How to Choose the Best Natural Firelighter
Natural firelighters are a no smell, no-mess way to start up a warming blaze in your hearth, wood burner or BBQ – here’s how to choose the best natural firelighter.
Choose No Odour
Natural firelights are made from materials that don’t include smelly chemicals. Traditionally firefighters were made from kerosene and formaldehyde resin formed into white sticks. They gave off an unpleasant chemical smell that filled your room and impregnated food in pizza ovens or charcoal-fired BBQ.
It’s best to avoid firelighters with odour because they ruin the whole blazing hearth fire and tasty BBQ experience. In their place choose scent-free, no odour natural firelighters made from pine strips and natural wax coatings
The Best Materials
Natural firelighters are usually spun woods or compressed sawdust. The best are made from pine strips, beechwood chippings, or other types of recycled wood from industry.
On top of the wood chippings or strips (which are sometimes confusingly called ‘wool’) the best natural firelighters need a wax coating.
A wax coating prevents firelighters from getting damp and helps the fire catch hold. Natural waxes include a variety of vegetable waxes. However, sometimes ‘natural’ firelighters will use refined paraffin. This is derived from petroleum, and therefore uses up fossil fuels.
Firelighters with vegetable wax or paraffin wax both burn effectively.
Keep It Eco-friendly
The best natural firelights are kind to the environment and sustainably sourced. Keep an eye out for the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) label. This certification shows that the wood is sourced from sustainable sites that benefit workers, communities and biodiversity.
You can also look for locally-produced natural firelighters from farms or businesses in the UK. There are plenty available and it will help reduce your carbon footprint.
On top of this, recycled/recyclable boxes, bags and postage material will make your firelighters even more eco-friendly – every bit helps the environment!
Which Size Should I Buy?
You’d think that bigger natural firelighters would last longer and be better at establishing a full blaze, but this isn’t always the case.
Look for firelighters with compacted, pressed materials. They burn for a long time and are easier to store. Loosely twisted or woven firelighters only burn for a minute or two. You need at least 8-10 minutes to establish a roaring fire.
Natural Firelighter FAQs
Are natural firelighters any good?
Yes! Natural firelighters are made from wood chippings or shavings with a natural wax coating. They don’t contain chemicals or kerosene because they’re dense enough to sustain a flame for 8-10 minutes, which is long enough to establish a healthy hearth fire or a hot pizza oven.
How do you use natural firelighters?
Natural firelighters are used to start a fire, they don’t contain enough material to sustain a long blaze.
You should put them at the base of your stove/BBQ or chiminea and loosely place the wood, charcoal or briquettes on top. Then, light the firelighters with a long match or a long handheld lighter. Depending on the size of your fire, you may need more than one firelighter to start the fire effectively.
Be careful not to smother the firelighters with burning materials because they need oxygen to burn.
BBQs benefit from a spread of firelighters that create an even burn so all your food is evenly cooked – and ready at the same time!
Are natural firelighters good for the environment?
Usually yes. Natural firelighters are made from wood wool and coated in natural wax. Because they generally don’t contain chemicals, they are better for the environment, and your health, than traditional kerosene block firelighters.
There are a few points to consider though. First of all, if the firelighter is coated in paraffin wax, this is derived from petroleum which is a fossil fuel. This isn’t good for the environment. Additionally, if the firelighters are imported then their carbon footprint will be large compared to locally made goods. Keep an eye out for eco-friendly packaging too. If they arrive in thick, unrecyclable plastic then this is another factor that isn’t good for the environment.
Finally, look for the FSC certification label. This will indicate that the wood has come from a sustainable, more environmentally-friendly source.