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Eight great ways to set things ablaze

4 December 2017

Lion Safety Matches are a household brand name and arguably the most common manner to start a fire in SA. We shed some (fire)light on alternative ways to set things ablaze, whether at home, at your campsite or in a survival situation.

1 Bear Grylls Fire Starter

Famous British adventurer Bear Grylls has served in the British SAS, scaled Mount Everest, has tons of outdoor survival and adventure experience and hosts his own survival television show. He and Gerber (multi-tool and knife manufacturer, not the baby food) have partnered together to produce the Bear Grylls Survival Series of knives, tools and gear.

One of these is the compact fire starter, which contains a ferrocerium rod and metal striker sealed within a watertight storage compartment to keep the tinder completely dry. It comes with a lanyard that has an emergency whistle integrated into its cord and has land to air rescue instructions. Of course, Bear Grylls is extremely practiced and can get a fire going with only a strike or two. You, however, may need a little longer…

Price R370

2 Survival Firesteel Bracelet

The Boswa survival bracelet comes with an integrated mini firesteel, striker and a survival whistle. The bracelet is made from woven parachute cord or paracord (a lightweight nylon rope that was used in the suspension lines of parachutes during World War II) that can be unravelled to become useful in a survival situation, for instance to mark a trail or to lash branches together to build a basic shelter. We like the fact that you can clip it onto your arm and forget about it, until you need it.

Price  R125
Where  Boswa Survival

3 Tinder-on-a rope

To get a fire to burn, you need tinder. Swedish company Light My Fire has come up with Tinder-on-a-Rope, which is exactly that. The tinder is made from stumps of cultivated pine from the highlands of Honduras and is attached to a lanyard. These tinder starters are easy to light as they have an 80% resin content and work even when wet, since it is the resin (oil) that burns, not the wood. According to the manufacturer, “they burn long and hot and they are the perfect companion and ultimate, natural way to start a fire in
any weather”.

Price $4.97 (around R65)

4 Green Lite Eco-Firelighters

Green Lite Manufacturing has developed the Green Light Eco Firelighters in a bid to do something positive for the environment by promoting sustainable, earth-friendly living. The firelighters, made in South Africa, are completely paraffin-free, have a low odour and are made from recyclable materials that are fuelled by clean-burning vegetable oils. The product is SABS safety tested and available in various Kwik Spar, Spar and SuperSpars in the Western Cape and Gauteng, as well as some stockists in the Eastern Cape, and online.

Price R23–R25

5 Zippo rugby lighter

The Zippo lighter needs no introduction, has a durable design and even if it gets wet, there is still a chance of getting it to light, unlike a butane lighter. In addition, according to, if you remove the fibre from the bottom of the Zippo and replace it with tightly stuffed pure cotton, it can be used as an emergency fire starter if you run out of lighter fluid.

To use this method: remove some of the cotton and then use the flint spark wheel to ignite it. Rugby fans may prefer a Sharks, Bulls, Stormers or SA Rugby-branded Zippo lighter to the regular polished or brushed chrome, but either way, this 84-year-old invention will be more reliable than a regular box of matches.

Price R500–R545

6 TinderDust and FireSteel combo

If you’re not keen on finding your own tinder or shaving it off a tinder stick, you can buy ready- shaved TinderDust. These tinder stick shavings are conveniently packaged in a waterproof container that’s easy to carry in your pocket or backpack. To light this or the tinder that you’ve shaved off your Tinder-on-a-Rope, use the Light My Fire Swedish firesteel.

Price  $19.95 (R260)

7 Coghlan’s Magnesium Fire Starter

This simple magnesium fire starter can generate a flame source of nearly 3 000°C and will even spark when wet. One Fire Starter should provide sufficient shavings to light hundreds of fires and you can attach this magnesium block to your keys or backpack.

Price  R99
Where Camp and Climb

8 Coghlan’s Storm Waterproof Matches

If you’re determined to go with matches outdoors, Coghlan makes these weatherproof matches that are designed to burn even while wet. These fire starters were specifically developed for the UK Ministry of Defence and are NATO-approved. The match head burns for 10 seconds, even after immersion in water, and can’t be extinguished by wind. The waterproof tub that holds the matches comes with two striker surfaces.

Price R90
Where Camp and Climb

Text: Elise Kirsten