6 Most Effective Fire Starter Gels — Consistent Fire with No Flare Ups!

Last updated: Mar 16, 2020
28 Products Considered
61 Hours of Research
9 Experts Interviewed
163 Reviews Analyzed

Fire starter gel is an easy and quick solution that comes in handy when making barbeque outdoors, particularly if you are using wet charcoal or wood.

We researched numerous products and reviews from buyers and experts to compile a list of products that make the best fire starter gel in the market. After comparing the features of each product and ranking them, we picked Rutland Products One Match Gel Fire Starter for our Editor’s Choice because it provides great value for money based on the ease of use, reasonable pricing, and the bottle volume. The smokeless and odor-free ethanol gel also eliminates flare ups and transfer of strange flavor to your food, and burns longer while generating more heat than similar models.

Top 6 Fire Starter Gels Review 2020

We analyzed the volume of the gel to ensure that you have enough supply to ignite your fuel when camping or making fire pits. Next, we considered what the product is based on because this will affect the kind of compatible fuel and environment, and the length of time the gel will burn. For instance, ethanol-based brands burn hotter and longer than products that use isopropanol. The next factor we assessed when identifying the best fire starter gel is the country where it is manufactured to ensure it is easily available. Lastly, we looked for products that provide a variety of packaging options. This article consolidates a comparison table, in-depth reviews of each featured product, and a detailed buying guide that provides more information on the key features. It ends with an overview of our top three picks.

Editor’s Choice

One of the most popular gel fire starters on the market today; proudly made in the USA

Read Our Review
9.8
Best for Pellet Stove

A compact 16-ounce bottle that is so easy to take with you on camping trips; guarantees no flare-ups

Read Our Review
9.6
Best for Wood

An ethanol-based fire starter that has no smell and burns consistently for long

Read Our Review
9.5
Most Versatile

Gel fire starter from the trusted American manufacturer that’s been in the business for more than 100 years

Read Our Review
9.3
Best Value

A 32-ounce shatter-free bottle that contains fire starter gel with no odor; comes at an affordable price

Read Our Review
9.0
Best for Outdoor Fires

This product claims to produce almost no smoke and aftertaste; doesn’t need any paper or kindling to ignite

Read Our Review
8.9
Features
  • Volume: 32 oz.
  • Based on: ethanol
  • Manufactured in: USA

Rutland Products One Match Gel Fire Starter is a bestselling fire starter gel that is rated highly by Amazon, verified buyers, and expert reviewers. It is designed to light up barbeque grills, smokers, wood, and pellet stoves, and fire pits.

It comes in a bottle with a gel volume of 32 fluid ounces. You can also purchase the gel in a pack of 2, 3 or 4 bottles to match your budget and cooking needs.

Users like the quick start, lack of smell and aftertaste, and the quick shipping, which is unsurprising since our Editor’s Choice is manufactured in USA.

Some buyers had to use a lot of gel to start and keep the fire going for pellet stoves, and others struggled to open up the spout. To open the bottle and squeeze out the gel, press down the middle ridges on the spout so the spout can pop up.

The thick consistency of the gel may also require more effort to squirt it, but it is beneficial in sticking to your fuel instead of flowing through it and causing flare ups.

Pros
  • High gel volume
  • Multi-fuel fire starter
  • Several packs available
  • Great price-performance ratio
  • No flare-ups
  • Locally made
Cons
  • Takes a lot of gel to ignite fuel
  • Slightly difficult to open spout
2.

Imperial Squeeze 'n’ Light Fire StarterBest for Pellet Stove

Features
  • Volume: 16 oz.
  • Based on: ethanol
  • Manufactured in: USA

Imperial Kk0291Squeeze ‘n’ Light Fire Starter is a safe, smokeless, and odorless gel that is based on ethanol. It instantly lights up pellet and wood stoves without the flare ups associated with gas-based fire starters. This makes it a great addition to your camping kit and a reliable igniter that stokes the flame consistently when you are grilling in your backyard. It is also a convenient alternative for lighting fires in an enclosed vessel indoors where the highly combustible lighter fluid, gasoline, and charcoal starter could be dangerous.

The gel is packaged in a 16-fluid ounce black and red bottle that only weighs a pound. The manufacturer cautions customers not to squeeze the gel onto or near glowing coals, open flames, or hot surfaces.

Users like the speed of ignition, the affordable pricing, and the absence of fumes and odor that could impart a strange taste to your meals.

If you grill often, you may have to invest in several bottles because Imperial Kk0291Squeeze ‘n’ Light Fire Starter has a capacity of 16 fluid ounces of gel.

Pros
  • Fast ignition
  • Smokeless and odorless
  • Safe for indoor use
  • No flare ups
  • Competitive price
Cons
  • Small volume
3.

