What are the best lighter fluid substitute?

Lighter fluid generally refers to Butane and Naphtha. Butane is a highly flammable and colorless gas. It can be easily liquified. On the other hand, Naphtha is a volatile hydrocarbon mixture. Both of these are used as the main component when making lighter fluid. They are very easy to use as a fire starter.

Although lighter fluid has its uses, they are not the best and.  They are hazardous to the environment. The volatile lighter fluid contributes to ground level ozone formation. Also, it can cause complicated situations later. In the worst case, they can be responsible for toxicity, even poisoning. It is always recommended to use a lighter fluid substitute whenever possible.

There are many lighter fluid substitutes out there. They can be from commercial companies to homemade. Let’s take a look at some of them.


Newspapers are a great alternative for lighting a fire. You will need to place paper balls; where you want the fire to start. Newspaper burn very easily and lights up anything around them.

But the drawback is you will need to use a bunch of paper balls. The heavier composition, the more paper you will need. Thin woods can be easier to light a fire than a heavy and bulky wooden pile.

Vegetable oil as lighter fluid

The fact that vegetable oil can be used as a substitute for lighter fluid usually blows some people’s minds. Just take a step back and think why you were using the lighter fluid to light a fire. Vegetable oil can do the same.

You can use vegetable oil in a spray or liquid form. But you will need a helping hand, that is a newspaper. The method is simple; you will have to make paper balls using newspaper and oak them in vegetable oil. Now place them in the right position and light them up. They can light up almost anything. The more paper balls you use, your chance of success will improve. 

Use of sugar

Sugar is a great alternative for homemade lighter fluid. Sugar is full of glucose, and the main component of glucose are carbon and hydrogen, AKA hydrocarbon. Once you can light up carbon, it releases energy as heat and fire. Lighted up sugar follows the same mechanism. Once the sugar starts to decompose, it spreads rapidly to other particles.

Spread the sugar where you want the fire to start. Do not spread sugar too thin. Spreading thin will not result in success. Once the sugar is exposed to flame, it releases a chemical that creates an environment for fire to light up. It will work great, especially if you want to light up charcoal.

Alcohol works great too

Alcohol is a very common flammable liquid. Vodka as lighter fluid will be an excellent substitute. It is noteworthy that whiskey as lighter fluid would be great too. You could use almost anything that has alcohol as the main component to light up the flame.

Remember that not all alcoholic compounds can produce fire. The saturation level should be at least 40% or higher to make a steady source. By this standard, you could use rubbing alcohol as lighter fluid. Mineral spirit would work too.

Though alcohol would work great, they are costly. They evaporate quickly, so you will need to light’em up as soon as possible. The procedure will get costly, depending on how much alcohol you use. We would recommend it as a last resort if you didn’t find anything else. Here are things to keep in mind when using alcohol to make fire.

Chimney Starters

If you want to avoid all kinds of chemicals, then a chimney starter could be a great ally. Not only do they keep the food taste more natural but also eliminate the use of any chemicals. Another advantage of this device is you could flame up any amount you want, whenever you need it. You won’t need charcoal lighter fluid ever again.

However, using it is a straight forward procedure. Fill up the chamber with charcoal briquettes or pieces of charcoal, but do not overfill it. Roll up a newspaper and position it inside the device. Put fire on the newspaper and wait till the charcoals are ignited. If somehow you fail and there is unlit charcoal, you will need to redo the whole process again. Still, they are a good option for a charcoal grill starter.

Cardboard crate

Cardboard crates are very good at starting a fire if you haven’t taken notice. You just need to think outside of the box to make it work.  In the conventional ways, you flame up the fire and put it on the coals. Unlike those procedures, you will have to put coal inside the cardboard and then light up the cardboard. It is quite simple but very effective.

This procedure is not only very cost-effective, but also you get rid of your trash. What better ways are there to get rid of the trash in such an efficient way!

Here are some suggestions

It doesn’t matter if you are a novice or a seasonal player. In case you are looking for lighter fluid alternatives here are some suggestions.

1. Weber 7429 Rapidfire Chimney Starter – 

Beside producing hot coal quickly specialized grate, it has an ergonomic design and durable construction.

2. Royal Oak All Natural Fire Starters Natural Wood Tumbleweeds

This is a nontoxic, no odor lighter fluid substitute that burns for a long time, also the pack comes with 16 pieces which is enough to start a fire.

3. Better Wood Products Fatwood Firestarter Box

This firestarter burns even when it is wet, this all natural firestarter is safe, nontoxic and made from logging waste without hurting the environment.  

Bottom Line 

There are many ways to go if you are looking for a zippo lighter fluid substitute alongside other lighter fluids. There are legit reasons to avoid lighter fluid as they have some negative consequences. There are many lighter fluid substitutes for bonfire and grills, you just have to be creative.

Procedures mentioned above are well tested that renders the expected result.  There are many ways you could start a fire efficiently. If you could find any new ways, please do share with us. Until then, sticking to these methods would be enough.

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