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5 Best Fire Pistons (A Cool And Breezy Way To Build Fire)

Fire pistons may pose a bit of a challenge to beginner preppers, but they are a dependable fire starting fallback option, that tops any survivalist's gear list.

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Fire pistons were a common tool used to ignite fires in the early 1800s. It is a device initially used by various tribes in Southeast Asia that employs the precept of heating gas through rapid compressions to inflame tinder used to set alight kindle.

Sure, matches and lighters are way more convenient, but when it comes to starting a fire, you can't go wrong by having multiple options available in a bug out situation.

That said, the fire piston is the best back-up plan to have in your get home bag while heading for safety or if you find yourself in a wilderness survival scenario and your main fire starters aren't working.

In a hurry? If you just want to get to our conclusions, here are our top picks and recommendations!

Last update on 2024-07-13 / Affiliate Links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

How Do I Fire It Up?

A fire piston's design exudes simplicity. It generally consists of a hollow piece of metal, wood or synthetic material, and a plunger to trap air when pressed.

We understand that for a fire to happen there must be the presence of heat, fuel, and oxygen. Here are a few simple steps on how to start a fire using a fire piston:

  • Place a piece of tinder such as a char cloth in the cup on the end of the plunger.
  • Put a small amount of tinder, leaving enough room for the air and tinder to mingle.
  • Seal the opening with a lubricated O-ring, laying it down at the entrance of the hollow base.
  • Brace the cylinder against a sturdy object and grab the handle of the piston.
  • Ignite the tinder by frantically pressing the plunger repeatedly to create an internal temperature that exceeds 500 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Nurse the fire and transfer it to a waiting kindle.

Flicking a regular household lighter is hands down an easier way to build fire. Fire pistons, although they may pose a bit of a challenge, are a great dependable fallback option that is on top of a survivalist's wish list.

Man starting a fire near his survival lean to shelter

What Are The Best Fire Pistons Available?

Today, there is a plethora of tools designed to make certain that a fire would, in no time, be burning.

The most experienced preppers would never gamble without a reliable fire piston in their arsenal.

With that, let's take a look at a few of the best fire pistons available on the market.

Campfire Piston Hickory Fire Piston

This tops my list as the most recommended fire piston out in the market. Regarded as one of the finest fire pistons, this fire starter is ideal as a primary fire inducing tool that can work as a great backup as well.

This piston includes an airtight circular seal that perfectly fits into the cylinder, not allowing heat to escape through any form of opening.

The compression of air eventually raises the temperature to 500 degrees Fahrenheit, enough heat for the char cloth to instantly ignite.

The Campfire Hickory Fire Piston comes encased in a fancy wooden rod to allow its user to make fire sans the discomfort and pain an aluminum cylinder brings.

Last update on 2024-07-13 / Affiliate Links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

PSKOOK Metal Fire Piston

This incredible survival fire starting kit showcases the skill of making fire the primitive way as it causes instantaneous combustion to light aflame effortlessly.

The PSKOOK Metal Fire Piston is an ideal backup kit that can handle the role of a primary fire starter as well. A metal fire piston that blends perfectly with char cloth, this tool can hold its own when compared to a lighter or a flint.

Equipped with two O-rings on the plunger for superior compression, this classic and durable fire-starting tool, regarded as one of the best fire pistons, can be your best friend in camp.

Last update on 2024-07-13 / Affiliate Links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


Wilderness Solutions Scout Fire Piston

The Scout fire piston, manufactured by one of the leading outdoor brands that offer survival tools, is designed with state-of-the-art space-age polymer along with an aluminum piston shaft.

The Wilderness Solutions Scout Fire Piston is a wonderful fire-starting device generates heat through compressed air molecules causing tinder to flare up.

Fashioned out from Delrin, one of the most durable polymer materials due to its low friction properties, this model is non-vented for quicker fire inducing actions.

Last update on 2024-07-13 / Affiliate Links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Fire Piston Fire Starter

This fire piston, finished in an attractive black anodized coating, features large knobs on both the cylinder and the piston for optimum stability.

Compared to other models, this elegant looking fire starter wants you to start a fire with the least stress as it boasts of its beauty, convenience, light weight, and effectiveness.

With dual O-rings placed for heightened compression, the Fire Piston Fire Starter can light it up just as well as other big-name brands can.

