How to Make a Fire

Fire plays a vital role in any survival situation whether it will be used for warmth, cooking or even sending signals to other people. There are many ways to make a fire that lots of folks aren’t aware of. Perhaps the most conventional method is with lighters and matches, and most people stick with them because it makes for easier work starting a fire. But what if you were stuck in a SHTF or survival situation, and you don’t have either of those convenient fire starters with you?


That’s why in this post we will cover three primitive, yet proven, methods of making a fire that withstood the test of time.

Classic Methods of Making a Fire

Friction – Friction fire-making is perhaps the most well-known primitive method of fire starting since it has prehistoric origins. It will require rubbing two pieces of wood together to create enough friction to start a smoking ember that can start a fire.

Sparks – This is another method that is well-known due to its old age. It will require scratching two rocks together in order to create sparks that are directed to your kindling, scorch fabric, or anything that can easily catch fire.

Solar – An object that is directly concentrated with magnified sunlight will produce sufficient heat to start a fire. Though it is a less preferred method, it can work in some instances in which conditions are right.

Most Commonly Used Fire Starters Today

Lighters and Matches

Find a safe spot to build your fire away from dry leaves and sticks. Make sure the wind isn’t blowing much. Before you attempt to get a fire going, start by gathering a ton of tiny dry twigs, some small dry sticks, and some larger size dry sticks. Put these twigs and sticks near where you plan to build your fire. Organize the sticks into three different positions depending on the size. Freshly fallen tree branches are nice fire materials. Sticks and branches that have been lying on the ground might be used later when the fire is consuming a lot of wood. Gather some dry kindling. The pile of kindling ought to be about the size of your fist, but put in a random pile, so that air can circulate.


Organize some exceptionally small dry twigs over your kindling material. At the point when your match or lighter is lit you can quickly put the fire to the kindling materials and start the kindling, lighting the extremely tiny twigs. Place the little twigs or sticks on the fire and while they light promptly add some slightly bigger sticks to the fire. As the fire begins to grow in size, add marginally bigger dry sticks. 


Initially, when the fire is tiny, use extremely thin sticks and as the fire steadily gets a little bigger, steadily use bigger sticks. At the point when the fire is a foot or two high, then you should add regular size sticks and smaller logs. Try not to cover the fire by adding sticks that are too big. This doesn’t take a lot of practice, however you should be cautious or you could cover the fire and it will go out, and with a simply mistake you could burn yourself.

Always follow an old safety rule that I learned at summer camp: Once a piece of wood goes IN the fire, it does not come out OUT!  

Friction-based Fire Making

Hand Drill – To make a fire, you need to make use of both hands to produce continuous rotation. Make an opening that a spindle can fit into with a knife. Mark a V-cut indentation in a board (the “fireboard”) where you will drill to gather the embers and coals. Put a leaf or piece of bark underneath the fireboard to gather the coals. Squeeze the spindle into the opening and position your hands on either side of the spindle. Rub your hands back and forth while applying downward pressure on the spindle to create friction while you rotate the spindle back and forth. Eventually, you should start to see embers forming. Catch them with a leaf or bark and gently place some kindling on top. Blow gently, and if you’re lucky you’ll have a fire going. This method is very fickle, so don’t get frustrated if it doesn’t work the first time.


Bow Drill – Make an opening with a knife in your fireboard in which a spindle will fit for drilling. Mark a V-cut indent in the fireboard where you drill to gather the coal and hot residue that is shed by the stick. Put the leaf or piece of bark underneath the fireboard to gather the coal


Make a rudimentary bow with a fresh, bendable branch and some durable string. It doesn’t need to be fancy, the string just needs to hold. Wrap the bowstring around the spindle once just like the picture to the right. Since this will spin so quickly and you don’t want to wreck your hands, make a socket out of wood by taking a piece of wood and digging out an indentation for your spindle to fit in. Put the spindle on the fireboard, and position the socket on top of the spindle to complete the setup. Press the socket downward and slide the bow repeatedly until it begins smoldering. Move the bow back and forth as much as you can until a coal is formed. Make use of the leaf or bark to move the scorching coal onto your kindling.


Fire Plough – This method works but is a bit less popular. Make a plough with a head that squeezes into a 6 to 8-inch furrow that is carved into the fireboard wood. Hold the plough at a 45-degree point to the base piece of wood and start sliding the plough up and down along the furrow rapidly, exerting downward pressure, until a hot coal is formed.

It takes a lot of effort, but it’s cool (and useful) to be able to make a fire with your bare hands and no real tools. This survival skill takes a while to learn, but it’s worth it to master.

Spark-based Fire Making

Rocks – Track down a little piece of quartz or split a bigger piece, so you get a piece of quartz that fits in your grasp and has sharp edges. Strike the sharp edges of quartz at a 30-degree point using a carbon steel knife to deliver sparks. Hold a little piece of kindling over the rock as you hit it so the raining sparks will fall onto it and light the kindling on fire. If you can’t track down quartz, then, at that point, search for the same unbreakable, smooth rock that breaks with sharp edges. Don’t be afraid to try and practice with different types of rocks until you learn which rocks have the ability to induce sparks.


Flint and Steel – Place a little piece of scorch fabric or kindling over the piece of flint and hold them together in one hand. Scratch down at a 30-degree point, sliding the steel striker in order to create flashes. The flash should hit the fabric material or kindling and start to smolder. Cautiously move this ember to your kindling and blow on it lightly until it light the kindling up enough to start building your fire


Firesteel – Place the firesteel right into the kindling and scratch down the firesteel at a 30-45 degree point. This scratching will create flashes that are focused into the kindling, helping you start a fire.


Ferro Rods – Hold the scraper at a 45-degree angle while the end of the ferro rod is pointing next to your kindling materials. Begin pulling the rod back until the sparks rain down on your kindling materials. You do not need to strike it very quickly or delicately. You just need to grip it tightly while doing strong strokes, and it will produce a lot of sparks. We’ve got an article about how useful ferro roads are here

Lens-based Fire Making

Glass or Metal – The way into any of these strategies is using a lens of some sort to direct sunlight into a beam that is sufficiently hot to light a fire. A piece of glass, the bottom part of a soft drink can, or a mirror can be used to concentrate the sunlight into a beam hot enough to start a fire. Direct the glass, soft drink can or mirror into the sun. Position your kindling or scorch fabric into the most radiant area of the beam and just wait patiently for it to flare up. This will take a while, and depending on the strength of the sun and the reflectivity of your material, it might not work.


Bonus Method!

Batteries and Steel Wool – Put a small amount of steel wool into a pile of kindling and position a 9-volt battery onto the steel wool. The wool ought to promptly light up. Alternatively, you can use two AA or AAA batteries. However you must not forget to tape them so they align in series. Afterwards, at that point, you should pull off a piece of steel wool that will reach out from the positive contact of the first battery to the negative contact of the second battery to make a circuit. This circuit will induce sparks that will flare up the steel wool. We do not recommend doing this since it’s very dangerous.

Final Words

You do not have to learn all the ways to make a fire, though it’s not going to hurt to learn some. You don’t know when these skills might come in handy, especially when lighters and matches aren’t there to easily help you our. Remember that in any survival /  SHTF situation, knowing how to make a fire can make a very big impact on your chances of staying alive in the wilderness. Don’t take any chances and make sure that you know a few different ways to start a fire when you don’t have easy access to a lighter and matches.