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The 5 Best Campfire Starters for Emergency Situations

If you ever get lost in the woods, one of the most important things you’ll need to do is start a fire. In this type of emergency, a fire starter is always an extremely helpful object to have!

Even if you never find yourself in a situation like this, a campfire starter can be an everyday camping essential that makes your life a lot easier.

Keep reading to learn all about the best campfire starters for emergency situations.

Best Campfire Starters

Our Top Picks

Best Overall:
Lightning Nuggets Fire Starters

Best Budget:
Rutland Products Safe Lite Fire Starter Squares

Best for Survival:
FireFlame Quick Instant Fire Starter

1. Best Overall: Lightning Nuggets Fire Starters

Our number-one pick out of all campfire starters is the Lightning Nuggets Fire Starters!

These starters are able to get fires going super quickly and easily with little assistance from other materials like newspapers or cardboard. They really do live up to their name and are practically as fast as lighting!

Lightning Nuggets Fire Starters are also pretty long lasting. They’ll usually keep burning for about 10 to 15 minutes, which will give you plenty of time for the flames to spread.

Lightning Nuggets N100SEB Super Economy Box Fire Starter 100, Count, Tan Brown

Plus, this product comes as a box of 100 starters, so you’ll be set for many camping trips to come.

Depending on the intended size of your fire, you may even be able to only use half of a starter per fire, which will extend this product’s life even further. For larger fires, you may need to use two or three fire starters to get things up to speed.

One of the few downsides of this product is that they don’t come individually packaged, so they might make a bit of a mess if you try to throw one into your backpack without putting it in a plastic bag first.

As a whole, Lightning Nuggets Fire Starters are an efficient and effective piece of survival equipment that’s good for campers of all skill levels!

2. Best Budget: Rutland Products Safe Lite Fire Starter Squares

If you’re trying to build an emergency camping kit on a budget, look no further than the Rutland Products Safe Lite Fire Starter Squares!

You can purchase these campfire starters for under $10, so they’re a great option if you’re just beginning to use fire starters or if you’re not sure how often you’ll use them.

However, you definitely don’t lose quality with these reasonably priced fire starters!

Rutland Products Safe Lite Fire Starter Squares, 24 squares - 50C

One square or maybe even half a square will work just fine for starting smaller fires, but to get a larger fire going quickly, you’ll need at least two squares to start. With 24 squares per box, these campfire starters really pack a punch!

In addition, Ruthland Products Safe Lite Fire Starter Squares don’t require a lot of extra kindling to do their thing, especially if you’re working with dry wood.

At a fairly low price point, you might not expect this campfire starter to do everything that it promises. In reality, it goes above and beyond what its advertising says!

These fire starters are concentrated, fast-acting squares that are easy to work with and last a long time. They’d make a strong addition to any backpack or emergency set.

3. Best for Survival: FireFlame Quick Instant Fire Starter

The FireFlame Quick Instant Fire Starter takes the cake if you’re looking for a campfire starter that works well in survival situations.

For one, these fire starters are incredibly lightweight and come in self-contained packages. This means that they’re super easy to throw in a backpack, fanny pack or even your pocket! You’ll always have room for these fire starters just in case something goes wrong.

As an added bonus, they’re odorless, so they won’t irritate your nose if you choose to carry a few with you.

FireFlame Quick Instant Fire Starter - 100% Waterproof All-Purpose Indoor & Outdoor FireStarter, for Charcoal Starter, Campfire, Fireplace, Firepit, Smoker - Odorless and Non-Toxic - 20 Pouches in Bag

In addition, FireFlame Quick Instant Fire Starters live up to their name because they’re fast and relatively easy to start! On average, it only takes up to three seconds for these starters to catch.

This is obviously a great attribute for a fire starter to have on any occasion, but it’s especially crucial in survival situations if it’s getting dark or cold and you don’t have a lot of time to get a fire going.

Finally, you might not think about flame height when considering the best campfire starter for survival situations, but this fire starter has you covered! The FireFlame Quick Instant Fire Starter creates tall flames that reach anywhere from eight to 13 inches high.

Tall flames are an incredibly helpful characteristic for a survival fire because the taller the flames, the easier it is for others who might be in the area to notice your fire and find you.

4. Melt Candle Company Fire Starter 

Are you new to the world of campfire starters? This Melt Candle Company Fire Starter might be the product for you!

One of the best parts about these fire starters is that they burn well when used with both wet and dry wood. This means that you won’t have to stress out about whether or not your fire will start in a variety of weather conditions.

Melt Candle Company Fire Starter - Fire Starter Pack for Chimney, Grill Pit, Fireplace, Campfire, BBQ & Smoker - Water Resistant and Odourless - Camping Accessories

Because some other campfire starters can be finicky or even totally ineffective when used on damp wood, the Melt Candle Company Fire Starter is the perfect option for amateur survivalists who might not be able to figure out how damp a piece of wood actually is.

As far as fire starters go, this product lasts a fairly long time and burn for an average of ten minutes. Every minute counts for people who are new to starting fires, and this campfire starter will certainly help with that!

Some campfire starters can seem a little intimidating based on the level of care or attention they require, but the Melt Candle Company Fire Starters are the exact opposite. Whether this is your first time starting a campfire or you’ve been doing it for years, these campfire starters will work for you!

