extreme weather conditions – heavy storms, high altitudes, snow – you name it. 

It’s 100% waterproof inside and outside the package and can light up quickly, even if frozen. The most impressive part – it has a 30-year shelf life, so you won’t have to worry about expiration dates. Ever. However, we recommend not waiting for that many years; the fresher the pack, the better it is to burn. 

To start a fire with this campfire starter, just light 1-3 pieces of QuickSurvive directly with a ferro rod, lighter, or matches, or strike fire with a magnesium flint striker. It shouldn’t take longer than a few seconds. 

If you’re up to more challenging, extreme adventures in all seasons, then QuickSurvive deserves a space in your backpack.

Duraflame – best for decent fires 

Best for decent fires


  • Dimensions: 18 x 12 x 12 in
  • Item weight: 3.7 lbs
  • Made of a blend of waxes and renewable, recycled biomass fiber 
  • Burn time: up to 30 minutes
  • 12 pieces per box


  • Fast lightning – just need to light the wrapper
  • “Woodsy” scent 
  • Compact and water-resistant packaging for easier transportation
  • No black smokes – very clean burning 
  • Don’t get dried out quickly


  • Could be easier to break into small pieces 
  • Can be a bit hard to light in damp conditions

Duraflame stands out with its quick and always-decent fire ignition. You don’t need kindling or newspaper, and even a whole piece of Duraflame! It’s enough to break into smaller pieces and use one to have a decent, not-too-hot fire. 

Just light the wrapper using matches or a lighter. For the best result, light both ends and stack wood around. We’ve used Duraflame (and some other campfire starter) like this multiple times and never failed. 

Duraflame is made of a blend of waxes and renewable, recycled biomass fiber. Its compact design and water-resistant packaging make it easy to carry on any camping trip.

DIY fire starters: 10 best ways to make them

As we’ve seen, there are some fantastic campfire starters that you can buy and simply forget all the hassle around starting a fire. But we know the charm of handmade tools. Especially, your-hand made.   

If you don’t want to bring along some store-bought fire starters, why not go the DIY route? 

With a bit of creativity and some everyday household items, you can quickly whip up a batch of homemade fire starters that will have your campfire burning bright in no time.

1. Egg carton + wax + dryer lint

This is one of the most popular methods for making DIY fire starters. Most likely, you’ll find all you need at home. Here’s how to do it:

  • Fill each compartment of a cardboard egg carton with some dry materials like sawdust, cotton balls, or shredded paper. Leave a good room to pour melted wax. 
  • Then, melt some beeswax or another type of wax and pour it over the top of the dry materials, covering them all.
  • Poke the wax with a knife or fork to clear its way through the materials.
  • Leave it all to dry on a newspaper. 
  • Once the wax has hardened, cut the carton cups, and you’ll have a bunch of little fire starters. Light the side of the carton! 
How to melt wax
  • Put some wax (for example, from burnt candles) into a tin can or another vessel you don’t mind getting somewhat wrecked. 
  • Heat a large pan of water and place the tin can inside. 
  • Keep heating until the wax melts, and pour it in no seconds. 

If the tin starts drifting, use tongs to hold it in place and prevent it from knocking over. Be careful when removing the tin – it’ll be scorching, so use the tongs! 

2. Cupcake liner + toilet paper + spices + cones

This is a great way to use up those extra cupcake liners and toilet paper rolls. Here’s what you need to do:

  • Cut the toilet paper roll in half and stuff each half with some dryer lint.
  • Roll up each piece of toilet paper, making sure the lint is tightly packed inside.
  • Place each roll in a cupcake liner and sprinkle on some spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, or allspice.
  • Fold up the cupcake liner around the toilet paper roll, making sure it’s tightly sealed.
  • Place the cone in a fire-proof container until you’re ready to use it.
  • To use, simply light the toilet paper and place the cone in your fire pit. The spices will give your fire a pleasant smell, and the lint will help it to burn brightly.

3. Dryer lint + toilet paper

This method is similar to the one above but doesn’t require cupcake liners.

