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Firelighter 101 – a guide to the basics

A man uses some string as a firelighter to light an outdoor fire of sticks

The night is suffocating. A blackened embrace. You move slowly though the brush with ears pricked. Dilated pupils search the darkness. A sudden sound equals death. There are monsters out here. Step by careful step you move closer to safety. The hard and impenetrable security of rock pushes you onward. Your cave means protection.

Finally you make it. Your hands are numb from the cold, frost biting every pore. Heat. Your body craves it. You fumble for your pouch of dried fungi.  This will be your firelighter. You can hardly feel it but you manage to dump out a small pile. Arms weary you reach for that small nugget of pyrite and your axe. Fatigue weighs within. Yet you must persist. With that last grain of effort you strike the blade with the stone. Nothing. You strike again. Nothing. You strike again and again and again. Soon precious sparks jump forth from each collision, falling away into your fungi pile. Survival is a strong motivator. More strikes. More sparks. More smoke. Tiny flames lick up your pile, like a serpent’s tongue. Fire. You live to see another day.


Let’s get the firelighter party started

We know what you’re thinking; thank heavens I am not a Neanderthal living in the Middle Palaeolithic period. Yes indeed the firelighter issue back then was one of effort, necessity and survival.  These days making fires and using a firelighter or natural firelighters is a breeze – so we can all sleep a little easier. However there is always more to learn and knowledge to refine. Join us as we light the spark of investigation into the mighty firelighter.


A natural firelighter cube is lit burning with a small flame


How to use firelighters?

Yes using a firelighter or natural firelighters is pretty straightforward. However we don’t want you to just blindly go through the motions like some incendiary-based automaton. It’s always beneficial to know even the most basic things on a deeper and more comprehensive level. So let’s begin. In a digestible treat of explanation, fire making, fire lighting or fire craft is the process of starting a fire artificially. Ok blog done. Just yanking your metaphorical chain. So this is obvious stuff. However now the rhetorical plot starts to thicken. Fire making involves the fire triangle.  We’re not talking geometry here people. We are referring to the three components needed to light and maintain a fire. Three elements. Three points. A triangle. Basically you need heat, fuel and oxygen for fire success. If any one of these things is removed, the ‘triangle’ will collapse and your fire will go out. Massive sad face.

A firelighter cluster burns brightly surrounded by flames


Firelighter mechanics

So you’ve got your fire triangle on point (pun sooooo intended), but where does your firelighter fit into the formula? Fires start from raising a tinder’s temperature until it combusts. Tinder is a material that combusts first, as a flame or ember, and in doing so it heats other denser material (such as kindling, twigs and so on) until it burns. So basically your firelighters take on the catalytic roll, acting as the gateway to igniting your tinder, which in turn ignites your principal wood fuel.

Unlike our ancient ancestors, we have all elements of the fire triangle at our disposal no hassles at all. As you are reading this, some poor caveman is turning in his grave lamenting the fact that wasn’t around back then. Back to the point; sure we have all of the natural firelighters and firelighters we could ever need. However convenience doesn’t eclipse complexity. When it comes to a firelighter, there are things you need to consider such as materiality, sustainability and chemical composition. Plus there is skill and tekkers involved in lighting fires for any purpose. So let’s skip further down the firelighter hole together.


Natural is nicer

Just a word of advice here you lovely lot: we would recommend keeping your firelighters natural if possible – especially if you are cooking or grilling. Many firelighters contain chemical agents, accelerants and other things that will seriously affect the taste and chemical content of your food. For normal fires you can get away with synthetic firelighters, but why wouldn’t you want to keep things as natural as possible if you can? Great, so you’re digging the natural vibe, but what are the options out there? Hang tight as we give you the natural firelighter product low down.


A close up shot of a wood wool firelighter cluster


Find all the natural firelighters you could ever need at

When it comes to natural firelighters we have all the lovely stuff. First up our Eco Friendly Firelighter Cubes These carbon neutral lovelies come in a pack of 96 and are made from renewable vegetable wax. Pick some up for a snip at £3.49. Next feed your firelighter fixation with our Woodies Natural Wood Wool Firelighters FSC®. Each firelighter is produced from FSC certified wood as well as wool and wax. They are safe and easy to use delivering a healthy 7 minute burn time. Get yours for just £3.49. Finally if you’re a bit of neat freak or deep into storage organisation, you can enjoy Woodies Natural Wood Wool Firelighters FSC® in a box. They are exactly the same as regular Woodies, but they come in neat and tidy box. For just £14.99 you would be off your box not add some to your fiery arsenal.

How to light a BBQ with firelighters?

Now you know the main players, it’s time to step into the game. So how do you light a BBQ with firelighters? Read on for the revelation.

Start with a stack

The stacking technique is tried and true. It’s so easy; basically take your charcoal and stack the pieces to form a pyramid or mound.  Become a BBQ architect and think about space. In other words make sure that you leave gaps between the individual pieces. This is all about increasing the airflow through the pile, as well as increasing the oxygen exposed charcoal surface area. Holistically this method makes lighting your BBQ quick and efficient.  The pyramid structure also increases coal-to-coal contact, helping the fire to spread.

Some wood shavings chiselled from a log become a natural firelighter

BBQ firelighters how to use?

Now we will need firelighters to get the fire going. Take your natural firelighters and simply slot them into some of the gaps in your stack of charcoal. You can also integrate them into your pyramid as you are making your pile. Once done all you need to do is light your firelighters and let the flames catch.

How to light a coal fire with firelighters?

Moving from charcoal to coal, the fire lighting methodology remains more of less the same. The key lies in creating a small combustion chamber. This will create an initial focal point for you heat, as well as allowing your fire temperature to increase quicker and spread faster. You can follow the charcoal approach outlined above, creating a slightly smaller and lower stack. Alternatively, here’s a slightly different approach to help you on your merry way.

  • First ensure that your fire grate is spick-and-span
  • Simply place two of your firelighters in the middle of your fire great
  • Construct a small stack of kindling around the firelighters (your mini combustion chamber). Ensure to leave gaps in your stack to facilitate airflow and therefore initial combustion
  • Ignite your firelighters
  • Gradually fill the gaps with some additional kindling
  • Now place your coal into the fire so it is surrounded by as much flames and heat as possible

We hope all this talk of the amazing firelighter has lit your fire to go out there and fire up your grill or fire at home. Stay tuned for more blog-eriffic truth dropping soon.