Looking not unlike a plastic Popsicle stick, the Flamestick from Germany's AceCamp is a firestarter made from recycled thermoplastic that measures 3.5 inches (8.9 cm) long by 1/4 inch (6.4 mm) wide. While plastic may sound like a strange way to start a fire, the Flamestick offers several advantages over more traditional materials.

The Flamestick's recycled thermoplastic lights quickly and burns hot, providing a capable firestarter for lighting campfires, stoves, etc. According to AceCamp, a single Flamestick burns at up to 626° F (330° C), and a pair of sticks can reach temperatures over 800° F (426° C). With that much heat, and a claimed five minutes of burn time, Flamesticks can double as cooking fuel. AceCamp's managing director Darko Leo told us he's fried an egg in two minutes and 15 seconds using a solid-fuel backpacking stove powered by Flamesticks.

Flamesticks offer several benefits over other firestarters. Their plastic build means that they aren't susceptible to soaking like other tinder is. So you don't need to worry so much about sealing them up in a dry, waterproof container and can count on them even if they've been rained on or dragged through a river. The fact that Flamesticks can double as cooking fuel means that backpackers can use them for both cooking and firestarting purposes, saving space and weight. AceCamp is also quick to tout the eco-friendly aspects of using recycled materials; however, it's easy to find other recycled or re-purposed firestarters – dryer lint, for instance.

AceCamp recently introduced the Flamestick to its home market of Germany, where Leo told us the product has gone through testing and has proven safe and non-toxic. The company is also in the process of launching in the U.S. and says it has a U.S. patent pending.

I received a pair of sample Flamesticks and put one to the test. The stick lit quickly and began sizzling within seconds. Thanks to its long, thin design, I was able to comfortably hold it on the opposite end while lighting it and use it like a slow-burning match. Acecamp's claim of "no smell" is exaggerated – while it might not be as pungent as burning a non-treated piece of plastic or rubber, it definitely had a smell. The Flamestick burned for about seven minutes. When it went out, it left a small bit of melted residue. The residue did relight, but I ended up having to hold it over a steady lighter flame with a pair of tongs and relight it several times to get it to burn off completely.

While pricing isn't finalized, Leo estimated that a box of 20 Flamesticks will retail for around US$7.

Source: AceCamp GmbH