on June 1, 2007
Firesteel IS a great tool for starting fires. it sparks great and starts fires no problem. it took me 3 strikes to start my first fire. didn't need to scrape the coating off, either.
Firesteel IS NOT a magic wand that you can wave around and command a fire to start on anything. you still need to prepare for a fire, i.e. tinder, kindling, etc. and aim where you are throwing those sparks. It works very easy, but you still need to understand the basic concept of fire starting before you question whether it works or not.
I would definitely depend on this tool in a survival situation!
on February 26, 2009
This is a high quality firesteel and works very well. It takes a little practice and some basic firebuilding skills to be able to use it effectively. With a little coaching even my 9 year old son was able to light several fires with various types of tinder. You need to use good tinder and practice your technique to get a good shower of hot sparks right where you need them.
My son recently did a science fair project where where we experimented with several different types of tinder and ignition sources to see which was the best way to build a fire in the wilderness. We tested everything we could get our hands on in both wet and dry conditions. Everything worked OK when dry but after we soaked tinder, matches, lighters, etc. the list got a lot shorter. The lighters and regular matches were all useless. The lighters (butane) eventually dried out and worked again)Waterproof matches still worked but you can only carry so many of these - some broke and some didn't light. The firesteel and Coughlin magnesium block still worked but it took forever to scrape the magnesium block, the shavings kept blowing away, then when we applied the spark the magnesium shavings flashed and were gone almost instantly. We were able to make it work but it was a pain and dulled my knife. Some say to use the back of your knife blade to avoid this.
The best combination(s) when wet was waterproof matches or the fire steel and cotton balls soaked with vaseline and some of the commercial tinders including wet fire pellets and coughlin fire sticks. We scraped the wet fire pellets and fire sticks and scraped the firesteel to send a shower of sparks into the the small particles of tinder. The result was an instant fire that didn't blow out easily. These things lit even when wet. I can usually get a fire going in 1 - 5 scrapes. The resulting flame from the tinder was steady in the wind and also lit our kindling (dry sticks, pine needles etc) easily.
We gathered all sorts of tinder at home and in the woods and found lots of things that worked. Cotton balls and dryer lint work great. Any cotton or fuzz from plants works, fine dry leaves as well. I can light shredded paper without too much work. Fine dry grass (shredded / pounded and fuzzed up if necessary) and certain types of tree moss light easily. The finer the tinder the easier it is to light. Cattail fuzz is extremely flammable and lights easily. I had difficulties lighting pine pitch scrapings with sparks but included them in my tinder nest to sustain a fire long enough to get kindling going.
Bottom line is these things work and are a fail safe way to start a fire if you have basic fire building skills. This includes carrying or gathering dry tinder, making a nest for the spark, and having kindling and larger firewood pre-gathered to build and sustain your fire once you get it started. I carry one as an absolutely reliable way to start a fire if I need one. I also carry some waterproof matches, a Bic butane Lighter and some commercial tinder (wet fire or fire sticks). Of all these methods I have the most faith in the firesteel. It was also a lot of fun to learn how to use.
on July 5, 2007
Lanyard is plenty long and it makes lots of sparks (after a couple of scrapes to remove the paint). If lanyard was not long enough one could exercise ingenuity and put on a longer cord.
It would easily light propane, but if you try to ignite a piece of sheet paper you will have trouble. Sheet paper is not fine enough and is not proper tinder (though you could shred and rumple it to make good tinder). You need a finer tinder bundle. Paper towel was also unsuccessful. I had easy success with toilet paper and dryer lint. It sparks more if you slow down and increase pressure a little. If the woods are wet and you can find no dry tinder you are in trouble, which is why most people carry tinder or fire starter or pick it up on the trail when they can.
I think it is easier to use the magnesium fire starter with a basic metal jigsaw blade as the magnesium shavings will ignite paper towel easily, and can also ignite paper if you make a dime sized pile of shavings (when igniting paper don't set the end of the magnesium fire starter on the paper as when you scrape the flint the vibrations will jiggle the shavings all around). Even better than a jigsaw blade may be a short hacksaw blade because it has a good hole you can put the cord through.
In summary: if you carry or can find/make good tinder the Swedish firesteel is tough, simple, and a good product. For normal people who want a firestarter that is somewhat easier to use carry the magnesium. That is what I will carry, in addition to good tinder (cotton balls with vaseline mushed in), and a very good lighter (more lights/space than matches).