MEECO'S RED DEVIL Gel FirestarterBest for Wood

Features
  • Volume: 32 oz.
  • Based on: ethanol
  • Manufactured in: USA

This product is ideal for lighting up pellet, corn, and wood fire for stoves that do not have a built-in electronic fire starter. Compared to similar products, MEECO’S RED DEVIL 432 Gel Firestarter is quite expensive, but it backs up the price with instant ignition, a consistent flame, and odor-free fire. A little squirt of it goes a long way, and you can expect a few months of use with this 32-fluid fluid ounce bottle since it burns longer and hotter than IPA brands.

Majority of buyers who have used this brand like the smoldering pellets and the smoke that provide optimal conditions for a tantalizing barbeque. They find it convenient for damp wood and winter fire.

Previous versions have had the smell of a rotten egg and a stale salty flavor that transfer to food, but those issues are non-existent with this upgrade.

Avoid skin contact with the ethanol-based product because it may dry you out and cause dermatitis. The manufacturer also advises against using MEECO’S RED DEVIL 432 Gel Firestarter in decorative pots.

This fire starter gel is not suitable for igniting charcoal. Some of the users report slow burning and difficulty in starting fire. The gel also becomes crusty in the bottle after a while.

Pros
  • Works with multiple fuels
  • Instant ignition
  • Burns consistently hot for long
  • No smell or flavor
  • High volume
Cons
  • Unsuitable for coal
  • Burns slowly
  • Gel hardens up
Features
  • Volume: 16 oz.
  • Based on: ethanol
  • Manufactured in: USA

Sterno is an American Company that has been in existence for more than 100 years and an established brand that is prominent for making portable food-warmers to keep food hot and delicious. The Company has now added fire starter gel, among them Sterno 20334 All-Weather Instant Flame Gel Fire Starter, as they continue to expand their product line, which also includes emergency illumination and butane and catering appliances.

This gel is packaged in a 16-fluid ounce bottle and manufactured in the United States. The gel cannot be refilled, but it offers other replacement options with packs of 2, 3, and 4 bottles.

Most buyers use the biodegradable and odorless formula gel to light charcoal fires and fire pits in all types of weather, including wet conditions. The thick gel provides superior adherence to charcoal without flowing through it or evaporating to ensure quick ignition and consistent heat.

Sterno 20334 All-Weather Instant Flame Gel Fire Starter is UL-listed for safe indoor and outdoor burning. The manufacturer does not recommend using this product for tabletop fire pit.

A number of customers had to purchase a lighter fluid when this gel failed to ignite their fuel. Others had to use a lot of the fire starter gel to keep the fire going.

Pros
  • Established brand
  • All-weather use
  • Multiple packaging options
  • Does not drip or evaporate
  • UL-listed
Cons
  • Requires a lot of gel to keep fuel burning
  • Some failed to ignite
Features
  • Volume: 32 oz.
  • Based on: ethanol
  • Manufactured in: USA

KINGSFORD 71175 Charcoal Lighter Fluid comes with outdoors and landscape lighting as well as landscape-path-lights. It is the best rated fire starter gel that ships quickly and works as intended for cookouts.

It is packaged in a shatter-free plastic bottle that holds 32 fluid ounces of gel that meets all VOC requirements. Kingsford also offers the gel in alternative packages that are in form of a can or a pack with two 64-fluid ounce bottles for extended use and Kingsford original charcoal briquettes that can be purchased separately.

The large bottle provides plenty of fire starter gel for a pure smoky flavor in your charcoal-grilled foods at a competitive price, and the odorless fluid eliminates infusion of any weird taste.

Users who have used this fire starter gel when making beef, pork, chicken, vegetables, and seafood find it safe and convenient to fire up the grill. It is also one of the most widely available charcoal lighter fluids in the market, so you are always assured of its availability.

Some customers received defective products, and other users have complained that KINGSFORD 71175 Charcoal Lighter Fluid burns off very quickly.

Pros
  • Outdoor and landscape lighting and landscape-path-lights
  • Shatter-free bottle
  • 32-fluid ounce bottle
  • Varied options for packaging
  • Odorless
  • Competitive price
  • Quick shipping
Cons
  • Burns quickly
  • Some products malfunction
6.

Imperial Fire Starter GelBest for Outdoor Fires

Features
  • Volume: 32 oz.
  • Based on: ethanol
  • Manufactured in: not specified

This odorless fire starter gel that produces a deep blue flame would be suitable for people whom prefer a small amount of smoke. Unlike fluid fire starters that flare up instantly, Imperial Fire Starter Gel requires you to strike a match to ignite it to give you more control over the process.

Another advantage of gel fire starters is that they stick on logs without spillage so you can apply a little amount before putting the logs on smoldering embers without adding kindling.

Pleased customers who recommend this brand as the best fire starter for barbeques and fire pits like the thin viscosity that provides multiple uses from a single bottle, the lack of an aftertaste, and the clean burning which emits little smoke. However, the downside to its thinness is the propensity to flare up when it drips underneath the pellets, which causes it to burn off in a few seconds.

