Light My Fire Tinder-on-a-Rope



Tinder-on-a-Rope is a very reliable fire starter that…

Rating: rated 4 of 5 stars
Source: received it as a sample, freebie, or prize (Trailspace)


Tinder-on-a-Rope is a very reliable fire starter that is easy to use and functions well even after it has been exposed to moisture.

It you tend to carry fire starter beyond just a pack of waterproof matches, then this would be a solid choice to carry as tinder to help start a fire.


  • Is an excellent tinder to help start a fire
  • Is not affected by moisture
  • Is light and durable

First off I want to say that I received my Tinder-on-a-Rope from Trailspace as a gift for being a past reviewer of the month.


When I first received my Tinder-on-a-Rope, I kinda thought to myself well "whoopee" I just got a piece of wood that has a loop of cord running through a hole in one end. I have a shop at my house and have plenty of wood lying around and started to wonder if there was really anything special that made this piece of wood different.  I generally don't carry any tinder and when I do need to start a fire when I am out camping/backpacking, I usually can get a fire going with what ever paper or dry wood I can scrounge up. Maybe I have lived a sheltered life, but I haven't really ever been interested in comercial tinder, but since I now had this Tinder-on-a-Rope and some spare time (I'm retired...) I figured I'll see if there really was any difference between this piece of wood with a cord at one end and some of the other wood that I had lying around my shop.

Doing a little digging on the internet I found that Tinder-on-a-Rope is really what is referred to as "fatwood". Fatwood is a resin soaked wood that occurs naturally in the woods and while I won't go into detail on how it comes into being, I will provide the following link to a website that provides a nice discussion on fatwood:

Since what I really wanted to determine was if Tinder-on-a-rope was really any better than other woods for being tinder to help start a fire, I figured I would do a test. My Tinder-on-a-Rope was about 6 inches long a little over an inch wide and about a half an inch thick and weighed about 1.4 ounces with the cord and label. I chose to use a similar size piece of cedar and Brazilian cherry for the test as the cedar is a nice light wood that burns easily and the Brazilian cherry is a heavy dense wood that may have a high resin content like the fatwood used for Tinder-on-a-Rope. In the photo bellow starting from the left is the Brazilian cherry, then the cedar, and then the Tinder-on-a-rope test samples. I all the subsequent photos and videos the samples remain in this same order. 

For my first test I made a pile of very fine shavings from each of the samples and then used a magnesium fire starter to see how easy it would be to ignite each of the piles. Using a magnesium fire starter is dependent on technique, but the real focus here is on if the shavings can be ignited and how easy they can be ignited. One interesting note from making the piles of shavings is that once I started to cut shavings from the Tinder-on-a-Rope there was a very strong turpentine scent that was probably due to the very high resin content of the wood. The following video shows the actual test.

What I got from this test was that all three types of wood could be used to start a fire using a magnesium type of fire starter, but the Tinder-on-a-Rope was the easiest to get lit and generated a bigger flame and burned longer.

I decided to run a second test to take the variability of the magnesium fire starter out of the test and replaced it with a common wood style kitchen match. The following video shows that test.

The results of this test were similar to the first test in that the Tinder-on-a-rope started and burned much better than the cedar or Brazilian cherry, but again all three would have worked to start a fire.

For a third test I though I would see how easily each of the three woods would ignite using a larger shaving. While very fine shavings are always easy to ignite and needed if you are using a magnesium fire starter, a larger shaving may be harder to ignite. The following video shows the result of trying to ignite a larger shaving from each sample using a kitchen match.

The results of this test were similar to the first two tests in that the Tinder-on-a-rope started and burned much better than the cedar or Brazilian cherry, but again all three would have worked to start a fire.

One of the features of Tinder-on-a-Rope and fatwood is that it is supposed to not be affected by moisture, so I decided to soak all three test samples in a tub of water overnight and then rerun some of the tests. The following is a picture of the samples soaking in water and while the Brazilian cherry and the Tinder-on-a-Rope were dense enough that they stayed submerged on their own, the cedar sample needed to be held down with the open end wrench.

After soaking for about 18 hours the test samples were removed and dried off with a paper towel.

Within a few minutes of taking the samples out of the water, I reran the tests using a kitchen match to try and ignite a pile of fine shavings from each sample and then trying to ignite a large shaving from each sample.

The following video is of trying to light the piles of fine shavings from each of the samples after soaking.

The following video is of trying to light the large shaving from each of the samples after soaking.

The end result of each of these tests found the both the Brazilian cherry and cedar samples had absorbed enough moisture that fine or large shavings from the samples could not be lit with a kitchen match, but the Tinder-on-a-Rope was largely unaffected after being soaked in water for 18 hours and could easily be ignited by a common kitchen match.

