Now that the outdoor temperature is finally above freezing on a regular basis, neighbors we haven’t seen since October are emerging to rejoin the world. Evenings can still be a tad brisk, which is fine – we have a fire pit and a huge honkin’ woodpile. We love to hang out by the fire with family and friends, solving the world’s problems over an adult beverage or two. We love to slap some meat on the grill, too, and tend to do that a lot more when it isn’t 4° out. Our post-hibernation quest to Flame On just received a little turbo boost, in the form of a hot product (sorry) that recently arrived at HomeFixated World Headquarters – the Bison Airlighter.
The Bison Airlighter looks like one of those Bic igniters everyone has, but with a slightly beefier barrel. Okay, a WAY beefier barrel. This is the kind of fire starter Jason Statham would use in The Expendables IV, if he decided to set something on fire rather than blowing it to smithereens. The lighter includes a built-in LED flashlight, handy for those late-evening fires, cookouts, and short nature walks. The handle can be adjusted to any of three positions, from fully horizontal to pistol-grip. Naturally, Jason would be using pistol-grip mode.
Using standard butane fuel, The Bison Airlighter spits out a super-heated (2600°) 4” flame. It has a built-in blower to fan the flames once the kindling is lit. To recharge the integrated battery, just plug in the USB cable and connect it to the wall adapter, car adapter, or even to the port on your computer. A full charge takes about four hours.
Filling the butane tank is simple; insert the nozzle into the port and give it a blast. You might get a little spatter, so don’t fill it over your treasured picture of your mother-in-law, or your 1909 Honus Wagner baseball card. A fully-charged battery and a full tank of gas provides you with enough fire-starting juice for roughly 15 minutes of constant burning and about 30 minutes of fan time. The Bison Airlighter folks say that should get your barbecue burnin’ about 40 times.
Let’s Fire That Mother Up!
As I mentioned, we love to hang out around the back yard fire pit. We blather on about this and that, stare into the flames, and try to stay hydrated via consumption of various beverages. Normally the Lighting of the Fire takes several minutes, while the fire-builder endures disparaging remarks from the remainder of the group, all of whom assert THEIR fire would have been twice as good, and would have been blazing away ten minutes sooner. The members of the group, by and large, are NOT suffering from dehydration (more on that shortly).
I used the Bison Airlighter to perform the firestarting ritual on several evenings. All the guys, from my two-year-old grandson on up, were very impressed, and of course everyone had to play with it and try it out. After laying the kindling, I hit it with the Bison Airlighter flame for 20-30 seconds, then switched to the fan. For the relatively small size of the built-in fan, it cranks out some air! The fan got the fire roaring in a very short time; it’s like constantly blowing on the embers to feed the flame, and it works great.
There are some good safety features incorporated into the Bison Airlighter. It would be difficult for a child to get it burning; the safety switch on top must be pushed to the side while the trigger is being pulled. Despite the intense heat jetting out through the tip, the barrel remains cool. As you would expect, though, it does heat up if you keep it down near the flames awhile with the fan going.
All Warmed Up? Time For A Cold One!
As part of our rigorous testing process, we try to make sure we subject every aspect of the product to a no-holds-barred, real world workout. My first test was on one of the primary features of the Bison Airlighter. Built into the underbelly of the Airlighter is a metal recess, which can be used to hang the tool on a nail or screw. More importantly, it is perfectly sized to grasp and remove the cap from your bottle of Yoo Hoo or other favorite refreshing beverage. To ensure this feature functioned properly, some friends and family members volunteered to assist me in subjecting it to repeated trials throughout the afternoon and evening. Unfortunately, no Yoo Hoo was available, but ever resourceful, we substituted beer, and bravely forged ahead. I am happy to report we experienced no product failures, and that the opener, while not the beefiest construction, performed its duties well.
The Bison Airlighter Meets The Big Green Egg
The fire pit is a great place to hang out and relax, but man does not live by flame and beer alone; we need MEAT, dammit! Fortunately, our neighbor Steve has a Big Green Egg. For the uninitiated, the Big Green Egg is a cast-iron grill the approximate size and weight of a Smart Car, and only slightly more expensive. It burns lump charcoal, and in the right hands, produces amazingly tasty victuals; we have enjoyed many a tasty morsel of meat from Steve’s Big Green Egg.
To get the charcoal going, you need to bring the heat. The use of charcoal lighter fluid is forbidden, as it apparently does bad things to the Egg, along with making your food taste like gasoline. You could stand there with a traditional igniter, waiting for your pile of charcoal to ignite, if you’re very, very patient. Steve’s technique is to use an electric charcoal starter. He just builds a little pile of charcoal over the starter, plugs it in, and goes away for a little while, until the coals are ready. In the interest of our relentless quest for knowledge – and for the opportunity to grill some meat – he volunteered to put the Bison Airlighter to the test on his Egg.
After loading up the Egg with charcoal, he fired up the Bison Airlighter and aimed it at the base of the pile. The flame and blower combo got the coals going pretty quickly, and in about five minutes he was ready to start searing meat. His verdict? Works great. Is he likely to switch from the electric starter to the Bison Airlighter on a full-time basis? Probably not; he likes the convenience of being able to make the pile, fire up the electric starter, and mosey off to perform some other mission-critical task, such as fetching a refreshing beverage, while the coals get up to temp. As a replacement for the wimpy igniter for his fire pit, however, and as a refreshing beverage opener? A winner!
Ready To Feel The Burn?
The Bison Airlighter is now my go-to fire starter. Within a couple of minutes, we’ve got a nice-sized fire blazing away in the fire pit. For anyone who camps a lot, it would be ideal for starting campfires in a hurry, even with less-than-ideal kindling. If you like to barbecue on a charcoal grill, at home or while camping or tailgating, the Bison Airlighter will get your coals ready to rock in a hot flash, without the smelly, expensive lighter fluid. The Bison Airlighter has an MSRP of $79.95. That’s a little pricey, but it’s a good time saver, and the fact that you can ditch the lighter fluid is a definite plus.