Imperial Fire Starter Gel is an ethanol-based product that is available in a 32-fluid ounce bottle. It is a great alternative for stoves with malfunctioning or no automatic ignition.

Pros
  • 32 fluid ounces
  • Does not need paper and kindling
  • No smell or aftertaste
  • Minimal smoke
  • Vibrant blue flame
Cons
  • Unsuitable for pellet fire
  • Too thin
  • Burns off fast

Buying Guide

This guide reviews the most important features to consider when shopping for the best fire starter gel that would work with multiple fuels in diverse environments to start and keep the fire going steadily. In the FAQ section, we briefly outline why a fire starter gel trumps a fluid starter and the basic safety precautions to observe.

Features to consider when choosing a fire starter gel

6 Most Effective Fire Starter Gels — Consistent Fire with No Flare Ups!

Before choosing the best fire starter gel for your fuel and environment, there are a number of factors you should keep in mind to get the best value out of your purchase.

Volume

Fire starter gel comes in a variety of sizes. From our list, we have featured products that are packaged in bottles with a capacity of 16 and 32 fluid ounces. Establishing the volume of your intended fire starter gel will help you to choose the bottle that will not run out while you are still camping or backpacking.

Since a can with a capacity of 13 fluid ounces generally produces a fire that lasts for approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes, you can expect a minimum of 6 hours of fire from Rutland Products One Match Gel Fire Starter and MEECO’S RED DEVIL Gel Firestarter that both have a volume of 32 fluid ounces.

Contents

The contents of the fire starter gel will influence the kind of fire you can ignite with the gel, the approximate time it takes to light up fuel and keep it going, and the level of flame and heat produced. Ethanol-based brands burn hotter and longer than fire starters that use isopropanol.

The gel makeup will also determine the type of compatible burner and whether you can safely apply the fire starter in confined spaces.

Liquid fuel starter made from natural sugar fermentation feature an absolute alcohol consisting of at least 96 % pure ethanol. Biodegradable fire starter gels that are ethanol-based include a thickness component for a consistency that would stick during application instead of trickling through your fuel, and salt that produces the crackling effect to imitate an authentic wood fire.

Liquid and gel versions produce similar byproducts without soot or ash although some gel fire starter brands may leave little residue.

Fire made by liquid models burns more powerfully with a vibrant orange flame. On the other hand, the non-combustible gel fire starters create smaller but thicker flames that last longer and are more resistant to wind.

Gel and liquid forms also differ in the length of time it takes between application of the fire starter and the ignition. The former is instant while the latter may take 5 to 15 minutes to allow for warm up.

Manufacturer

When choosing the best fire starter gel, it is important to consider the manufacturer for brand reputation, longevity, and quick shipping. Products such as Sterno 20334 All-Weatherr Instant Flame Gel Fire Starter are reliable because they are locally made and readily available for replacements, and the Company has been making camping and catering appliances for more than a decade. This fire starter gel is also UL-listed.

Other packaging options

Sterno 20334 All-Weatherr Instant Flame Gel Fire Starter and Rutland Products One Match Gel Fire Starter offer optional packs of 2, 3, or 4 bottles for separate purchase whereas KINGSFORD 71175 Charcoal Lighter Fluid is also available in a can or a pack of two 64-fluid ounce bottles. Multi-bottle packs allow you to buy sufficient gel for your fire needs at a cheaper cost.

FAQ

The advantage that a fire starter gel has over fire starter liquid is that you can safely use it both indoors and outdoors without flare ups and combustion, and it burns longer than lighter fluid. Fire starter gels such as Rutland Products One Match Gel Fire Starter are also odorless and smokeless, and they create thicker flames that are more resistant to wind.

Fire starter gel is an economical option because it eliminates or reduces the need for fuel and kindling to keep a fire going. It also works well with models with no electronic ignition so you can light fire with the gel during power outages.

You should review the instructions supplied with the product so you can identify the kind of fuel and burner that is compatible with your fire starter gel. For instance, the manufacturer of Imperial Kk0291Squeeze ‘n’ Light Fire Starter warns buyers against squeezing the gel onto glowing coals, hot surfaces and open flames. Flush your eye and skin for at least 15 minutes if you come in contact with the fire starter gel.

Our Verdict

Rutland Products One Match Gel Fire Starter is a high-rated bestseller that provides other packaging options of 2, 3, or 4 bottles with a capacity of 32 fluid ounces. The gel has a thick consistency which adheres to wood and other fuel to prevent flare ups and minimize wastage.

Imperial Squeeze ‘n’ Light Fire Starter is the best gel for igniting pellet stoves and other types of fire in confined spaces because it is non-combustible, smokeless, odor-free, and within reasonable budget.

Our third pick is MEECO’S RED DEVIL Gel Firestarter, which makes the best gel for damp wood and fire during winter seasons. It lights up the fuel instantly, maintains a consistent flame, and lasts for several months because you only need to apply a little amount of it.

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