Strike a Spark

Stylish Flint & Steel Fire Starter Takes it Back to Basics

Matches and lighters do just fine to start a camp fire or light up your fireplace, but they can’t compete with the old-school-cool of using a flint stone and a piece of metal to ignite a spark.  We recently got our hands on a neat little tool that takes fire starting back to basics.


The Kaufmann Mercantile Magnesium Fire Starter kit is composed of a flammable magnesium rod, steel striker and flint. A small pile of magnesium is shaved off with the striker, and the flint is used to set off some sparks that catch onto the pile and start a fire.


The fire starter is effective, easy to use and works really fast. While that by itself would be enough for us, this item is made even more appealing by its look. Each handmade piece has a naturally shed elk handle and a leather band, which gives it an attractive look. We also noticed the materials and design lend to a nice hand feel.

This item is ideal for campers trying to start a fire in damp or wet outdoor conditions. While standard methods like match books are useless if wet, magnesium can burn in water and is difficult to extinguish once it’s lit. These properties can help to warm and light up damp kindling as well.

Another thing that makes this tool perfect for campers is its weight. With only two thirds the density of aluminum, magnesium is extremely light.

We also love the peace of mind that comes with knowing the highly-flammable element won’t spontaneously auto-ignite in our pack since it’s very difficult to burn magnesium in bulk form.


While we love that we were able to start our fire in about two minutes, we could have set it aflame even quicker were it not for the wind blowing the shavings and kindling away. Unlike fluid-fuel lighters this one is almost impossible to use in the wind.


Lighting a fire can be a mundane and thoughtless task. With this stylish fire starter, it can be transformed into a satisfying back-to-basics experience.