light a fire

Different Methods to Try to Light a Fire Without Matches

A fire is essential when you’re camping or out in the wilderness. Fires help you stay warm, boil water, and cook food. All these things would become infinitely harder without the use of a fire. The easiest way to light a fire is to simply strike a match and get one started. You realized that it rained earlier and now your matches are soaking wet. What do you do? Well, there are several ways that you can light a fire without a match although they are a lot more difficult than using matches. You’ll need some determination and patience to be able to pull it off. Don’t give up! Starting a fire without matches is a useful skill and once you learn you won’t forget. Here are a couple of different methods to try to light a fire without matches. 

Different Methods to Light a Fire Without Matches

There are two main ways to light a fire without matches. The first way is by using friction. This happens when friction between two pieces of material will become hot and start a spark that will catch kindling or a tinder nest on fire. The second way is by using lenses, or shiny surfaces, to focus sunlight on the spot you want your fire. Both of these methods have some benefits and some drawbacks. The friction method can be very difficult and require a lot of patience. You’ll also have to constantly keep the right pressure and speed to create a spark. The lens method is easier to do, but it only works when there is sunlight. Friction methods can be done during the night or on a cloudy day. 

Friction Methods

Steel and Flint

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Image Source: Wood Trekker

The steel and flint method is the easiest friction based method. It does not require constant spinning or rubbing to get a spark. All you need to do is strike your piece of steel against a piece of flint and sparks will fly. The key is to have some kindling or a tinder nest below so that the sparks will land on them. Then blow on the tinder nest to get a flame going. A tinder nest can be made of anything that catches fire easily. Dry grass, weeds, and old bark make great choices for a tinder nest. You’ll have a fire before you know it. The problem with this method is that you need to have a piece of steel and flint with you when you go camping. This isn’t a method where you can find things from nature to help you make a fire. 

The Hand Drill

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This is by far the hardest way to light a fire. You’ll definitely need some patience with this method because it could take awhile.

Step 1

First, build a tinder nest from anything dry that you find around you. Something that will catch fire easily.

Step 2

Next you need to find a fireboard and spindle. A fireboard is any long piece of wood you can use to spin your fire spindle against. A spindle is a long stick you can spin against the fireboard. The fireboard and spindle work best if they’re made of cottonwood, aspen, cedar, or willow trees. Make sure the wood you select is 100% dry. The spindle should be around 2 feet long to work the best.

Step 3

Create a v shaped notch in your fireboard and put a dry piece of bark underneath it. Then create a small depression in the fire board for you to be able to stick the spindle into.

Step 4

Now roll the spindle between your hands quickly while you simultaneously run your hands down the spindle. Do this until an ember is formed on the fireboard. Then tap the fireboard to get the ember on it through the v notch and onto the piece of bark below. Grab the piece of bark and transfer it to your tinder nest. Blow on it to create a flame.

The Hand Plow

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This method is quite a bit easier than the hand drill method, but you’ll still need some patience.

Step 1

Find a fireboard and spindle following the same guidelines as the hand drill method. However, instead of spinning the spindle you’re going to rub the spindle against the fireboard.

Step 2

Create a groove in the fireboard so that your spindle will have a track to follow.

Step 3

Build a tinder nest and place it at the bottom of the groove on the fireboard. This will ensure that any sparks or embers will go onto the tinder nest.

Step 4

Start rubbing the spindle up and down the fireboard track as quickly as you can, applying adequate pressure. Keep going until the tinder nest starts to smoke, blow on it to get a flame.

Lens Methods

Traditional Lens Method

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Image Source: Stories of Our Boys

Use any traditional lens for this method. A magnifying glass, eyeglasses, or binoculars will all work. Angle the lens towards the sun to create a beam of light from the reflection of the lens. Try to make the beam as small and focused as possible. Aim the light beam onto your tinder nest and hold the beam steady until you see the tinder nest start to smoke. Blow on it to create a flame. This typically does not take very long. However, you do need the sun in order for it to work. 

Balloon Method

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Image Source: Primitive Ways

A balloon can create a strong enough light beam to create a fire. Fill a balloon with water and create a reflection off of it. The light beam is not as strong as a typical lens so you’ll need to hold the balloon closer to the tinder nest. Don’t make the balloon too big or it will distort the light beam. Squeeze the balloon in different spots to find a light beam that is focused and small. Then hold the light beam on your tinder nest until it starts to smoke.

Soda Can and Chocolate Method

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Image Source: Cheaper Than Dirt

A soda can will also provide a strong enough reflection to start a fire. However, it needs the added help of chocolate. Rub chocolate on the bottom of the soda can, this creates a shinier surface. Use the soda can the same way you would use a typical lens and you should have a fire in to time. Make sure to hold the soda can close enough to your tinder nest, about an inch away.

Summing Up

There are many ways to light a fire without matches. Some of them are difficult and take more time, while others are very simple and very effective. Whichever method you decide to try, you can be confident that you could survive in the wilderness. You’ll be able to light a fire countless ways so that you’ll be able to stay warm, cook food, and create clean water. Practice these methods of fire making before your camping trip so that you can get them down. Light a fire without matches and you’ll feel accomplished and resourceful. 

Image Source: Pixabay

Denali Gillen

I am a farmer’s wife living a farmer’s life. I love having wide open spaces and plenty of space to raise a family. Making the most out of outdoor spaces is something I never get tired of!

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