Granny's Country Store > Wilderness Survival > Swedish Fire Steel | Search | View Cart
Swedish Fire Steel Emergency Fire Starter
Start fires easily with 3,000ºC (5,000ºF) sparks!
Quality fire-starters you can keep on your key chain or in a survival kit.
An emergency fire-starter is only useful if you have it when you need it! Sure, you can put a fire-starter in a survival kit, but then you have to remember to take the kit with you everywhere you go. What happens if you leave it in the car, because you are only going on a "short walk", and end up straying farther away than you planned? What happens if you bring your survival kit on a camping trip, but leave it at camp because you "won't be far away?" What happens if you have an emergency situation a quarter mile from camp, and cannot get back with a broken leg, or can't quite figure out where camp is?
I spent years searching for the ideal emergency fire-starter--one that is easy to use and small enough to keep on a keychain at all times. I never imagined it would be so hard to find a good one, when fire-starters are sold in nearly every sporting good store and all over the internet.
Emergency fire-starters come under many different types and names, such as magnesium and steel, metal match, ferrocerium, or misch metal. Unfortunately, a few of them are nearly impossible to start a fire with. To be fair, most emergency fire-starters work very well, but they are simply too bulky to carry with you at all times, and key chain models are seldom durable enough for the abuses of rattling around in a pocket with your keys.
The Swedish Fire Steel from Light My Fire is the best compact fire starter we have found, and it comes in two sizes. The larger Army Model (12,000 strikes) is ideal for camping and conventional survival kits. The Scout Model (3,000 strikes) is just barely small enough to carry on a key ring, so you always have it with you. I removed the nylon cord and put the fire steel and striker directly on my key ring.
Originally developed for the Swedish Department of Defense, Swedish Fire Steel is truly "a flash of genius". Its 3,000ºC (5,000ºF) spark makes fire building easy in any weather, at any altitude. The Swedish Fire Steel has been approved by the International Survival Instructors Association and is used by a number of armies around the world. Swedish Fire Steel's dependability makes it a favorite among survival experts, hunters, fishermen and campers. It works equally well when wet or dry. Swedish Fire Steel has even found its way into cabins and backyards as a fool-proof way to light stoves and gas-barbecues.
The easiest way to start a fire with your Swedish Fire Steel (or any other spark-based fire starter) is to use cotton balls (100% cotton only) mostly saturated with petroleum jelly. The cotton balls catch a spark quickly and make a small, hot fire you can add tinder and kindling to. You can prepare cotton balls with petroleum jelly and flatten them to store in a small bag in your wallet. But that adds bulk in a hurry. (Flint and steel char cloth also works.) Even if you carry cotton balls or char cloth, it is essential to practice starting a fire without them.
To use your Swedish Fire Steel, look for dry, fluffy tinder, such as dry grass, and make a loose pile with it. Hold the Swedish Fire Steel in one hand and the striker in the other hand, and force the striker down the rod to produce sparks. Practice striking sparks into the grass until it ignites. It is helpful to hold the striker still and pull the Swedish Fire Steel back, so that you can create sparks without knocking the pile over. After igniting the tinder, add more tinder and small kindling to build up the fire. I recommend getting two Swedish Fire Steels--one to practice on until you are proficient at using it, and the other to carry for emergencies. Note: The Handy-Sharp Knife Sharpener can be substituted for the steel striker, saving room on a survival keychain.
Also see these related pages:
Return to Granny's Country Store Home Page
The Always-With-You Compact Survival Kit
Flint & Steel Kits for Primitive Fire Making
Bowdrill and Handdrill Sets for Primitive Fire Making
Fire Plow Sets for Primitive Fire Making
Fire Pistons for Primitive Fire Making
Fresnel Lens Card Magnifier