5 Ways to Start a Fire Without a Lighter or Matches

We all know how important is to have the right tool for starting a fire in some survival situations. Hopefully, many of you are prepared for these kind of moments by carrying matches, a lighter or some other conventional fire starter. However, there may be a time when you won’t have prepared the right equipment to start a fire.

But, dont worry too much about that.

Let us explain…When you need to survive by keeping yourself warm, you will need to get creative with anything you can find. And yes, there are some other ways you can start a fire. In this article, we will show you five survival hacks which are alternative methods for fire starters.

And whether you have to call upon these skills or not, you will admit that it is cool to know how to create one when you really need it.

So, if you want to know how to start a campfire without your lighter or matches, all you have to do is read on.

1. The Hand Drill

This method is the most difficult, the most primal and the most primitive of all. For this one, you will need determination, tireless hands, and wood. And sure, this hack will make you feel really great about yourself. Here is the process:

  1. Create a tinder nest – you need to build it so you can start the fire from a spark you will make. You could use anything that is easily flammable such as bark, leaves, and dry grass.

  2. Make the notch – Into your board of fire cut a notch that is V-shaped and create a little depression that is adjacent to it.

  3. Underneath the notch put the bark – Using bark, an ember can be caught from the friction that is created between the fireboard and the spindle.

  4. Spin – Place the spindle into the fireboard’s depression. In order for this to work correctly, the spindle needs to be about two feet long. Roll it with your hands and run them down it quickly. Also, make sure to maintain the pressure on the board. You should be doing this until you see an ember forming.

  5. Start a fire – When you have spotted the ember, drop it to the bark pieces by tapping the board. Move the bark to the tinder nest. And then all you have to do is gently blow on it so you can create a fire.
image of hand drill kit

2. Bow Drill

One of the most effective ways to start a fire is the bow drill. It is easier to maintain the pressure and the speed you should make friction that will be enough to start a flame. You also should have a bow and a socket in addition to the fireboard and the spindle.

  1. Use a socket – Rotate the socket with the bow by using it to put pressure on the spindle’s other end. You could use a piece of wood or stone. It is probably wise to find a hard piece of wood to use for the spindle. The one with oil and sap is excellent as it makes a lubricant that stands in the middle of the socket and the spindle.

  2. Create a bow – The length of it should be the same as your arm length. Pieces of wood that have slight curves and are flexible should be used for this process. You can take anything to be the bow’s string. A strip of rawhide, rope or a shoelace will work excellent for this. It is essential that this item will not break. You will be ready to go as soon as you string up the bow.

  3. Fireboard preparation – In this board make a depression adjacent and cut a notch that is V-shaped. Put the tinder underneath the notch.

  4. String the spindle up – In a bow string’s loop catch it. In the fireboard, place its one end and use the socket to put the pressure on the other end.

  5. Begin Sawing – Start with it using your bow, back and forth. Keep doing that until you notice an ember.

  6. Create a fire – Put the ember into the tinder and start blowing until you make a flame.

3. Steel Wool and Batteries

You can always start a fire with these household objects. It is fun and very easy to try and learn how to do that at home.

  1. Stretch the wool – The measurements you are looking for are ½ inch wide and 6 inches long.

  2. Use the battery to rub it on the steel wool – In one hand hold the battery and in the other steel wool. Many outdoor enthusiasts recommend the nine-volt one as it works great. Start rubbing the wool’s contact area with the battery’s side. When the wool starts burning, gently blow on it.

  3. Place the wool in the tinder nest – Do it quickly, so the flame doesn’t extinguish.

4. Balloons and Condoms – Lens Based Method

If you fill a condom or a balloon with water, you can change these items into a lenses that can create a spark. So, when you have filled them make sure to tie them off. Bear in mind that they need to be spherical and try to get a form that will provide you circle of light.

Unlike the ordinary lens, these objects both have a short length. So to start a fire, you should hold them one or two inches away from the tinder. This method is excellent when you have sunlight on your side.

image of starting fire with steel wool and battery

5. Traditional Lenses – Method Based on a Lens

To focus sunlight in some specific area, you need to have any kind of lens. Binocular lenses, eyeglasses, a magnifying glass will all work great as an alternative to a fire starter. And if you need to intensify the beam, you could pour water on the object.

All you have to do then is focus the beam into one small spot and place tinder underneath it. You will shortly make a flame. But, bear in mind that this method will only work if it is sunny outside.


When you are in the wilderness, being able to start a fire is the most important tool for surviving. If you don’t have any firestarters with you, or you have lost them, you need to know how to make a flame using household or natural things to magnify the sun’s rays or to create friction. If the time comes, you can use these methods which could save your life.


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