10 Ways to Start a Fire

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Ways to start a fire

Being able to start a fire is one of the most important survival skills you can master. With a fire you can cook food, boil water, keep yourself warm, and keep wild animals away. There are many ways to start fire, and many different fire starting tools that can make the job easier. Carrying a fire starter kit with you is a good idea, but take the time to learn how to use your fire making tools so they’ll work for you when you really need them.

It’s also a good idea to master a couple of primitive fire making techniques while you’re at it. If you find yourself without access to modern fire starting tools, these primitive methods could be a lifesaver. We’ll talk about a few primitive and modern methods in this article, and we’ll focus on how to start a fire without matches or a lighter since most people are already familiar with those two fire starting methods.

Here’s 10 different ways to start a fire:

1. Hand Drill Fire Starter

hand drill fire starter

The hand drill is a friction fire starting method. It is sometimes difficult to maintain high speed as you only use your hands to rotate the spindle. This method is more suitable for dry climates.

Cut a V – shaped notch in the fireboard and make a small depression with a knife tip or rock adjacent to it. Place a dry bark beneath the notch, so that it can catch the ember.

Place a 2 feet long spindle upright in the depression. Roll the spindle between your hands while maintaining pressure to keep firm contact with the fireboard. Run your palms quickly up and down the spindle in high speed. Repeat until there is a red glow in the spindle tip. The spindle end at the fireboard becomes hot from friction and eventually ignites.

Deposit the ember on the bark and transfer it to a tinder bundle. Blow on it gently to make a flame.

2. Bow Drill Fire Starter

.bow drill

Starting a fire with a bow drill is easier than the hand drill.

Take a bow shaped stick about 15 inches long.

Take a string that is slightly longer than the bow. You can use your shoe lace or a similar cord. Tie it loosely from one end of the bow to the other end.

Make a fireboard out of a piece of soft wood. This wood should be something you can hold down with your foot while kneeling. Make a small notch in the wood where your drill piece can go.

Place a piece of bark under the notch to catch the ember.

Use a 8 – 12 inch long stick for the drill piece. Make sure it is straight.

You will also need a bearing or socket which can be made by cutting an indention into a piece of wood.

Put the string around the drill, so that it makes the string much tighter. Spin the drill vigorously on the fireboard by moving the bow back and forth while applying downward pressure on the socket.

Continue doing this until you see a small glowing ember in the wood. Do not stop if it starts to smoke, because it will smoke before an ember is created.

When you get an ember, transfer it to your tender bundle and blow on it lightly to make the fire spread.

3. Pump Drill Fire Starter

Pump drill

This method generates friction by using a flywheel.

Make a small hole, to fit the spindle tightly, in the center of a round hardwood. It will be the flywheel. Place the spindle in it.

Make a larger hole in the crossbar wood so that it can slide freely on the spindle.

Using a leather thong or shoelace, attach the crossbar to the spindle top.

Twist the thong around the spindle by winding up the flywheel. Now press down on the crossbar. This momentum will help to rewind the crossbar in the opposite direction.

Repeat the pumping action until the friction creates an ember.

4. Fire Plough Fire Starter

Fire plough

The fire plough produces tinder when it pushes out wood particles ahead of the friction.

Make a groove in the soft fireboard. Now plough the tip of the harder shaft up and down the groove.

This friction pushes out dusty particles off the fireboard and this will ignite when the temperature increases.





5. Fire Piston Fire Starter

Fire piston

Air gets very hot when it is compressed under high pressure. For example, the heat that is created when you use bicycle pumps. But when you compress air with a piston fire starter, it is done so quickly and efficiently that it can reach a temperature more than 800 degrees Fahrenheit. This is so hot that it can ignite the tinder, which is placed in the end of the piston that has been hollowed out to accept it. You can use a tiny piece of char cloth for this.

In ancient times, the tube was made from bamboo, hardwood or even from a horn. The tube should be closed on one end, very smooth inside and accurately bored.

Equal care should be taken in the creation of the associated piston.

A gasket of wound thread, fiber or leather insures a proper seal for creating the compression. The gasket is greased to help with the seal and to allow free travel of the piston. The walls of the bore must be perfectly straight and polished smooth.

6. Flint And Steel Fire Starter

Flint and steel

The flint fire starter method works by striking the hard flint against soft steel. Starting a fire with flint does take some practice.

Hold a piece of hard flint rock between your fingers. The sharp edge of the rock should be protruding out by an inch or two.

In your other hand, hold on to the back of a knife blade or file.

Strike a quick blow between the flint and steel using a quick motion.

Catch the molten sparks that fly off the steel with a char cloth.

Fold the cloth carefully into a tinder bundle. Blow gently on it to make a flame.

7. Magnesium Fire Starter

Magnesium fire starter

The magnesium and steel fire starter creates a shower of sparks.

With a knife blade, shave some magnesium flecks and make a nest of tinder with it.

Strike the tool’s steel edge with the knife blade to make sparks. Direct it onto the tinder.

When the tinder glows from the spark, blow on it gently until it bursts into flames.

The Doan magnesium fire starter is one of the best magnesium fire starters on the market. The Coghlans fire starter is another popular brand.

8. Magnifying Glass Fire Starter

Magnifying glass fire starter

Take a small piece of dry wood or dry bark shavings and put them in a dry spot.

Hold the fire starting magnifying glass in – line with the sun so that a small bright dot will appear on the tinder. Adjust the glass to get a dot as small and as concentrated as possible.

Hold the fire starting lens steady and continue focusing the light onto the tinder.

When the tinder begins to smoke and smolder, blow it to help ignite a flame.

Depending on the strength of the sun, you get a flame in a few seconds or few minutes.

You can also use a Fresnel lens firestarter. You can get one the size of a credit card that can fit inside your wallet.

9. Firesteel Fire Starter


Ferrocerium fire starting rods, also called firesteels, are beneficial for prolonged outings, as a continual source of matches or fluid will not be available.

It is one the best fire starters and is my personal favorite as a backup emergency fire starter.

A metal blade is slowly moved across the Firesteel. This generates sparks that can easily be thrown onto a small pile of dry grass, leaves or paper to start a fire.

When the fire becomes established, you can gradually add thin sticks and move on to thicker ones.

10. Blastmatch Fire Starter


This flint and steel fire-starting tool is self-contained. It is a one handed fire starter. It’s a good one for starting a fire in the rain. It’s designed for all weather use, and will not run out of fuel or fail to light in wind or rain. It generates a stream of super-heated sparks that can easily light any material. The large rotating flint bar allows a lot of use before it is worn out.

There is the Ultimate Survival Technologies blastmatch fire starter, and the sparkie fire starter.

These 10 ways to start fire will help you in emergencies when there are no matches or a lighter in hand. The best way to start a fire is the way that works the best for you. You’ll only know that by practicing, so put together your own fire starting kit now, and go out and practice your fire building skills. In no time at all, you’ll have your own favorite survival fire starters and you’ll even know how to start a fire with wet wood.