  • Stuff some dryer lint into a toilet paper roll and roll it up tightly.
  • To use, simply light the toilet paper and place the roll in your fire pit. The lint will help the fire to burn brightly.

4. Matches + toilet paper + wax

This self-igniting option will add an extra pinch of convenience to get your campfire going.

  • Firmly wrap at least 12 inches of toilet paper around the match. Leave the head of the match open. 
  • Dip it into the melted wax, again avoiding the match head (if you dipped the head accidentally, scrape the wax away before using).
  • Put aside to dry. 

5. Pinecones + wax or cooking oil

Pinecones make great natural fire starters, especially when they’re coated in wax. To do this, melt some wax (or use cooking oil) and dip the pinecones in it. Then, set them out to dry on some newspaper. You can store dried orange peel in a paper bag until you need it.

To use, simply set the pinecone on fire and place it in your fire pit. The wax will help the fire spread, and the pinecone will burn for quite some time.

6. Orange peel

Orange peel can be used as a fire starter in several ways. One way is to collect the peels and dry them out. Once they’re dry, you can store them in a container or bag until you’re ready to use them. To use, simply place the peel in your fire pit and light it. The peel will burn for a short time, but it will help to get the fire going.

Another way to use orange peel as a fire starter is to coat them in wax. To do this, simply melt some wax and dip the peels in it. Then, set them out to dry on some newspaper. Once they’re dry, you can store them in a paper bag until you need them. To use, just set the peel on fire and place it in your fire pit. The wax will help the fire spread, and the peel will burn for quite some time.

7. Cotton pads + wax

Another option for which you’ll likely find everything at home is waxed cotton pads. They’re ultralight, so they will be perfect for backpackers who want to save weight on their shoulders.

How to prepare it: 

  • Find one of these items: cotton string, cotton pad, tampon, shoelace. 
  • Cover entirely with melted wax.
  • Leave to dry. 
  • Cut them into smaller pieces for multiple uses. 

8. Cotton wool + vaseline

This is a great way to make a DIY fire starter that will burn for a long time.

  • Soak some cotton wool in vaseline and place it in a box or container.
  • To use, simply take out a piece of the cotton wool and light it. The vaseline will help it to burn for a long time, making it perfect for starting a campfire.

9. Tree resin

Tree resin is an excellent material for making DIY fire starters. It’s highly flammable and burns for a long time, making it perfect for getting a fire going.

To use tree resin as a fire starter, collect some resin from a tree (you can usually find it on the bark) and place it in your fire pit. Then, light it and watch it burn.

Bonus tip

Best are conifer trees, but if you can find a pine tree – you’re double lucky, as you can use pine cones together with the tree fluid. 

10. Bonus: PRO level campfire starter

Now let’s talk serious fire. If you want to have a starter that’ll burn for 10 minutes (or even more), this design is your way to go. 

You’ll need:

  • Cotton balls
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Toilet paper tubes
  • Twine
  • Wax

What to do

  • Cut the toilet paper tubes in half.
  • Fold one end on itself. The edges of the tube should touch in the middle, forming a closed end on the toilet paper tube. 
  • Saturate the cotton balls in rubbing alcohol.
  • Put 3 cotton balls into the toilet paper tube.
  • Fold the other end on the tube, as before. 
  • Tie the tube shut with twine. The twine should leave enough additional cord dangling to act as two make-do wicks.
  • Sink the fire starter into the melted wax immediately. If you delay this step, rubbing alcohol will dissolve. Seal it in there ASAP. 
  • Put aside to dry completely. 
How to store homemade fire starter

Unless you’ve crafted a waterproof fire starter, you’ll need your DIY starters to keep out of moisture. Wax-based fire starters do well, but if they’re absolutely dry – they’ll make life easier for you when setting a campfire. We recommend storing fire starters in a ziplock bag or a locking tupperware box. 

Got anything to add?

Have any experience to share or question to ask about campfire starters? Leave a comment below!

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