Best Solar Fire Starters – Top Reviews of 2019

The reason for having a solar fire starter is fairly obvious; to start fires. But why solar? A solar fire starting device can be a lifesaving tool. In some cases, starting a fire with anything else may not be an option. The sunlight might be the only power you have. When this is the case, you can use a solar starter to light a fire by concentrating solar thermal energy onto a bit of tinder. In a short amount of time, the tinder will ignite and it can be used to grow a bigger fire.

In many cases, a solar tinder box or lighter will include other survival conveniences and features, such as providing a way to measure, magnify, or even heat food. Consider how you plan to use this tool and then take a look below at the five most popular options. Read the comprehensive reviews and get a look at our top picks for Editor’s Choice, Most Convenient, and the best option for a tight budget. Plus, stick around at the end for a few important tips for buyers.

Lifesport Gear Fresnel Solar Fire Lens

Suncase Solar Pocket Lighter

MMdex Solar Lighter Solar Fire Starter

Best Solar Fire Starters Reviews

Whether your caught in a dire circumstance or you’re just looking for a creative and safe way to start campfires, you want your solar lighter to be reliable, fast, easy to use, and durable. Much like your solar phone charger. We’ve taken this into consideration as we’ve collected for you the most popular fire starters with these 2019 top reviews. You’ll find several popular technology designs with multiple degrees of portability (a feature shared by these portable solar panels) and durability. Take a look at these options below to find out which would be the best solar fire starter for you.

Lifesport Gear Fresnel Solar Fire Lens

Editor's Pick

From the myriad of products out there, our favorite solar lighter is this Fresnel Lens by Lifesport Gear. This little survival tool is the size of a credit card and fits in a standard wallet cardholder, but it slides out to be a ruler, a magnifying glass, and a lens to concentrate the sun’s rays and start a fire. With proper tinder preparation, you can use this lens to start a fire in under a minute. It’s an excellent tool to have in your pocket, while camping, or in an emergency situation.

The lens is also a magnifying glass that can help you to read in low light or to better see the small-print on food packages, agreements, and instructions. Marked with both standard and metric measurements, the included ruler is another essential tool for your survival or outdoor adventures. This multi-tool comes in a set of six and stylishly packed in a highly visible protective sleeve. This is sold in a pack of six, so you can stick one in your wallet, your glove compartment, and in with your camping and survival gear.

PROS:

  • 3-in-1 tool with Fresnel lens, magnifying glass, and ruler
  • Comes in a protective sleeve
  • Fits in wallet; size of a credit card
  • Sold as a 6-pack; store in wallet, car, home, camping gear, survival kit

CONS:

  • Magnification is limited
  • Lens is a bit blurry for reading

Solo Scientific Solar Tinder Box

If you’ve already got magnification and measurement covered, then it’s not really necessary for it to be a part of your solar tinder box. In this case, you can get a solar tool whose only function is to start fires. This solar tinder box from Solo Scientific is an excellent choice. This item comes in a metal carrying case for durability and protection from rugged use.

Everything’s innovative about this unit, from the watertight design to the way it starts a fire in just seconds. This type of solar lighter utilizes a parabolic design that reflects heat to a specific point. This efficient tool doubles as a parabolic dish and the removable holder on the cap is easy to position on the dish to hold tinder for lighting. Once you’ve made your tinder arrangement, just place the dish in direct sun and watch the magic spark.

PROS:

  • Versatile unit is a solar lighter, parabolic dish, and signaling mirror for survival situations
  • Airtight seal
  • High-quality design and manufacturing

CONS:

  • Watertight design makes it tricky to open
  • A bit expensive
  • Can sometimes take a long time to start a fire

MMdex Solar Lighter Solar Fire Starter

Best Value

The MMdex design is a parabolic dish solar tinder box but it also works as a flameless cigarette lighter and a mirror on the fly. However, you won’t get a watertight box with this model; there’s no carrying case for this dish.

The spring holder is flexible and this item can be easily fit into a pocket, but the lack of an airtight, watertight case will not carry or protect your tinder. This option is a low-cost, pocket-sized tool that’s easy to use and should be a part of any survival or camping kit.

