Starting a fire without matches or lighters is one of the essential survival skills that you should acquire and nurture if you love spending time outdoors. There is a primal link between fire and man. I remember back in the Special Forces training camp; we were required to start a fire on our own. Though difficult at first, we finally managed to ace the task and have since then used it multiple times while in the wild. Today, I will give you some of my best techniques for starting a fire without a lighter or matches. Enjoy !
List of Items Needed
- Steel and flint
- Coke can
- Chocolate bar
- Steel wool
- Block of clear ice
Nine ways to start a fire
Technique 1: Fire Plough
This is my number one technique and always works perfectly even in some of the harshest weather conditions. Get your fireboard out of your backpack and cut a groove using your pocketknife. Position the one end of the spindle inside the groove of your fireboard and starting rubbing it at a high speed. After a few minutes of consistent rubbing, embers will start to form. Catch one and place it inside the tinder nest then blow it gently to get the fire going.
Technique 2: Bow Drill
The bow drill is another method that I have used multiple times to start a fire. As the name suggests, you will need to have a bow. You do not need to worry though if you don’t have one already as you can make one by using a sturdy tree twig your shoelace.
Use your pocket knife to make a notch on the fireboard and another depression next to the notch to house the tinder nest. Fasten the spindle using the bow string. With the spindle inside the notch, use the socket to exert pressure on the spindle. Start swinging just like the basic mechanical drill. Rub the spindle inside the notch to form an ember. Once you successfully get one, drop it inside the nest, gently blow air towards the embers.
The socket can be a piece of wood or stone, but the harder the socket, the easier it will start the fire. The best is made from a wooden material that contains either oil or sap. The two act as a lubricant between the socket and the spindle.
Technique 3: Steel and Flint
When going camping or into the wilderness to relax and unwind after a long week, it is always recommended to carry a steel set and a flint. Unlike matches, the two cannot get moist and so you can use them to keep yourself warm during cold and moist weather conditions. If you don’t have any of the two, you can use pocket knife, as its blade is made from sturdy steel material, char, and quartzite. Char is a special cloth that is converted into charcoal. It will catch a spark fast and keep it burns slowly. If by any chance you don’t have char, use birch.
Hold a small rock between your forefingers and thumb. Then, hold the char between steel flint and thumb. Make sure that 2-3 inches of the char are hanging out. Smack steel on the flint multiple times to create sparks. Eventually, sparks will start flying off the flint and landing on the char cloth. Finally, fold the char cloth to form a temporary nest then use your mouth to blow air on the embers.
Technique 4: The Hand Drill
The hand drill is the most ancient and gritty method of starting a fire. Though complex and challenging to master, it will help you start safe and prepare food in the wilderness. The first thing that you need to do is build a tinder nest using dry grass, leaves, or tree barks.
Make a small depression on the fire board using your knife and another V-shaped notch. Place a dry bark test under the notch to catch the embers. Place the spindle in the depression and start rolling it between your hands at a constant pressure. Tap the fireboard to drop the ember on the bark then transfer it into the tinder nest. You will need to blow on it to get the fire going.
Technique 5: Magnifying Glass/Lens
You remember the magnifying glass you used to melt plastic and burn trash in your backyard as a child. You can use it to start a fire in the wild without breaking a sweat. Strategically position the lens to direct the beam of rays into a specific area. Place the tinder nest on this area and hold that position for a few minutes or until the nest starts to burn. You can intensify the beam by pouring some water on the lens. Since this method is dependent on sunlight, you will need to initiate the fire before nightfall and keep it going throughout the night by using dry tree twigs and leaves.
Technique 6: Chocolate Bar and Coke Can
This is one of the modern day methods of starting a fire without using any matches. It is simple and quite straightforward than the other techniques that we have covered in this tutorial article. The first step is polishing the bottom part of the soda can with a chocolate bar. This will make this part of the can shine just like the ordinary mirror. Just like the magnifying lens, position it towards the sun and create a single focal point. Place your tinder nest on this spot and wait for it to start smoldering. If you don’t have a chocolate bar, use toothpaste.
Technique 7: Steel Wool and Batteries
If you don’t have any matches or a lighter on you, the chances are that you have batteries and steel wool in your bag. The steel wool should be at least half an inch wide and six inches long. Stretch it out on one hand and then hold the battery on the other. Rub the side of the battery that has contacts on the steel wool until it starts to glow. Once you achieve that, stop rubbing and instead blow on the glowing section of the steel wool. Act fast and transfer the wool flame to the tinder nest before it goes off.
Technique 8: Using Balloons
Fill the balloons with water to create an artificial lens. Tie one end to prevent the water from spilling then position it towards the sun. Try changing the shape of the balloon to get a laser sharp focal point. Direct the sun rays to the tinder nest and wait until it starts to burn.
Technique 9: Fire from Ice
Sounds absurd but thousands of people have managed to start a fire from ice successfully. The trick is arranging the ice into a lens shape and using it just like a magnifying glass to initiate the fire. If you love going camping during winter, this technique will come in handy. The ice should not have any impurities to work.
To get a clear block of ice, use clear tap or lake water. It is also important to note that the block needs to be at least two inches thick. Use your pocket knife and hands to shape the block into a lens. Trust me; your warm hands will be enough to smoothen the outer surface. Then, use it just like the magnifying glass to light up the nest.
With information on how to start a fire by applying any of the above techniques, you will no longer need to carry matches and a lighter when going outdoors. You will need to practice some of these techniques before your departure, as some are complex and take the time to master. More importantly, make sure that you put off the fire before leaving your camping ground to avoid starting a fire in the forest. In fact, most of the forest fires experienced across the globe are caused by campers who forget to put off their fires before leaving resulting in a massive loss of vegetation and wild animals.
If you have another smart way of starting a fire without using matches or lighters, feel free to share it with us through the comments section. Our team will review all comments and add the techniques that actually work in the list. We look forward to reading your comments and remember practice makes perfect!