P.S. Just watched Bear G. in Man vs. Wild (Discovery channel) use this after a major rainstorm starting a fire on the first strike BECAUSE he had previously harvested and protected some very good tinder. He did not use a magnesium firestarter. It does produce a 5,500°F spark, but it needs a purchase (tinder). Also I want to repeat that the lanyard I got was plenty long, but hey it's just a piece of cord that you can cut. Live bold. Also the first time I tried to make sparks I made plenty. I do not see how someone could not (unless they had the metal striker upside down - read the directions!).
P.P.S. Watched Bear G. in Ecuador (?) NOT be able to start a fire with grass using this because everything was wet and darkness came in not enabling him to search for better (dry) tinder. With typical Bear pluck he stuffed his shirt with the grass for insulation and kept his chin up. I bet the mag would have started a fire.
P.P.P.S. Watched 'Survivorman' take a mag starter out into the desert and easily start a fire, but he used the edge of his knife to make shavings and strike the flint. I don't reccomend dulling a knife like this, use the back or anything else. Also he CARVED off magnesium and I have found just SCRAPING works well. Finally on the magnesium starter the flint is a small rod on the side and you don't whack it like in Jeremiah Johnson, but you just scrape it. I think I read one reviewer that broke his flint and I bet he was whacking it, just like in the movies.
This is a long review because this is a survival tool and you should have confidence in it's capabilities.
on December 26, 2006
This "flint" is more expensive than the magnesium bars but it is a little more convinient for making sparks because it has a small handle and an attached striker (you have to find your own tender). I did not have a problem using the attached striker as another reviewer did. I also skipped the step of taking the paint off. I just scraped firmly and the ammount of sparks was crazy. My only complaint is the price but if it lasts as long as claimed it is a bargain compared to matches or lighters.
on November 22, 2007
The Swedish FireSteel Army Model is a substantial hunk of flint. At approx 3/8" diameter and 2-1/2" length it should last for many years of repeated use. I tested this flint against 2 others I have: a combo flint/magnesium, and a survival mini-flint inlaid in a whistle. Quite honestly, all three worked about the same in a garage test using a cotton ball as my fire starter, but the mini-flint shows immediate signs of abrasion. The fire starter material (tinder) is the key element. If you have a good fire starter tinder, it doesn't take much of a spark to ignite it.
I was not impressed with the included striker; I got better spark using a knife blade.
FYI: the FireSteel Army Model Flint has a black surface coating that has to scraped off before the flint is functional.
In summary, I would definitely recommend the Swedish FireSteel Army Model, but it may be overkill depending upon your needs.
on March 8, 2011
This new 2.0 model is great! Good ergonomics and much better scraper. Works just as it is advertised. Note: Be sure to use the proper tinder with this firesteel or any other firesteel. I've read several reviews stating these do not work well. I can only say that those reviewers are either not using this firesteel properly and/or not using the proper type of tinder. I have several other firesteels as well as this Light My Fire and all work fine. I particularily like my Orange Army model in case it is lost in the woods or can be found quickly in low light conditions. I am going to purchase a yellow 2.0 Scout model next to keep in my car. I only wish they made the Army model in yellow, but I can live with that. Amazon had a super quick delivery as always. Everyone should have one of these handy in case of emergencies or take along on your camping/backpacking outings. Buy one, now!
on August 11, 2012
There are a handful of items I won't go hiking/camping without. The Swedish Firesteel from Light My Fire is one of them. The design is simple: a ferrocerium rod & a stainless steel striker held together with a nylon cord. When you draw the striker along the ferrocerium rod, the teeth on the striker shave off small pieces of the rod in the form of sparks. The sparks burn at roughly 2000 degrees. The true worth of this product is that neither extreme wet or extreme cold will affect the Light My Fire; it will always create sparks (by contrast, lighters and matches are vulnerable to the elements). Plus, for the price point, I've bought numerous Light My Fire(s) and have them in my car, tool box, and hiking packs. I've had my original Light My Fire for eight years, and use it often, it is still going strong. Like any tool, you need to practice with the Light My Fire. Honestly though, you'll get the hang of it the first couple times you use it--the Light My Fire is designed to work.
