How to Start a Fire Without Survival Tools

By Doug Williams
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How to Start a Fire Without Survival Tools

Doug Williams
 
 
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How would you get a fire going if you had no matches, lighters, magnesium flint strikers, or other fire-starting devices?

Fortunately, you’ll be glad to hear that there are a number of effective and proven ways to get a fire going without survival tools:

Hand Drill Method

A hiker can start a fire in falling snow with a hand drill.
A hiker can start a fire in falling snow with a hand drill.

This is perhaps the most primitive fire starting method in existence, but it works. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Build a tinder nest, which will convert the spark you create into a flame that you can then add more fuel to in order to create a fire
  2. Take a fire board and cut a V-shaped notch into it with a knife
  3. Place bark and kindling underneath the notch
  4. Create a depression next to the notch (you can do this by pressing a rock into the wood)
  5. Place a spindle into the depression on the fire board (a two-foot spindle will work best)
  6. Work the spindle into the depression while maintaining strong pressure on the board
  7. Continue until you get an ember in the board, and then tap it down into the kindling and blow on it until it converts into a flame

Bow Drill Method

Fire bow drill method is a bit more complicated, but also a bit faster and more effective.
Fire bow drill method is a bit more complicated, but also a bit faster and more effective.

The bow drill method is very similar to the hand drill method, but a little more complicated in operation. However, it is arguably more effective and faster at getting a fire going. 

As with the hand drill method, you are going to need a fire board and spindle; you are also going to need a bow and stone.

The bow should be about arm’s length, and you can use vine or your shoelaces for the string. Tie it to both ends of the bow. 

Proceed to wrap the string around your spindle, and then place one end into the depression in the fire board. With one hand, you need to apply pressure with the stone to the top of the spindle to keep it secure.

With your other hand, rotate the bow back and forth until you see smoke. At that point, move the bow quicker. Once an ember is created, tap it into your kindling and then blow on it to get a small fire going. 

Battery and Gum Wrapper

Any of these batteries are good for starting a fire
Any of these batteries are good for starting a fire

Yes, you can use a battery and an ordinary gum wrapper together to get a fire going as well. 

After assembling tinder and kindling on the side, take your metal gum wrapper and cut it into a strip. Bring it into contact with both ends of the battery. A spark will form instantly and ignite the gum wrapper, at which point you can transfer the tiny flame to your tinder and kindling to grow it.

NOTE: as an alternative to a metal gum wrapper, you can also use steel wool.

Soda Can and Chocolate

Polish the can bottom with chocolate
Polish the can bottom with chocolate

If you have a soda or beer can and some chocolate, you can use these things to get a fire going. As with before, you will need to assemble some kindling and tinder on the side first. 

Next, polish the bottom of the soda or beer can with the chocolate. Assuming that it’s a bright sunny day, reflect the bottom of the can onto the kindling or tinder. If the can is bright and shiny enough and at the right angle, the reflection will be strong enough after a while to ignite the kindling and create a fire. Just blow on the embers gently to get the fire going.

Balloon Method

As with the soda can method, all you really need is a bright summer’s day
As with the soda can method, all you really need is a bright summer’s day

Fill up a balloon with water. You can then use it to utilize the sun’s reflection to get a fire going. As with the soda can method, all you really need is a bright summer’s day.

After filling up the balloon and tying off the end, form it into a spherical shape. Don’t make the balloon too big, or else it will distort the focal point of the sun and the whole method will fall apart. 

Simply hold the balloon one or two inches from the tinder or kindle pile, and then be patient until you see smoke and embers start to form. At that point, it’s largely a downhill process.

 
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