Kindling wood and newspaper are essential for starting fires (unless you're trying to challenge yourself by doing it Survivor style) and should always be kept on hand, but what type of kindling works best?
Jane Gitlan recommends fatwood in her Fireplaces book:
"Fatwood is a type of kindling sold by the bagful in specialty shops. It is made up of small pieces of pine about 8 in. long and less than 1 in. thick. The wood comes from the stumps of pine trees, which contain a high concentration of natural resins. The resins ignite quickly and remain alight, making fatwood a good choice for kindling."
Or you could just follow my dad's example and take an ax to the logs in the firewood pile. Split a few dry ones, and you've got some good kindling that doesn't cost you any extra. For people like me, who like to keep things clean and don't want to spend time sweeping up shards of wood, the pre-split fatwood sounds like a winner.