The process for using the Light My Fire for starting a fire is pretty simple:
1. Gather tinder, kindling and fuel. For tinder, I like to use drier lint that I collect ahead of time and keep in a sealed plastic sandwich bag. Also, I've used cotton balls smeared with vasoline (and stored in old film cannisters). You can also shave wood from the bark or body of a dry tree, and use that for tinder. for kindling, I try and find dry, dead wood about the thickness of my little finger. Finally, for fuel, I try and find dry, dead wood about the thickness of my wrist. With kindling and fuel wood, try to get wood directly from trees or piles of deadwood. Try to avoid picking wood that is laying on the ground, as it is more apt to be wet or damp.
Why three different things to make one fire??? Because each item "builds" on the previous item. The tinder is the easiest to set on fire, however it burns fast. So the tinder is used to make the initial flame. The kindling is used to feed that initial flame, and create an actual fire. The fuel is what actually feeds the fire, keeping you warm and allowing you to cook food.
2. Place your tinder where you want your fire to ultimately sit. Try and find somewhere dry and out of the wind. Make sure there isn't anything above your head, like a snowbank, that could fall on your fire and extinguish it. Point the Light My Fire ferrocerium rod at the tinder, a couple of inches above it. Scrape the striker along the rod, shaving off the ferrocerium in the form of sparks. The sparks will hit the tinder and set it on fire. It may take a couple of times for this to light; that's normal.
3. Once the tinder is lit, you need to start "building" the fire. Feed the fire with your kindling, by placing the small kindling sticks loosely on the fire. You want to place your kindling loosely, because you do not want to smother the flame. The flame that you initially made with your tinder and Light My Fire will catch on the kindling, and create a small fire.
4. Now, begin to feed your small fire with your fuel. As the tinder caught the kindling on fire, so will the kindling catch the fuel wood on fire. As with the the kindling, you want to feed the fuel into the fire loosely, so as not to smother the fire. You have now built your fire, and all you need to do is continue feeding the fire to keep it from dying.
The reason I went into detail on how to build the fire is that I have noticed that there is an unreal expectation as to what the Light My Fire Swedish Firesteel does. In reading the Amazon reviews, I see that there is a misunderstanding that you can walk around with a Light My Fire, flicking sparks at various objects, and that those objects will burst into flames. As you can see that is not so. The Light My Fire (and any other brand of firesteel) is merely the starting point for a proper fire--as long as you take the gather the tinder, kindling, and fuel wood to create a fire.
on February 7, 2011
I am an ultralight hiker and I love this thing! I keep it around my neck and because it has a whistle, I don't need to pack an extra one. If you had the Swedish Firesteel army (1.0) and bought this one you will notice that the firesteel on the 2.0 model is thinner. The grips are awesome and feel more durable than the last version. 1 thing to note is that if you are looking for gigantic sparks that will light anything, this may not be the product for you. If you are not very good at starting fires, you might want to look at a mishmetal striker. (You can pick them up from Goinggear.com) But since I am experienced in fires, I like this one. The whistle I think is a great idea. It is about as loud the the Jetscream whistle from Ultimate Survival Technologies. (Which is deafening) All in all, this is a great firesteel for the money and I highly recommend it.
on March 20, 2015
Product came exactly as pictured and described; and it came 3 days earlier than expected, which is always nice.
Works well. Tested it on a paper towel in my kitchen sink and it immediately set on fire. Takes a little practice getting the ideal striking angle and pressure, but no more than a few seconds. I even managed to use it to light a cigarette.
The whistle is all you can expect from one so small. It's fairly audible, but I'm not sure I'd want my life to depend on it. Instead, I attached a replica WWI trench whistle that I own to the rig. Problem solved.
My only real complaint is about the plastic clasp that holds the ends of the cord together. I opened it once (to add my whistle), and was not able to secure it again. Not a deal breaker, but definitely something you want to be aware of. The clasp is useless. I could easily see this being worn on my wrist, snagging on something, and coming undone. In an emergency survival situation, I would not want to lose this tool. I pitched the clasp and tied a firm not in the cord.
Overall, I am very happy with this purchase. I would recommend it to others.
on February 11, 2007
The Firesteel works! Soon after I purchased it I took my 12 year old children on a day trip to the Sierra snow. With a little practice and a wad of dryer lint, all three quickly masterd starting a fire in realistic survival conditions. The Firesteel generates a shower of sparks- all you need is dry tinder to get a fire started in minutes. Of course you can do the same with a Cricket lighter, but the Firesteel won't break, leak or otherwise deteriorate over time, so it is the perfect addition to a survival kit that you may need, say, about 10 years from now.