Testing $1 fire starters from Walmart. Insta-Fire and Firestart
While browsing the camping section at Walmart I saw two fire starters that were under a dollar. As you know, I am a bit of a pyro and wanted to test these out and see if they were the next big survival fire starter that I need to add to my supplies.
The first product is the “As Seen on Shark Tank” product called Insta-fire. I’ll call this the Dippin’ Dots fire starter. It claims to be:
- Does not contain harmful chemicals
- Good for camping, emergency, fireplace, or campfire
- “Military Grade”! — Oooo… Fancy…
- Lights wet wood because it burns at 1000 degrees
- Burns on snow and floats on water
- Nonvolatile with no unexpected flare-ups
- Burns in winds up to 30 mph
- Has a 5 year shelf life, and more…
The second product is an indoor/outdoor fire log by Duraflame called Firestart. It more or less resembles the inside goo of a Fig Newton with bits of wood chips in it. It is sticky and I ended up tearing the wrapping while trying to get it out of the packaging.
Taking both products outside, I tried lighting a US quarter sized piece of each. The ferro rod was not able to ignite either one so I switched to my trusty Zippo lighter and held the flame to each product for over 10 seconds. The Firestart did not light and the Insta-Fire lit for a few seconds before going out. It wasn’t even a particularly windy day and I was blocking the flame with my hand and huddled in a corner. The Insta-Fire claims to burn in winds up to 30 mph, but the trick is first lighting the darn thing.
Having no success outside I wanted to give them the best shot possible and took them into the garage. This time I took a book of matches and figured if I couldn’t light them by the time the match burned out then I wasn’t interested in it. The Firestart took a light but burned such a small flame that didn’t spread to the rest of the piece. The Insta-Fire caught flame and burned decently for a few seconds before self extinguishing itself again and leaving many unburnt pieces behind.
Okay… So far this is very disappointing. Lets try Insta-Fires’s bold claim of being able to float and light on water. This time I wasn’t messing around and poured in 1/4 of the bag into a cup of water. And the Dippin’ Dots fire starter did float! It also lit into a good sized flame. I lit the Firestart and placed that in the water to see if it would float and it just instantly sunk and went out.
Overall I would give the Firestart a 0/10 for survival and prepping purposes. As a fire log in a fireplace it might have some potential, but I will not trust this to start an emergency fire. It just doesn’t hold a flame well enough or burn hot and large enough to do much good.
The Insta-Fire gets a 2/10. One point for being cool and burning on water, and one point for at least lighting into a semi-usable flame if you put 1/4 of the package together. But again, not trusting this for an emergency situation. It’s problem is that you do need to use a large cup of it to actually do anything with and all the pieces don’t burn before it extinguishes itself. One of it’s main claims is to be nonvolatile and not flare up, but I want it to! I want it to catch fire easily, spread to all the pieces and burn completely.
I’ll just stick to my cotton balls and vaseline for now. They catch easily, burn very long, produce a large and hot flame, and are DIRT cheap!