Quick Guide to Starting a Fire Without Matches

The most seasoned campers will give sound advice when it comes to starting a fire. Do yourself a favor and bring a lighter or matches. It is by far the easiest way to get a fire started.

However, I guess you have not really earned your stripes as an outdoorsman if you do not possess the skills to start fire without matches.

Just for kicks, it is one of the fun things to do while camping. Starting a fire without matches or how to make a fire without a lighter is one of the most fundamental survival skills for both outdoor lovers and camping enthusiasts.

warming in fire

How to start a fire in the wild in case you do not have a lighter or matches is achievable in several ways, many of which will surprise you. Let us start with the more common ways, then move on to some lesser-known yet surprisingly easy methods.

There are essentially two principles involved in starting a fire. Generating fire-starting heat and transferring that energy to flammable material.

How to Start a Fire with Sticks

man making fire

The hand drill way is the most primal and the hardest to do. You will need wood, lots of energy, and even more determination.

The first thing is to create a tinder nest. The tinder nest is where the flame will start once you can generate a spark. You can put together a tinder nest out of anything that catches fire quickly.  Anything dry and wiry is the right candidate, like wilted grass, leaves, and dry bark.

Next, create your notch by forming a V-shape onto your fireboard.  Make a small depression adjacent to it. Put some bark underneath the notch. The bark will be used to catch an ember from the friction between the spindle and fireboard.

Now comes the tricky part. Begin spinning. Put the spindle into the indentation on the fireboard. The spindle should ideally be around two feet long in able to get a positive result. Keep pressure on the board and begin rolling the spindle between both hands, and keep running them rapidly down the spindle.

Keep going until an ember is created on the fireboard. You will soon see some hot reddishness going on as you keep rubbing.  The moment you see a glowing ember, nudge the fireboard to place the ember onto the piece of bark.

Carefully place the bark to your prepared nest of tinder. Slowly blow on it to get a flame going. Me make Fire! Me a he-man!

Anyway, I am sure you get the idea. A couple of sticks, tinder, bark, and caveman will. That is all it takes. Many online resources detail this method. (Learn Best Way To Boil Water Camping)

The 9-Volt Battery Solution

Ever wonder why 9-volt batteries can be unsafe when stored? That is because the two terminals, when shorted, can start a fire. The 9-volt battery’s unusual shape has the positive and negative terminals positioned side by side.

That makes it is easy for them to inadvertently “short” if something connects the two terminals. Fortunately, this same inherent danger to the design gives you another fire starter alternative if you are camping. You will need steel wool and tinder for this method.

First, you need to stretch out the steel wool to around 6-inches long and 1/2 inch wide.

Next, rub the batteries on the steel wool by holding the steel wool in one hand and the battery in your other hand. Any battery should do the trick, but it seems that 9-volt batteries are the best for this method to succeed.

Next, you should rub the side of your battery with the wool, and if everything is right, you will start to see the wool glowing with heat. Once it starts to burn, blow on it to keep the fire going.

Now, take the burning wool into the tinder nest and enjoy your fire. Remember that the flame of the wool may burn down quickly, so once it starts, move it fast into the tinder nest.

The Flint and Steel Method

This is also a popular way to make a fire that I often see avid campers use. It is simple in that all you need is a Flint rock, Steel striker, and tinder.

Simply put dry tinder on top of the flint piece and hold the two together using one hand. Next, do a striking motion downward at a 30-degree angle using the steel striker to create sparks. The sparks that land on the tinder will begin to smolder.

Gently move this ember to your tinder nest and blow carefully until you can nurture a fire.

The Lens Method

Starting a fire using this method will require some kind of lens. That lens will focus on sunlight and magnify its heat on a particular spot. Typically, a magnifying glass is best for this method. Still, other items like eyeglasses or binocular lenses also do the trick.

To use this technique, angle the lens towards the sun to get an intense small beam into as tiny an area as possible.

Sometimes it could be just a small dot. Intensity is the operative word here. Place your tinder nest under this concentrated spot, and you will in no time see smoke and an ensuing flame.

This is an extremely easy way to start a fire, but with one downside. No sun, no fire. This is obviously not an alternative at night or when you have cloudy skies. Still, it will have its usefulness when you get a good sunbeam.

To Build a Fire

Building a fire has always been fascinating and offers a primal sense of achievement when you create one. The 1902 Jack London short story, “To Build a Fire” dwelled on this subject. How creating a fire can spell the difference for survival in the wilderness.

Fortunately, we do not have to deal with such harsh situations these days. We can look at this subject in much more recreational terms.  Expand your outdoor survival skills by learning how to build a fire without matches or a lighter.

Read more: How to Keep Food Cold While Camping

Quick Guide to Starting a Fire Without Matches