14 Crazy Ways To Light A Campfire Without A Match.

Your ability to start a fire without a match is has a high value. For instance, think about this. Imagine your bug out bag and fire starting materials outside of your reach. They are miles away. To make things even more stressful, you can’t get to them at the moment you need them most.

This would be the moment when your knowledge and skills take on life saving value. If by some chance, you are able to start a fire without that gear, then guess what? The knowledge in your head has just become more valuable than your gear.

So wouldn’t it make sense to know as many fire making alternatives as possible? What I’ve done in this article is list fourteen ways to start a survival fire without matches. I’m not saying that you have to pull these all off at the same time. But, it is possible that just one of these methods may be perfect for your emergency situation.

To help you make better sense of these, there are 5 groups or basic techniques. So let’s jump in.

Fire Craft Type 1: Friction Based

Friction based fire making is the oldest of all the techniques. Problem is that it’s also the hardest to master. You’ve got to have the right technique and the right wood. Preferred woods include aspen, willow, cottonwood and juniper.

So here’s how it works. There’s a spindle which sits on a fire board. The spinning of the spindle creates particles that generate heat. Once they reached 800 degrees, a coal starts to glow and form. Ok, that’s it. And here are the three methods of friction based fire making.

Hand Drill

The hand drill method is the same as the Bow & Drill except there’s no bow. Just your hands. This method takes sheer determination. With this and the Fire Plough, as soon as smoke appears, start looking for the glowing ember.

Fire Plough

This consists of 2 parts. The base and the stick. The base has a channel in it that the stick goes back and forth in. You just push hard and keep pushing back and forth until you see smoke.

Bow & Drill

The most famous of the “friction” methods. This is the one we think about the most. Here’s how it works.
1. Build the bow with wood that is about the size of your thumb. It’s got to have some curve and play in it.
2. Get some string or a shoelace. Tie to each end of the bow.
3. Get a thicker piece of wood for the “spindle”. Put a rounded tip on one end and a point on the other end.
4. Make a “spindle block”. Carve an indentation on one side to hold the spindle.
5. Make an ember block. Cut notches in it to let embers fall through.
6. Now make a “tinder bundle”.

Fire Craft Type 2: Strike Method

The “strike” method is even older than the friction method. Flint and steel go way back. Even cavemen had pieces of flint laying around.

Flint and Steel

This is older than the friction method. Neanderthal caves have been found with flints laying near fire pits. The good part of this, is that it doesn’t matter if your ignition generating tools get wet. The downside? It takes a while. But, if you have some char cloth in your kit, it may go faster than you’d expect. Although the method is simple, there are a couple of twists to the theme.

Here’s how it works. Place your tinder in fro

nt of you. Start striking the steel against the flint towards the tinder. Keep striking until your tinder catches a spark.

Rock and Screwdriver

Same theme, different players. In this case, you want to get quartz as your rock. The steel gets replaced with a flathead screwdriver. And again, if you have some char cloth in your kit to catch the sparks, you’ll be golden.

Fire Craft Type 3: Pressure Based

Of all the methods that exist, this is the weirdest. Well, maybe not the weirdest, but definitely interesting. I’m not sure I’d like to lug around a rock and screwdriver around in my bug out bag, but a fire piston? Yeah. This makes sense.

It’s important because the parts are foolproof. The operation is simple. All you need is the tube, the piston and some char cloth. Press the piston quickly into the tube, and watch for the char cloth to show an ember.

Fire Craft Type 4: Lens Methods

This one reminds me of middle school. Remember taking a magnifying glass and lighting a leaf on fire from the sun? Same concept. The only difference is the lens. In each of these 5 techniques, the lens is different.

Also, if you are using paper as kindling, try to get paper that has dark colors or black printing on the paper. Black captures heat faster. So this will only help your fire starting efforts, and make things move a little quicker.

Another tip for you. You need the sun for these to work. No sun? No lens based fire starting. Sorry.

Magnifying Glass

A 2″ magnifying glass reduces the sun’s rays to 1/32 of an inch circle. That is a reduction of 60x. That means the focal point will be 60x hotter than the surface of the lens.

Just aim the lens at the sun and watch the focal point behind the lens. Place your tinder at the focal point and watch for smoke.

Balloon Method

This one is a take-off of the lens method. Balloons need to be white or clear. Fill with water, and position as you would the magnifying glass. You’re looking for the suns focal point.

Ice Method

This is one you’d never imagine, but it works. The key here is to add a little something to the kindling to kick start it. Also, something like black powder, wet fire tinder or fatwood should do the trick on the kindling side of things.

Another twist on this is to form your own ice lens. Get a bowl, fill it with water, and freeze it. Once it’s frozen, you’ve got a lens shaped object.

Coke Can Method

Here is one strange method if you ask me. The idea is to make the bottom of a coke can so shiny, that it will reflect the sun’s rays onto the tinder. The key is to shine up the coke can with chocolate.

A little disclaimer before moving forward with this one. Don’t eat the chocolate after burnishing the coke can metal. You might get a mouth full of metal.

Water Bottle Method

Another twist on the lens method. Here, the key is to fill up the bottle with water that is as clear as you can get it. The bottle needs to have a rounded edge near the top. This is where the lens effect will occur.

Fire Craft Type 5: Electronic Type

Electrical fires are freaky. When you mix fires and electricity, someone’s going to get hurt. So please be careful with these methods. And don’t start plugging things into the wall sockets.

Battery and Steel Wool

The idea here is about connecting the terminals on the 9volt battery. If you do it with steel wool, the steel wool will catch fire. The key is to have kindling and tinder on hand ready to catch those initial sparks in the steel wool.

Just make sure you have a couple of batteries on hand, because once they are out of power, you’ve got nothing left. Also, when you pack them together, make sure the battery is wrapped or packaged. You don’t want it to accidentally rub up against the steel wool and start a fire in your survival kit.

Potato Method

This is my favorite. You’ll need salt, toothpaste, toothpicks, some wire and a knife or spoon.

What is happening here is this. The potato with a few ingredients will act as a battery. So here’s how you make the “battery”.

Cut your potato in half. On one half, cut out an indentation about the depth of a spoon. Put a mixture of salt and tooth paste in the indentation and mix it up.

With the toothpicks, punch holes in the other half of the potato and insert the wires through the holes. Put both the halves together and “fasten” with the tooth picks.

Put cotton or light tinder on one of the wires. Then wait 5 minutes. At the end of 5 minutes, tough the other wire to the first one… and watch out!

Pencil Fire Starter

Once I was jump starting a car and suddenly the wires got hot. That’s because there was a short in the wires. This is a twist on that scenario. All you do is take a pencil and connect it to both leads on a car battery. Watch out, because it will start flaming pretty quickly.

Make sure you have glasses on, and don’t leave the pencil burning near the battery for long. Get it out of there quickly, because you don’t want the battery catching fire.

Final Thoughts and the Next Step

Well, there we have it. All 14 methods for starting a fire without a match. Some are easier than others. Some need plenty of patience.

But with all of these, there is a common thread. The kindling/tinder. If you have char cloth or char rope on hand, your ability to capture the very small ember will be greatly increased.

Check it out and give these a try! And if you find out any other interesting ways to start a fire, let me know!