Starting a Fire Without a Match or Lighter

Starting a FireIf you’ve ever watched an episode of the Discovery Channel’s survival series “Naked and Afraid,” you know how hard it can be to start fire – especially without the right tools. Not having fire can be a real struggle for anyone out in the wilderness as they battle not only the cold, but also no way to boil water or cook food.

While making a fire can be is hard, it’s not impossible. In fact, it’s possible to start a fire without almost nothing, if you have the right know-how. Let’s look at a few ways to start a fire without matches or a lighter recommended by Lifehacker.


A good pair of far-sighted glasses can start a fire under the right circumstances. Angle the lens of the glasses over a pile of kindling and use it to focus the sunlight. You must be patient – it may take a while, but when you see the kindling start to smolder you can lightly blow to ignite the flame.

Water Bottle

This works the same way as the eyeglasses. Focus the sun through the bottle to create a single point of heat. Like glasses, it may take a while for the target to get hot enough to combust, but it will eventually work, so just stick with it.

Cellphone Battery

The lithium batteries in today’s cellphones can provide a spark in a number of different ways. If you have steel wool with you, you can create a short between the positive and negative terminals to cause a spark. Since many of us don’t carry steel wool into the woods, a knife can do the same thing – as can pretty much any conductive material. This can be a huge help during a crisis.


Making fire with sticks is one of the oldest methods, but by far the most difficult. To make this work, you’ll need a drill piece – a straight stick that will serve as your main friction source – as well as a rudimentary bow that you can wrap around the drill. Use a flat piece of wood as your starter platform and pull the bow back and forth, using a stick to keep pressure on the drill piece. As you work, the drill will cause friction and heat in the base piece of wood and you should start seeing a slight sign of smoldering as you work. Keep kindling close – you’ll want to take advantage of this heat to start your fire. This is a complicated method to describe – check out this post from WikiHow to get a step-by-step look with pictures.

Hopefully you won’t find yourself without matches or a lighter during any of your wilderness trips, but it’s always best to be prepared for the worst and hoping for the best. Keep these tips in mind and practice at home in case you ever need it.

Stay tunes for more great wilderness tips from Tom and Michel!