Weatherproof Tinders

  1. FireDragon Ethanol Gel – for easy extension of ignition source into a stable flame on any surface.
  2. Fatwood Sticks – ideal for dipping into ethanol gel, to easily transfer, extend & manipulate initial flame.
  3. Hell’s Fire Clay – for maximum ferocity once it gets going, this stuff burns like thermite!

FireDragon Ethanol Gel

There are many weatherproof tinders on the market but this is perhaps the most easy lighting and versatile option.

  • It’s flammable enough to take a spark quite well. It’s hit & miss with traditional flint & steel, but couldn’t be much easier with a good ferro rod.
  • It’s heavy enough that it doesn’t blow away in the wind. But if you’ve only used it on leaves & twigs, they might blow away.
  • It’s not so runny that it disappears as soon as it’s poured. But once lit, as it warms up, it liquidates – it pools and drips a bit.
  • It’s runny enough that you can easily dip sticks in it, for a thin coating without much waste. But after dipping a fatwood stick in the gel, since fatwood is quite resilient itself, it’s usually worth scraping excess gel off the sides of the stick, back into the container, to minimise wastage. Because ethanol gel is a precious resource, but fatwood is easily re-found in nature.
  • Although it doesn’t last as long as some tinders, its burn time is respectable. A heaped spoonful might burn for a few minutes for example. A bottleful should last many hours. Save it for getting fires started – combine it with wood to extend duration – don’t rely exclusively on this fuel to keep your fire going (except in emergency) else it won’t last long. Used sparingly, a small bottle of FireDragon gel can help you start hundreds if not thousands of fires.
  • It burns quite cleanly. It’s not pure ethanol but it still claims to be non-toxic, non-odorous, based on natural ingredients and suitable for sanitising hands & wounds. Take this advice with a pinch of salt since it’s not pure food-grade ethanol – it also contains a gelling agent, and a taste-aversion agent (denatonium benzoate – a mild respiratory irritant).
  • When lit, the flame is very durable. It won’t easily go out in wind or rain until all that’s lit is consumed. Just be careful of the gel dripping.

Buy on Amazon: £7 for a big 1 litre bottle or £6 for a small 200ml bottle with free delivery. Other stores may be cheaper but don’t forget delivery cost.

Not every bottle comes the same. Sometimes the gel is clean & clear. Sometimes it has a yellow tint. Sometimes it’s very runny, sometimes it’s quite dry. So you may wish to get a few bottles – observe any differences, play with whichever looks inferior, and keep the best in storage. They’re a great investment.

FireDragon ethanol gel
Mayan Flame fatwood sticks

Fatwood sticks

Fatwood, like birch bark, is readily available in nature and makes fantastic weatherproof tinder. Well worth getting familiar with.

But if you don’t live near pine trees, you might find it more convenient to buy a box full.

Mayan Flame do fatwood sticks (also known as maya sticks) in 5kg (10lb) boxes at £15 each. They’re mostly the right size for dipping into FireDragon bottles. Larger chunks would be better for storage, minimising the evaporation of volatile oils, but buying these sticks is far better than buying boxes of fatwood shavings (maya dust) which will dry up very fast and be no good before long.

After buying a box of these sticks, it’s worth transferring them in batches into airtight freezer bags to help preserve their volatile oils. Then just grab a bag or two if you need some for a trip.