Last update on 2024-07-13 / Affiliate Links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Dioche Durable Metal Fire Starting Tool

This useful survival kit is ideal for hiking, exploring, and camping in the great outdoors. It is also a suitable accessory that can moonlight for Sunday afternoon barbecues and picnics due to its ease of use and efficiency in flaring up quickly.

This lightweight fire-starting tool is highly portable, convenient, and easy to store, making it a favorite of outdoor enthusiasts.

Crafted from quality metal, it is a sturdy and durable fire piston that can effortlessly endure daily use.

More of a fire piston kit than just a fire piston, this windproof and waterproof fire starter will never back down against the toughest environments.

The Dioche Fire Starting Tool kit includes a fire piston, spare rubber O-rings, char cloth, and tinder, all packed inside a gorgeous durable case. This amazing fire piston kit has everything you need for your fire-starting adventure to be a success.

Last update on 2024-07-13 / Affiliate Links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

For more fire starting methods and tools, check out our guide on how to start a fire using survival tools.

Check out this quick video demonstration of how a fire piston works.

Why Should I Get A Fire Piston?

Utilizing fire pistons is an excellent way to acquire fundamental fire building skills, which applies both primeval know-how and science at the same time.

Aside from the ability to ignite a fire with the use of one hand, here are a few benefits of using a fire piston:

  • Fire pistons last longer compared to matches and lighters. Extended periods of use may cause a matchstick and lighter fluid to run out, while the materials available to start a fire using a fire piston can be quite abundant.
  • It's no secret that water is fire's kryptonite. Matches and lighters, if saturated with water, usually spell their end. Fire pistons on the other hand can be completely submerged in water, get properly dried, and light up just in time for you to cook dinner. This degree of a fire piston's ability to survive even after getting soaked makes it an ideal tool for the hardened outdoorsmen.
  • A well-built fire piston will last for years even when used a few times a day. Signs of wear and tear would eventually become obvious but its durability exceedingly surpasses that of a thousand matches.
  • Tinder is required by both fire pistons and matches to light fire. The difference lies in the fact that fire piston can dry tinder with subsequent strokes, while it takes multiple matches to improve slightly compromised tinder.
  • Although advanced survival skills may be required, it is possible to fashion out a DIY fire piston from the most accessible natural resources. Compared to matches and lighters, which is obviously going to be ambitious to manufacture, a survival-oriented knife, a wooden tube, and a dose of McGyver would be enough to save your life.

Just like most things, advances in design will alter how a tool functions over time.

Fire pistons will always have the same basic action which is to build a fire that keeps you warm and safe in case of any emergency bug out scenario.

If you've managed to start a fire, and you want to take your survival prepping to the next level, check out our guides on the best portable survival stoves and rocket stoves!

Frequently Asked Questions About Fire Pistons

For most folks, fire pistons are an ideal backup for starting a fire. But every outdoor man knows that it doesn't have a problem taking the role of a primary fire starter.

Who Invented The Fire Piston?

Fire pistons first originated in Southeast Asia, particularly in the Malay Peninsula, Borneo, Sumatra, islands east of Java, and the Philippines, eventually spreading to China, Japan, and Madagascar.

How Does A Fire Piston Work?

Fire pistons are a simple device that uses heat induced by air compression to ignite a small piece of tinder. You can then transfer it to a larger tinder bundle where you can magnify the fire by adding pieces of wood.

Can A Fire Start Without Spark?

Fire pistons, even if it's been soaked in water, will always be ready to start a fire. With the right tools, proper skills, and a superior understanding of how it works, a spark is hardly needed to build a decent fire.

Should I Get A Fire Piston?

A fire piston is a must-have for every home in the remote possibility of any electrical and technological emergency or if you find yourself stranded in the wilderness without many survival options.

The fact that a fire piston doesn't run on batteries or fuel that can run out makes it one of the most reliable fire-starting tools.

Today, fire-starting equipment such as survival lighters and solar mirrors may have their benefits, but nothing compares to this survival fire starter used by our ancestors that has survived the test of time.

With all their great survival features and benefits, fire pistons are without a doubt, lit!

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Hi, I'm Russ!

I've been prepping for a long time, but 2020 convinced me that I need to take it to the next level.

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