PROS:

  • 3-in-1 tool; solar lighter, cigarette lighter, reflective mirror
  • Very affordable
  • Waterproof tool
  • Windproof solution

CONS:

  • Doesn’t include waterproof carry case
  • Spring holder is flimsy and easily lost from the rest of the unit

CZ Garden Supply Unbreakable Fresnel Lens

If you like the Fresnel lens design better, CZ Garden Supply offers the ultimate solar fire starter. This 2-pack of large, unbreakable lenses are about 8 inches by 12 inches, which can fit nicely into camping gear, survival gear, or a glovebox or car kit. Like most Fresnel lenses, this one can be used to light a fire, magnify small print, and can even be used to cook food or heat water.

This unit is waterproof, windproof, and made from a shock-resistant PVC that won’t break. THat makes these lenses awesome tools for your garden or shed or even for classrooms. These solar fire starters are an excellent resource for multiple classroom lessons. For a reasonable price, you can get a 2-pack of the large-size Fresnel lenses and harness the fire starting skills that could keep you alive.

PROS:

  • Sold as a 2-pack
  • Excellent hands-on learning resource for the classroom or home school environment
  • Works as a magnifying glass or firestarter
  • Can be used to make a solar oven and other DIY projects
  • Waterproof, windproof, shock-resistant

CONS:

  • On the large size; makes this trickier to carry on your person than other models

Suncase Solar Pocket Lighter

Most Popular

The solar pocket lighter from Suncase is reliable, safe, and the most convenient option for starting fires with the power of the sun. Somewhere in between the Fresnel lens and the parabolic dish, this lighter is just about the size of a typical lighter and fits right in the pocket. When you’re ready to use it, pop open the folding concave reflective panels, insert your cigarette or tinder, and point the unit at the sun. This powerful little device will start a fire in as little as 3 seconds.

Not only does this make an excellent camping and survival tool, these solar pocket lighters are eco-friendly and economical. Replace your disposable lighters and refillable gas lighters with this item, but make sure no one swipes this pocket lighter from you when you impress them with its unique functionality.

PROS:

  • Replaces disposable and refillable lighters
  • Eco-friendly
  • Fits in pocket; about the same size as a typical disposable lighter
  • Lights in as little as 3 seconds

CONS:

  • Best to use sunglasses when using this product

How Do Solar Lighters Work?

How Do Solar Lighters Work

Though designs and techniques vary a bit, solar fire starters all use the same basic concept to ignite. The unit usually uses a lens or reflective panels to capture and concentrate the sun’s rays. This power is used as solar thermal energy which is focused on the item(s) you wish to heat or ignite. Keep it away from your solar powered tent!

Tinder is a small nest of easily flammable materials such as dead twigs and leaves, paper, or lint and hair, rolled into a small, bean-sized cylinder to be set on fire. This is the most common item for lighting as the mixture of materials make it a fast and efficient burner, and it’s easy to come by these items in most cases.

In some cases, cigarettes or other items may be lit using a solar fire starter. The solar thermal energy captured with these tools can even sometimes be used to heat food in emergency situations. Solar firestarter is an irreplaceable addition to any solar backpack.

There are two types of solar lighters used by campers and survivalists, Fresnel lenses and parabolic dishes. Sometimes you’ll find a variance or combination of these methods, such as the case with solar pocket lighters.

Fresnel lenses are rectangular magnifying lenses (slightly similar to the ones found in solar binoculars) you can use to enhance heat and concentrate it in one point. While they’re very effective, using them efficiently requires some practice.

Tinder holders or parabolic dishes consist of a concave reflective dish that concentrates heat onto the item inserted in the holder. They’re easier to use for inexperienced individuals, as you won’t have to do anything else other than place the tinder in the holder and set the dish under direct sunlight. Of course, just using some solar light batteries for a flashlight might be easier than all of this.

Conclusion

Whether you’re looking for a fun, alternative method to start a fire while camping (for example, if you’ve got a regular kettle that needs a flame instead of one of these cool solar-powered kettles) or you need reliable gear for survival situations, a solar lighter should be in your backpack. These tools are also a great benefit to the classroom and can be used many times for multiple projects, making these a very cost-effective school resource. Now that you’re aware of the two most common designs, and you know exactly what to look for, finding the perfect solar fire starter for your gear will be simple. (If you’re looking for other cool solar gadgets, try these solar flashlights!)

4.6 rating
Based on 29 reviews

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