My conclusion out of all of this testing is that Tinder-on-a-Rope lives up to its intended purpose and can be counted on to be a reliable and easy to use tinder even if it has been exposed to moisture for an extended period of time. This would be a worthwhile addition to anyones pack who carries material to start fires and I may even take and cut up my Tinder-on-a-Rope into four pieces (a little of this goes a long way) and add a little less than half an ounce to my pack to have a reliable tinder like Tinder-on-a-Rope in my pack.

Rob R

Nice review. Fatwood. You should be able to find fatwood by the BOX at places like Home Depot, Lowes, etc. or any fireplace store. Usually pretty cheap. There's enough fatwood that the box would last you for years to come. It does work very well.

19 days ago

Nice review - I was planning on reviewing my freebie fatwood as well, but will spend the time on one of the other prizes as you covered this well.

18 days ago

I think this might be a perfect review. Thank you for this.

18 days ago

Crap! I was getting ready to review this myself. How am I suppose to follow up on this EXCELLENT review?

14 days ago

Great videos...they say it all!

10 days ago
Go Time! (Jesse Maloney)

As a science teacher, I would have given you an A+ on this presentation.

7 days ago
Mike Mineart

I appreciate everyone's comments and I had fun doing this review!

7 days ago

Other options. I work in survival training. TOAR is…

Rating: rated 2 of 5 stars


Other options.


  • Shop bought
  • Convenient
  • A cost when other things are available and cheaper


  • Still requires work to prepare
  • Bulky

I work in survival training. TOAR is another fine idea but it still requires prep work and is bulky and you have to pay for it.

I've used BBQ firelighters for years. I cut a few to an appropriate small size and wrap them in gladwrap and alfoil to carry in my EDC and other kits.

The best ones are compressed fibre blocks that are impregnated with a flammable liquid or petroleum wax. They are waterproof, ready to use, can be cut to any size you like, don't crumble or degrade and can be fluffed up at one corner with a fingernail for easier lighting with a Ferrocerium rod  and light instantly, and certainly no need for magnesium (for which one needs to be very careful about brand selection, as some simply won't light).

Vaseline-impregnated cottonballs work well too but don't burn as long.

And you can make your own fatwood from any softwood and soak it in turps or kero or diesel and wrap it up as above. Use that as the initial kindling, not as tinder. There is a distinction. 

Hope this helps.


Hi Doug, thanks for sharing your thoughts on this. Have you used the Tinder on a Rope?

11 days ago

Doug, I agree about using other methods (although I have this unit to test on my next trip). But have you tested this item for comparison. Three of the pros I see above other methods is 1) it's scentless (vs. my wax cotten balls), 2) I'm not worries about fuels like diesel damaging materials in my back, and 3) If it gets wet, it's not ruined like a BBQ firelighter. I'm not endorsing this product, just thinking out loud.

10 days ago
Doug Bright

Thx G00SE, I agree. There are certainly differences between firelighters. Some of the ones available locally (Australia) are wax impregnated and smell only very mildly of kerosene, but are all fully wrapped at factory, and I double wrap them further as explained (enabling me to have some alfoil for other purposes too, such as an ELT base. I have also drowned them pretty well and the wax impregnation means they seem immune to a good soaking. They take a spark instantly. I think the good thing about "fatwood" is that it is available in many places in the US in the often deciduous and conifer forests. As you know, in Australia, 90% of the time, almost everything burns as soon as you look at it, de mainly to the high content of Eucalyptus oil.!

8 days ago
Doug Bright

Hi Alicia, No I haven't used the product as presented, but I am familiar with the US fatwood and it's great popularity there, for obvious reasons. Given the number of Youtube videos on "how to find fatwood", I guess such a product as this will save the more casual users, or those simply wanting something in their emergency kit or "in extremis" situations from worrying if they will ever be able to find it when the need arises. Then the trick is to get them to understand how to use it effectively and without wasting the chance it gives them.

8 days ago

Great to have along on any camping trip, but don't…

Rating: rated 2.5 of 5 stars
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $5


Great to have along on any camping trip, but don't depend on the flimsy hanging cord.


  • Great for starting fire quick and easy
  • Lightweight, easy to carry in pack


  • Plastic gizmo that holds rope for hanging doesn't last

Got these as stocking stuffers for our scouts -- perfect to carry in your emergency gear, car, camping, etc. However the little plastic gizmo that holds the rope together for hanging didn't even last until our first trip, fell off when taking out of the box to look at them. Not really necessary as we then tied our own paracord on (making it a little longer as well).

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