Flash Tray- fire starter/ signal mirror: A review

“There is a proper season for making attacks with fire, and special days for starting a conflagration.” Sun Tsu

Obviously fire is not meant to attack in all cases, though its value as a weapon should never be ignored. Fire is among the most fear inducing elements that exists for humans and mammals in general. It may be the most fear inducing, however, not everyone is the same. For the purposes of this article, however, the weapon applications of fire will be avoided and the life saving applications will be promoted.

In a situation that requires you look at your survival as a necessity, flooding, car broken down, hurricanes, earthquakes and more, a fire can become a necessity for continued life. Fire allows you to boil water and ensure cleanliness from bacteria and viruses (filtering helps get rid of heavy metals and particulates). Fire gives you heat at night, cooking ability and signaling if necessary though at times a smokeless, small guarded fire is a necessity as well.

This tool, the Flash Tray was for myself at first a novelty item. Marketed by a company that has several different products based in Edinburg, Texas this tool actually surpassed my expectations. The company is named, Survivor Firestarters, and the idea of the Flash Tray was the brainchild of Roland Villareal a Texas native and outdoors man/ bush loving individual. His additions to what others have done already was adding places to put a cigarette and giving it a flat bottom. Otherwise it is quite similar to what others already market and have been used for quite some time.

Though it is made in China, it is quite solidly made, consisting of a thick concave plastic/aluminum base coated with highly reflective silver coating. A spring is attached in the center of the base with a larger coil of wire approximately 2 inches from the center standing at a 90 degree angle to the base. The base is 4 inches in diameter and has slots that per the manufacture allow for the use of it as an ashtray. Though, doing so would likely damage the base to the point of not being usable eventually.

My test consisted of several steps,

  1. Would it fit in the bags I have and would it do so without taking up valuable space. Its weight is negligible, around 2 ounces.
  2. Is the price fair. At 12.00 from the website linked above adding shipping you can get similar items from Amazon for less that will work just as well, minus the cigarette holding slots.
  3. Does it work, and can everyone in my family use it? The quick answer is yes, my 7 year old daughter easily got it smoking as you can see in the video, I helped a bit towards the end but she did it several times off camera as well.
  4. How sturdy is it? I wouldn’t expect it to take a sledgehammer and survive, however, inside your bag it should survive quite well. Though again, if you drop your bag, don’t expect it to survive if it gets hit when dropped.

All in all I see this as simply another tool to keep in the bag, would I recommend it to others? If you already have solid fire making skills with flint and steel or with a ferrocerium rod than absolutely, add this in as another tool. However, dont do so if space is a concern or you live where sunlight is in short supply.

My review of this product ends with a very simple line. I tend to purchase products based on need and usefulness, this fills neither of those roles for me at this time. As a result it wont be joining my other fire making tools because, for myself, even two ounces and a few inches of space can make the difference in distance traveled for water and food. My physical abilities, or disabilities disallow my packing items that have no real value when I already have items that fill that role well.

Again I would suggest purchasing a set of ferrocerium rods and using them instead.


Free the mind and the body will follow


About Jesse Mathewson

Jesse Mathewson is the author of the popular blog, jessetalksback.com and provides commentary to many varied places based on a background that includes education in criminal justice, history, religion and even insurgency tactics and tactical training. His current role in his community is as an organizer of sorts and a preacher of community solidarity and agorism. He also runs Liberty Practical Training, a self defense school specializing in the practical applications of defensive approaches versus the theoretical. As an agorist, voluntaryist and atheist his life is seen as crazy and wild by many, though once they get to know him most realize he is a bluntly honest individual who will give you the shirt off his back if he believes it is necessary to help you. Very simple, "That which is voluntary between all individuals involved is always right, if it is not voluntary, it is always wrong."
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2 Responses to Flash Tray- fire starter/ signal mirror: A review

  1. jeffreycanthony says:

    Gotta agree, it’s neet and functional, but not something I’d pack.

    In essence this can be done with scavenged water bottle and sun, or clear plastic and water.

    Small wallet carried fresnel lens or even a standard glass lens can do wonders as well, and perhaps even more versatile.


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