A cotton ball...dipped in petroleum jelly
I've used them and they do ignite easier than this setup (not saying this is hard to ignite). I ditched those because:
1. I had to figure out a way to keep the vaselined cotton balls stored until I needed to use them. It seemed as no matter what i put them in (except hard cased), it broke and vaseline got on whatever they were in/around. Vaseline is a dirt/grime magnet. That strikeforce sparker I have, I have no place to put pre valaline'd cotton balls where I can pull out one at a time if need be.
2. Cotval balls burn pretty fast, something to consider when one can't find "tinder" that will readily burn an must use small twigs to get the fire going. And sometimes, one needs a "light" instead of a fire, one to carry around.
The waxed jute strings will burn long enough and hot enough to ignite small twigs, plus, I can carry it around with me. The latter is pretty valuable as I've been in places where I've had to spark ignite in one place, then move the flame to another where there was the base for the fire. And I didn't have any material to get a burn going and bring that, so I had to ignite it and carry it like a match. But unlike a match, this is pretty hard to blow out.
3. If one carries two components (vaseline and cotton balls), what does one carry the vaseline in? And the cotton balls? And how to keep the cotton dry? The strings I can put in that strikeforce sparker and have enough to light at least 8 fires, even if I throw the thing into a bucket of water right before. I just open it, pull one out, untwist it the end, hit it w/a spark, one blow and it's now a small, unbreakable candle.
4. The small ketchup ones can serve as a stand alone "fire". It'll burn for 17 min, and that may be all one needs to so something, even something like warm your hands, get your dark camp/cave organized, etc. I've also been places were there is nothing dry to burn.....and also, where there's nothing to burn at all but rocks/sand. Using the wax/sawdust thing, I have strings for ignition/emergency, ketchup for something bigger/longer, and finally the tuna can for a long, big burn. All from the same batch.
Not hard at all. Not messy either. Just dedicate a goodwill spoon and pan for it. Do it on something like a formica counter and once you're thru, scrap any solidifed wax off it w/a razor and toss into the trash can. Once they are hard, they are as messy as any solid....like a candle.
I've played with steel wool also. And various premixed pills.
For me, this works the best, is the most reliable, is the easiest to use/store, is the most flexible and certainly is the cheapest for doing all that.
I think of one would reduce the amount of sawdust in it and use more wax, it'd burn more like a candle, thus increase burn time and reduce burning BTUs. Mebbe someone here will do this and try that? I didn't because I'm not interested in a candle. I'm in CO and often at high altitudes and cold at night, snow flurries following a rain/sleeting in the summer are common. Packs can also fall of ledges, etc. I need good, reliable, easy and fast BTUs.
Different experiences by different people in different areas = each person needs to try a number of different things in different ways and choose what works for them there.