Considering the wintery weather we are already encountering in late fall this year, you better be ready to do some fire building in the event you get into trouble over the next few months. Cold, wet, and windy conditions make fire building a very difficult chore. Use this time to stock up on lighters, matches, and various forms of tinder and fuel to add to your emergency equipment. When it comes to fuel, it’s hard to beat the good old cotton ball soaked in petroleum jelly, but Grate Chef FireStarter packets make a great back up.

Available in Europe for years, fire staring packs are a more recent introduction to the shelves of many American grocery and home improvement stores. They’re often found next to the charcoal and lighter fluid, or the grilling equipment. The non-toxic contents (which include aliphatic hydrocarbons, urea-based resins, and paraffin) are stored inside small waterproof packets, each measuring 2.5 x 2.5 inches and weighing about ⅓ of an ounce.

When you’re ready to light your fire, grill, stove, or hearth, just apply an open flame to the corner of one packet, and it will begen to burn and ignite the paraffin. Each FireStarter pack burns for roughly 9 to 10 minutes, even in bad weather. With the right fire-building materials in place (like good tinder, kindling, and firewood), this 10-minute window of flame should be more than enough time to get a fire going, even with damp materials. A package of Grate Chef FireStarters contains 6 separate packs and retails for about $3.

Compared to similar products, I found the Grate Chef a little difficult to light, but once lit it produced a flame almost a foot tall. I wasn’t able to light the Grate Chef packets with ferrocerium rods, but an open flame from a match or lighter worked just fine.

What’s in your emergency fire-building kit? Do you have favorite igniters and accelerants? Let us hear them in the comments.