Tips & Tricks

How to Start a Fire Without a Lighter

Having a lighter or a box of matches with you is always a good idea if you’re going camping but sometimes you may get in a situation where you really have neither at your disposal.

Below we’ll list several methods for how to start a fire without a lighter. In each of the cases, you’ll want to start by making a small “nest” out of tinder which is what you’ll be trying to light up. Simply using a piece of paper is usually not reliable enough so a small fist-shaped nest of tinder is your best bet.

How to start a fire with flint and steel?

One of the most popular methods among survivalists and many campers is by using flint and steel. Flint is a type of rock such as obsidian, agate, chert or quartz and it can often be found in the wilderness. For steel, you can use almost any type of steel including your pocket knife although having a specialized “firesteel” rod with you can be a great addition to your arsenal.

Additionally, if you’re worried you won’t be able to find a flint rock you can carry a magnesium block with you which can also easily produce a spark.

After that, all you need to do with this method is to strike the flint with the back of your knife under an angle in order to produce a spark into the tinder.

How to start a fire with rocks?

This is a well-known but quite difficult method for starting a fire. So, how to make fire with rocks – the idea is that knocking two rocks together you can produce a spark. However, one tricky part is that only some rock – flint rocks – are good at producing sparks so you’ll need to find a rock with enough quartz in it.

Another problem is that you’ll need to make sure the rocks are of a specific shape – one must have a very sharp edge and the other a sort of channel in it. By striking the edge of the first rock into the channel of the other over a pile of tinder you might produce a spark but it will take quite a few strikes to do so. Placing some of the tinder inside the channel can also yield better results.

All in all, however, if you have a steel knife, using it together with the quartz rock will be much easier.

How to start a fire with a magnifying glass?

This is a much easier method than with rocks as it requires little physical effort. As long as the magnifying glass is powerful enough and the tinder is dry – several minutes of direct sunlight magnified through the glass should ignite the tinder easily.

The problem with this method is that you’re reliant on the weather and the power of the sunlight. Additionally, you may simply not be carrying a magnifying glass with you. You can use glasses instead but they may not be as strong as a magnifying glass. A couple of drops of water on the glasses can improve their magnification in this case.

Either way, you’ll want to keep the light focused on the tinder without moving too much for quite some time so you’ll need a lot of patience. You’ll also want to add some airflow as soon as you see a spark in the tinder. To see how to make a fire with a magnifying glass, check out how this survival expert does it.

How to start a fire with chemicals from the pharmacy?

Sure, there aren’t many pharmacies in the wilderness but you can simply visit one before you go camping and buy a couple of bottles beforehand. All you’re going to need is a bottle of glycerin and a bottle of potassium permanganate. Then, just drop a bit of both in your tinder nest and wait for the chemical reaction to light it up. It can take a long time for that to happen but the good thing is that you don’t need to do anything else and you’re also mostly independent form the weather conditions.

How to start a fire by shortening a battery?

This is another easy method to start a fire – just use a thin strip of a gum wrapper to connect the two leads of the battery with the metallic side of the wrapper. The middle section of the strip should be thinner than its ends so that it catches fire quicker. Then, just drop it into the tinder nest and enjoy your fire.

How to start a fire with friction?

This is likely the most challenging way to start a fire so we really wouldn’t recommend it to a novice. The gist of it is that you need two pieces of dry wood – preferably a thin stick and a wider log that you’ve cut open – and you need to rub them intensely together until the friction creates a spark. This can easily take up to half an hour even if you’re doing everything right or not work at all. You’ll need a lot of friction and a lot of speed, and you’ll need to make sure that the wood is as dry as possible. Making a bow to help you rotate the first stick is also a smart idea.

As this method is quite complicated and intricate, we’d recommend taking a look at AZBushcraft’s video guide here.

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