5. Superior Trading Co. All Natural Fire Starters

Last but certainly not least, the best campfire starter for survivalists who want to keep their environmental impact small is the Superior Trading Co. All Natural Fire Starters.

These fire starters consist of natural wood shavings coated in food-grade wax. Because they don’t contain any chemicals or other artificial materials, they’re great to use for cooking fires!

Another perk of these all-natural fire starters is that they don’t release any unfamiliar smells that would stink up your campsite.

All Natural Fire Starters.15-20 Minute Burn for BBQ, campfire, charcoal, fire pit, wood & pellet stove, 30 Extra Large Waterproof for Indoor/Outdoor Made in USA

Even though their ingredients list is super simple, these fire starters still work incredibly well!

Superior Trading Co. All Natural Fire Starters catch easily and burn for a fairly long time. They do require some kindling to get going, but this definitely shouldn’t turn you off from making a purchase.

One thing to keep in mind about these campfire starters is that they’re on the more expensive end as far as fire starters go. However, they’re well worth the price for the peace of mind they’ll give you!

Ultimately, these fire starters are safe to use, and they do a lot for a product that looks so simple.

What to Consider When Purchasing a Campfire Starter

There are a few different factors that are helpful to think about when deciding which of these options is the best campfire starter for your needs.


One of the most important considerations to keep in mind is your budget.

Campfire starters are available in a wide range of quantities and prices, so you’ll be able to easily find a product that doesn’t break the bank!

Skill Level

Another aspect that you might want to consider is your skill level or level of comfort when dealing with campfire starters.

If this is your first time using campfire starters or if you don’t plan to use them very often, you’ll probably want to chose a product that you can just throw in the fire and let it do its thing.

Fire Starter

Some campfire starters require additional steps or need more attention paid to them as they burn, so you may also want to steer clear of products like those if you’re a beginner.

Weather Conditions

A third characteristic that you may not have already thought about is the potential weather conditions in which you’ll be camping or hiking. Specifically, it would be a good idea to evaluate how much rain or snow the area gets during a particular season.

This is important to think about because some fire starters work better with wet wood than others.

If you plan to spend time in an area that’s prone to wet or rainy weather or if you like to hike and camp during the winter, you should make sure to purchase a campfire starter that is able to start a fire successfully using both wet and dry wood.

You should also take similar considerations if you spend time in areas that are especially windy.

Environmental Impact

Finally, one more factor that you might want to consider is the environmental impact of the campfire starter you choose.

Some campfire starters are made out of materials that could be toxic to plants and animals in the surrounding area. Others may leave an artificial residue once you’re done burning them.

If you’re looking to leave as small an environmental footprint as possible, be sure to look for campfire starters that use natural ingredients.

Campfire Starter FAQs

If you’re still wondering which campfire starter is the one for you, here are some prompts that might answer any remaining questions you have.

Is there any advantage to using a campfire starter made of wood over a campfire starter made of a different material?

Not really! Out of the products on our list, the wood-based fire starters are just as effective as the non-wood-based fire starters. While it really depends on the individual product, there’s no overall rule that wood campfire starters are generally more effective.

One of the main reasons that you might want to use wood campfire starters over non-wood ones is due to the environmental impact.

Starting a Fire With Cotton

Specifically, if you’re looking for a campfire starter made out of only natural materials, a wood-based starter might be a better option.

Just pay close attention to that ingredients list!

Do campfire starters need kindling to work or can they start a fire by themselves?

It really depends on the product! Most fire starters need some sort of kindling surrounding them in order to start a long-lasting fire. Kindling often makes fire starters’ jobs easier by acting as an in-between for the fire starters and the bigger logs.

However, the most effective campfire starters only need a little bit of natural kindling to get the job done. That’s what makes them so attractive to fire builders of all skill levels and abilities.

For example, the Lightning Nuggets Fire Starters need very little kindling to assist them, while the Superior Trading Co. All Natural Fire Starters need a little bit more help.

The best way to figure out how much kindling you’ll need to start your emergency fire using a campfire starter might just be to experiment with it! After a couple uses, you’ll be a pro at measuring the amount of kindling required to successfully work with your fire starter.

How do I properly store a campfire starter?

Like many factors related to campfire starters, their storage might vary a little per each particular product.

However, one of the most important care instructions for pretty much all fire starters is to keep them in a dry area!

Fire Starting Materials

When campfire starters are exposed to too much moisture prior to use, they might not burn as long or might not even start at all because they’re way too water-logged.

The best way to combat this problem is to store your fire starters in a cool, dry place where they won’t experience flooding or other leakage.

In addition, if you purchase some fire starters that don’t come individually packaged, you might want to consider placing them into a plastic bag or other plastic container so that they have an added layer of protection against the elements.

Finding the Best Fire Starter for You

Now that you’ve heard all our top picks for the best campfire starter in emergency situations, it’s time to pick one out for yourself!

Our list has great options for all sorts of camping needs and for survivalists of every budget and experience level.

If you’re interested in learning more about the proper techniques and materials for building the perfect fire for any occasion, check out our Campfire & Survival Fire page for additional information.