How to Start a Fire Without Matches

How to Start a Fire Without Matches

In an emergency, it is a good survival technique to know how to start a fire using many different methods.


Many campers, hikers, and outdoorsmen carry flint and steel as part of their basic equipment. Flint is a very hard rock, dark-colored, and with very sharp edges. It can often be found in the wilderness areas but if you cannot find flint, other hard stones may also bring enough spark to start a fire. You can test them by striking them on a piece of steel.

To start your fire you will first want to separate the steel into a small nest. Lint from a clothes dryer will also work. This nesting area is what will catch the spark. With some very gentle blowing from you at the base of the smoldering area, a spark can ignite a flame. Gradually add small tinder to your fire to build it up into a strong fire.


If the sun is shining brightly a magnifying glass or even a thick pair of eyeglass lenses can start a fire. By adjusting the glass to redirect the sunlight to focus directly on your nest of tinder you can start a fire in the same method as described above.


This method of starting a fire without matches is known as the hand-drill method and is without a doubt the most difficult option described. When an outdoorsman becomes proficient in this method however, it can be one of the fastest ways to create a fire.

The cedar bark will act as your nest shaped spark catcher. Make sure your material is very dry and removed from any windy weather conditions.

You will also need a straight and strong yucca stem found often in the Western United States and other desert locations. Break your stem into two pieces. You will need to use the straightest part of the yucca stem for the “drill”. You can use a knife or sharp rock to slightly sharpen the end.

Next prepare the second half of the stem to create your “block”. Make a small hole and cut a notch in the side. The notch is where the ashes will fall to create your ember. Place the two ends together and rub them rapidly while applying downward pressure. Continue this process until it starts to fit together well. This step is done to get the block and drill working smoothly together.

Use a small piece of bark or leaf to place under the block where the notch is to catch the ash where the ember will be created. This item will help to re-locate the ember to the previously made nest.

At this point, you will continue the hand-drilling process until the ashes have collected into an ember and it is glowing. Spitting on your hands for lubrication will make this process easier before you begin. You will need to keep the movements rapid and the pressure forceful to expect results.

Don’t get discouraged. When you are first learning this process you can expect blisters and disappointment is common. You can however make a good ember and after placing it in the nest and gently blow on it as instructed in the other methods, will build a successful fire.

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