Invented in 1984 by Oak Duke Norton, Jr. the Spark-Lite Aviation Survival Fire Starter is a handy little rotary wheel sparker. Norton was a veteran of the wars in Korea and Vietnam finally retiring from the US Army after 24 years of service. After leaving the service he developed the grandfather of the today’s Spark-Lite tool in 1979. This was a bit bulky and required two hands to operate so he further refined the device and made it smaller. In 1984 he introduced a new model which looks very similar to the unit seen here, except it had a brass body. It wasn’t long after developing this model that the US Army expressed interest. While they liked the concept though, they desired a lighter and less expensive model produced from plastic. Norton went ahead and produced samples and the US Army ordered placed an order for 28,000. I happen to have one of the early brass models. The current plastic model works the same way, and while I am not a big fan of plastic it seems to work in the heat or the cold with no effect. I somewhat expected the plastic to become brittle, but it didn’t in the extremes I have been in.
The sparker comes as a kit which includes a case, eight Tinder-Quick Fire tabs and a set of instructions for correct use. The case is available in either orange or olive drab. I have the olive drab as I am not much on bright colors or flash, granted I realize the purpose but it still seems wrong for a prepper to be seen. The case size is 2.5 x 1.6 x .75 inches and it holds everything neatly in place. Everything weighs just two ounces.
Along with the Spark-Lite are eight Tinder-Quick Fire tabs. These are an all-weather fire starter which will light even when wet. They feature a special treating so they are waterproof and light easily. They pack small, weigh almost nothing and can be pulled apart. Once lit the Tinder-Quick Fire tabs will burn for approximately two to three minutes. I’ve found them to work very well, even in foul weather.
One addition I made to my kit was to add extra Zippo flints to the bottom of the container. The sparker has a plastic screw-in plug in its base which allows you to replace the flint. If the end strips out a small screwdriver heated just a bit using a lighter flame and applied to the plug to form a straight slot will allow it to be removed for flint replacement. Some char cloth can also be carried in a small Zip-Lock bag to add versatility.
This is a great little fire starting system. It will spark thousands of times and easily sets the tinder tabs ablaze. It will light char cloth, although char cloth should have its edge frayed to catch the spark. With practice it will even get a very well worked tinder ball blazing like a beacon in the darkness. A small twig stuck into the backside of the Tinder tab will let it be used like a match to light a tinder ball, or other item. Then it can be extinguished for later use thus extending a limited resource. I like to keep Vaseline soaked cotton balls in a small container with my fire starting gear. A spark in an opened up cotton ball will make it blaze nicely. Along the same line a backwoods match can be made by wrapping a bit of cotton ball and Vaseline on a small stick then sparking it up. One of these in your OS bag or your personal survival kit would be an excellent idea. Being able to make fire is a necessity in the real world so knowing many ways to accomplish that goal will never hurt you. Retail price for the Spark-Lite kit is $8.95 and it’s available directly from Four Season Survival HERE. If plastic doesn’t float your boat there is an anodized aluminum model available for $18.95 HERE. Recently they even returned to their roots and reintroduced the classic brass model. This is available for $20.95 HERE. If you prefer to do your one click shopping on Amazon.com the Spark-Lite is available HERE for $11.95
Kit Size 2.5 x 1.6 x .75 inches
Weight 2 ounces
Contents Spark-Lite, 8 Tinder-Quick Fire tabs, Case and Instructions
Case Colors Orange or Olive Drab
Manufacturer Four Season Survival