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So you think you know about Firelighters?

Asked what firelighters are for we’d all leap to the obvious answer. But could most people describe this wonderful tool in much greater detail? Well, the truth is there’s so much more to the firelighter than people might expect. For example, did you know firelighters generally contain a combination of wood shavings and paraffin wax? But there are many other interesting aspects of course. So if you’re serious about igniting the perfect fire for your exact requirements, it’s important to delve deeper into the world of the fantastic firelighter.

Natural FirelightersWhat is a Firelighter?

In simple terms, it’s a smallish solid fuel tablet or block used to help ignite a fire. But in these heady days of 21st century consumerism, firelighters are cleverly marketed as a must-have product for your wood-burning stove, solid-fuel portable stove or coal fire. In fact, we can add several other burning devices to the list.

A brief history

People have always needed fire, and from the days humans first populated the earth a number of ingenious methods have been used. These include rubbing flints together to create a spark or making use of the hand-drill method by rolling a stick at speed against a rock with bark strategically placed to catch any resulting embers. Fire ploughs utilising friction and even rubbing sticks together, have also been used to make fire. Nearly all these processes were time-consuming, with success also depending on the climate. Fast forward to modern high-performance energy firelighters like ‘Zip’ who invented a firelighter containing kerosene in 1936. Since then, many other products have arrived on the market. Here are just a few:


  • Grenadier Electric is guaranteed to light all solid fuels including wood, coal and smokeless fuel
  • Eco firelighters are ideal for grills and fires
  • Single-block multi-purpose firelighters are perfect for solid fuel appliances
  • Natural firelighters are fast and clean to suit all fires
  • Burner Barrel firelighters are completely odourless
  • Samba Firelighters are ideal for wood burners
  • Flamer Firelighters are superb for the environment
  • Wrapped firelighters are long burning, clean and convenient

What are Firelighters made from?

Today’s impressive range utilise a number of tried and tested ingredients, some better for the environment than others, but all safe and easy to use. Palm kernel and coconut oil is a popular eco choice as they are clean and efficient. You’ll find kerosene is used in many firelighter products, and yes, good old talc can help maintain a good burn. There are firelighters made from twisted sustainable wood, wool and wax along with those using compressed wood shaving strands. There are cubes, squares, sticks and tablets. It really boils down to personal choice and if you have a multi-fuel or wood burner. Creating a modern fire couldn’t be easier.

 The benefits 

  • Natural firelighters take the guess work of fire building by providing a reliable way to ignite coals and firewood quickly and safely
  • They are simple to use, clean, generally odourless and leave little mess
  • Ease of use and reliability save you a lot of time and inconvenience
  • Firelighters enable you to ignite a fire at any time in comfort
  • They are very easy to store
  • Ignition is possible even when damp
  • Modern burners are made with firelighter use in mind

How to light a well-balanced fire 

Achieving the perfect burn is always possible with the right preparation. The first thing you’ll need to do is open the air controls of your burner – these may come in various shapes and sizes but the concept is the same. Once this is done, it’s time to open the burner door ready to create your firebed. Remember, if the burner is multi-fuel then firelighters and kindling will be placed on the grate; for the woodburning version it’s the firebed itself. You’ll need lots of kindling for a hot firebox, which in turn will help flue performance. At this point, it’s a case of waiting for the kindling to catch alight, also noting the condition of the air inlet holes which are vital for circulating air back in to help reignite combustible gasses efficiently. It’s best to leave the door slightly open for a while to avoid the build up of condensation. You can add a little more split wood, but not full logs yet, just to keep the momentum going – build the fire gradually without putting too many logs on and smothering the flames. Never go above the log guard of course, and ensure any secondary combustion air inlets are clear before closing the door. This will all become second nature in time. And, of course, keeping the equipment as clean as possible will help with all of this.

An essential tool

Firelighters are an essential part of your burning process and there is certainly a great choice on the market. It’s all about doing your homework and discovering the best firelighter for both your burner and requirements. Whether warming or entertaining at any time of year, there’s still nothing quite like the feel of a well-created fire or barbeque. Now, hopefully, you’ve discovered a lot more about the fantastic firelighter.

Read: Interesting article about Firelighters.