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How To Start A Fire Without Matches

Fire has been a survival essential, whether for cooking, warmth, or signaling. What if you are trekking or on a wildlife trip and forgot to bring matches, or maybe your backpack gets lost? It needn’t be something dramatic – even wet conditions can render matches useless.

In case of a survival emergency where lighter or matches are unavailable to cook or warm yourself, here are survival hacks to try to start a fire without matchsticks.

    • Friction: The commonest way to create fire. Rub wood together using a plow or bow.
    • Sparks: A standard way to create sparks that will ignite the fire is by using materials like flint, rocks, or battery with dry wool.
    • Sun: If you have the right weather and material, the sun can be helpful to make fire by concentrating sunlight at a point to generate enough heat to make fire.
    • Chemicals: The least common method. However, you can carry selective chemicals that combust when mixed.


Bow Drill

The bow drill is a more effortless and effective friction-based method to use.

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Items needed:

    • Bow wood- A piece of wood with a slight curve extended from your arm to fingertips.
    • Bowstring- Create a string with the help of a paracord or another type of rope.
    • Socket- Use a piece of shell, rock, or hardwood that can easily fit your hand and has a notch to hold the spindle.
    • Fireboard- A thick flat piece of dry wood
    • Spindle- 8 inches long dry softwood, whittled blunt points on both sides.


    • Make a small hole on the fireboard where you’ll place the spindle for drilling. Carve v-shaped notch beside the hole to collect the hot dust and coal formed. Do not forget to place the firewood on top of a leaf to collect ember on it.
    • Wrap the bowstring around the spindle, place it on the small hole made on the fireboard, and put the socket on top of the spindle to hold it.
    • Apply pressure downward on the socket and move the bow quickly back and forth until you see an ember.
    • Use the leaf to transfer burning embers to the tinder nest.

Flint And Steel

Place a little piece of tinder or char cloth on top of the flint and hold them together in one hand. Using the steel striker, strike down at a 30-degree angle to produce a spark. Make sure the spark should land on tinder or char cloth. Carefully transfer the ember to the tinder nest and blow it gently till it starts to catch fire.


To generate fire, all you need is a little bit of sunshine and eyeglasses or magnifying glass. The key to this method is by concentrating the sunbeam on the magnifying object like the eyeglasses. Put some tinder wood below the magnifying lens, angle the lens toward the sun to focus the beam into the small area, and you’ll soon see the flame rising.

Fire From Ice

Generating fire from ice isn’t a dumb old-school thing. You can make it happen. First, find a clear piece of ice. Mold it in a lens, i.e., thicker in the middle and narrower from sides. Once you make the ice lens, concentrate the beam of sunlight via the ice lens onto the tinder or char cloth. Hold the ice lens until you see smoke coming out from the tinder and eventually ignites.

Batteries And Steel Wool

Generating flames with batteries and steel wool is fun to try at home with kids, and it’s easy as well.

Put some steel wool on a small bundle of tinder nests and place a battery onto the steel wool. You’ll notice the wool immediately igniting. You will have to tape them so they line up in series. It would be best to create a circuit by pulling off a little piece of steel wool and extending it from the first battery’s positive end to the second battery’s negative end. The formation of circuits will help to ignite flames in steel wool.

A Chocolate Bar And Soda Can

You might think it to be weird stuff, but it’s fun to try out.

Start by polishing the bottom of the can with chocolate. Rubbing chocolate on the soda can help to make it shine like a mirror. If you don’t want to waste your chocolate, you may prefer using toothpaste. After polishing, your soda can will act as a parabolic mirror, and sunlight will get easily reflected at the bottom, forming a single focal point. Point the reflecting surface of the can towards the sun and create a highly focused ray towards your tinder nest. Within a few seconds, you’ll see the flame.


Creating a fire without matches doesn’t always need to be a challenge. Make sure you have the proper tools, and you can make a fire anywhere! There are so many creative and unique ideas to help you out on your next camping adventure.