To start with, I don’t know very much about magnesium or other fire-starters, so my review here might be moot for those more experienced.
There are a few main advantages to becoming skilled at using magnesium starters. First, piezo igniters, often used in gas canister stoves, is basically a crystal that is charged electrically and they begin to fail (work intermittently) at around 10k feet and hardly work at all at around 13k feet, whick means jet lighters won’t work either. Neither will regular flinter lighters like cheap bics. As they are pressurized and don’t work well in cold weather or high altitudes. Second, magnesium starters work when wet, flint lighters don’t work well when wet. Third, magnesium kicks off much greater and hotter sparks when wet than the flints on regular bic type lighters. And finally, most magnesium starters are built for thousands of sparks, vs. hundreds for regular lighter flints.
So, if you plan on travelling to cold climates or higher altitudes, never really owned one and are curious what a first timer’s experience is, read on.
I received these just a few days ago (I purchased two for bug out bags).
In terms of a flint creating a spark, my only other reference are lighters and I can definitely see that compared to a lighter, this thing produces a lot more sparks. As a birthday gift, I receive the Zippo flint and tinder that is in an orange zippo case. That solution works just fine and I love the all in one solution it provides, but the Magnesium fire starter is much more effective at producing sparks.
I’ve tested three methods for starting fires over the past few days, all using the aurora, and while some methods are more efficient than others, they all work, proving that these kinds of sparking tools are effective, and with 4K strikes, will last a long time and more importantly, have an indefinite shelf life as far as I can tell. Something that is of critical importance to me.
For those experience with starting fires, my efforts may seem trivial, but such as they are:
– cotton smeared with vaseline: 1-5 strike (less than 10 seconds to get a fire going, last about 4 minutes)
– twine soaked and dried in parafin wax: 10-20 strikes (about a minute to get a fire going, last about 2 minutes)
– super light hair-like dried weed tinder: 20-50 strikes (about 5 minutes to get a fire going, last about a minute)
– thin branch tinder: 100+ strikes (about 15 minutes to get a fire going, last about 2 minutes)
I’m sure with practice, I’ll improve those times for naturally found tinder, but in either case, this magnesium starter does work effectively.
– The long cap holds the metal striker blade in an idiot proof bracket
– There is an o-ring to protect the magnesium portion from getting wet….why I dunno, it works when wet
– It’s heavier than another magnesium starter i held in hand at a retail store
– The metal cap is largely unnecessary, making me think this is stylistic more than functional
– The price is expensive compared to others, but I think it’s because of that metal cap.
A cheaper one would do just fine.
– I you don’t mind a premium for that style, I have to admit, it does look good.
– There is an initial coating that you have to get through before striking produces any sparks, but just a few strikes and you’re through that layer.
I really believe, though, that you need a lot of practice with this striker, setting up tinder, and building up fires to really make firestarting effective in a real world environment. So if you get one, try to practice building fires every once in a while. Like grilling great steaks, driving a manual shift, or doing basic tricks on a bicycle, no practice makes you rusty. And rusty in a real world mission critical scenario could get you into trouble.