3 Ways to Start a Fire Without Matches

Have you ever wondered how you would start a fire if you were left without matches?  You may have already encountered this whilst camping or out exploring in the sticks, but it’s always a useful trick to know if you consider yourself a keen adventurer and have the ambition of becoming completely self-sufficient when on your travels.

Before you attempt to start a fire you need to be sure you have the following basics –

  • Tinder – Tinder is an extremely flammable material that only needs a few sparks to be lit. Collect gristly pieces of steel wood or grass for example, which is used to catch the sparks.
  • Kindling – Kindling is slightly larger material that is used to keep the fire alight once the tinder catches the sparks. You may use the likes of wood chips or twigs.
  • Firewood – As a base for the fire, it would be a good idea to collect more solid pieces of wood, such as large twigs or planks to aid the longevity of the fire.

Once you have collected all the necessary base resources, here are three key ways you can effectively start a fire without the need for matches:


1.  Hand-drill method

You will need –

  • A sturdy plank of wood
  • A knife
  • A long, thin piece of wood

One of the most basic fire-starting methods would be the ‘hand-drill’, but this will require a bit of hard graft to get it going. One of the benefits of this method is that you don’t need any special materials or substances as an aid.

First of all, you’ll need to find a sturdy piece of wood, such as a tree stump or a branch and then make a hole in the middle with a knife. Secondly, squeeze an arm-length stick into the hole. Place your tinder around the hole and roll the stick quickly between your palms to cause friction. After a short period of time, you may notice that the wood is getting hot and starting to smoke. The sparks should then start to light the tinder. As the embers catch, encourage the fire by blowing on the tinder and gradually add larger pieces of wood to create a solid base.


2.  Flint and steel method

You will need –

  • Flint stone or a suitable alternative
  • A knife

You can purchase ready-made flint and steel sets which may be an easier option if you’re completely new to fire-starting, but if you’re hoping to achieve this the natural way, you could just find a piece of flint stone and a use a knife for this method.

Flint stone is grey and smooth in texture, however if you don’t currently own any and need an alternative, you can also use a glossy stone such as quartz, or even concrete.

While it’s believed that the stone is the material that sets alight, it is in fact the steel which causes the sparks. When the steel is scraped against the flint, small pieces of iron within the steel fly off due to the friction. Combined with the mixture of oxygen, these tiny iron shards start to burn and cause the sparks. However, the sparks will only be effective if there is enough tinder underneath to catch them as they fall.

3. The sun method

  1. The age-old method of using the sun to start a fire can be achieved if you’re well equipped with the right tools. Unlike other fire-starting methods, you could use just about anything you have with you to start the fire, providing it’s transparent and has a reflective surface to act as a lens. Here are just a few tools you could use for this method–
  • A magnifying glass
  • Eyeglasses
  • A mirror
  • Reflector from a torch
  • A soda can

The trick is that the sun needs to be focused on one particular spot. For this method to work, you’ll need a good amount of sunlight, so you can catch the rays. With this in mind, it wouldn’t be worth relying on this technique if you’re venturing into cloudier or rainier climates without the guarantee of sun. You’ll also need a great deal of time, patience and of course, perseverance.

Leave a Reply