How to make fire without a lighter? ( Top 16 Methods )

In any survival situation, making fire will be your first priority, once you have afire going you can start setting up your shelter and so on. This is even more important if it is wintertime and you are somewhere in the middle of nowhere. Although you are a smart person and you have probably packed several lighters, you might find that none of them actually work when you need them. As a prepper, you will need to know several ways of doing certain things like building a fire.

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In my experience, if you live in a remote area of the country than you should definitely learn how to make a fire without any tools what so ever. This way you will have a backup up plan for your backup plans. The main problem with lighters is that once they get wet you will not be able to use them as they will not be able to produce a spark if they are using a lighter stone. Combine this with the ambient humidity and your lighters will be useless.

What you actually can use to start a fire depends on several factors, like how high is the humidity, is the wood wet, how windy it is and so on. So even though something like a magnifying glass is great for starting a fire but if the wood is wet you will probably just waste your time. You should always assess the situation first, and think about what could and what could not work when it comes to making a fire as each situation will be different.

One of your main challenges of making a fire no matter if you are using a lighter or matches is the wood and wood shavings if these are wet than no matter what kind of fire starter you use you will struggle to build or start a fire. Luckily for you, I have already written an in-depth article about starting a fire with wet wood so check it out How to start a fire with wet wood? ( Fast & Easy ).

Find tinder

Before thinking about what you are going to use to light a fire you will have to gather some tinder, this will be the base of your fire and you will ignite this when making a fire. Wood shavings are great for starting a fire, simply find some wood that is dry and shave the bark down to narrow strips. In addition to this you can also shave the wood itself, so if you have problems in finding dry wood than you can do this also.

Do not ever use rotten wood for tinder as this is full of water and you will not be able to set it on fire. If the local area is fairly arid than you could use any dead wood to make the wood shavings if the area si wet than do not pick up dead wood which is in contact with the ground as these are probably wet. In this case, try to snap off some parts of the deadwood which are not in contact with the air. If you frequently go into the wilderness than you might want to check my recent article How to survive in the wilderness without supplies? ( In 6 Steps ).

Gather small twigs

You will use these smaller twigs to get the fire going, grab a couple of handfuls and make sure that they are dry. Most people who struggle with building a fire have either not enough tinder or small twigs to kickstart the fire, so make sure you have plenty of them.

Gather firewood

This is what actually will make the fire burn for a long time, generally speaking, the thicker the wood the longer it burns but it is harder to ignite. When gathering firewood it is extremely important that the deadwood is as dry as possible, as these are fairly large pieces of wood they will extinguish your fire if they are wet.

Glass lens or magnifier

A reading glass or magnifier is a great way to start a fire if you do not have any other tools to start it. The thing to keep in mind when starting a fire with your glasses or magnifying glass is that the tinder must be dry and the sun must be shining. The way it works is that these lenses will have a focal point that will channel the sun’s energy into a small point, after a couple of minutes in the same position this point will be hot enough to ignite the tinder.

Do note that this method works best during the summertime, as during the wintertime the sun’s rays are not that powerful.

Batteries and steel wool

Brush the batterie against the steel wool and it will produce a spark, this would be sufficient enough to ignite the tinder or wood shavings. Generally speaking the more Voltage a battery has the bigger the spark although you will still be able to produce a small spark with batteries that are lower in Voltage. The way this works is because you are actually making a short circuit once you rub the battery against this teel woold.

Every battery has a positive “+” and a negative “-” side, and these are isolated from each other, once you place something conductive between them they will short out and produce a spark. The problem is that every time you produce a spark you will drain the battery and in some cases even break it, so make sure that the battery which you are using doesn’t need to power something important.

Also, keep in mind that if the fire steel or if the battery is wet then this will still work although it will make even more damage to the battery than when using it dry.


Yep, you heard it right you can actually start a fire with a condom, condoms have some focusing properties like a magnifying glass although a lot weaker, but still enough to start a fire. Fill the condom with water, fo note that the water has to be clear as this will be your magnifying “object” and the condom will be your focusing device. Fill the condom with one or two cups of water and start squeezing it, your aim is to squeeze it till you will see a circle of light.

The smaller this circle of light is the better it is as this will heat the tinder up a lot faster, now you will have to keep the condom in that position for a couple of minutes in the same spot till the tinder actually catches on fire.

Soda can

All soda cans have a very reflective bottom, which you can use to make fire. First, you will need to empty the soda can and clean the bottom of the can as best as you can, the shinier the better it reflects sunlight. The reason why it has to be empty is that if it still contains soda than this will actually absorb the sun’s heat and will make it a lot harder igniting the fire. Now just focus the bottom of the soda can in such a  way that it either makes a small point of focused energy or a small circle, keep in that position till the timber ignites. As a side note if you are wondering if coal can go bad or not then check out my recent article Does charcoal go bad? ( Fact or Fiction? ).

Hand drill

This is a fairly primitive method of starting a fire, it only needs some wood and a lot of work. Grab a piece of dry wood which is flat, if you can’t find any then simply split apart a bigger log. Make some wood shavings, and a small hole in the middle of the wood on the flat side of it. Now go and get a twig which is strong enough to withstand at least some pressure. Place the twig in a vertical position on the log.

Where the twig and the log come in contact, place wood shavings, this is what will catch on fire. Now simply use your palms to start drilling, the faster you do this the faster you will start the fire. Once the twig starts drilling it will produce heat, and after a couple of minutes, it will ignite the wood shavings. Do note that this sounds fairly easy, but on your first attempt you will probably struggle for a couple of hours and you will get a couple of cuts and bruises on your palms so use a glove.

Bow and drill

This is exactly the same method as above, but with one exception, you will use something that resembles a bow to drill. Find another twig which you can bend, tie your shoelaces on it, if you don’t have anything else, just make it look like a bow. Now you will have to make a loop with the rope on the twig which is doing the drilling, find a rock and with one hand, hold in place the drilling stick with the rock and with the other hand start moving the bow forward and backward as fast as you can.


Ice magnifies and it also can focus the suns rays into either a point or a small circle. For this, you will be needing clear ice and some manual work like scrubbing the surface of the ice to make it focus the sun’s beam better.

Plastic bag

You can also use a plastic bag to channel the rays of the sun in such a way that it is focused on a single point. The problem is if you do this with an empty transparent bag is that the sun’s rays will actually melt the plastic, so you should ad also water to the plastic bag, as this will keep the plastic bag cool and will help to magnify the suns rays.

Flint and steel

If you have ever watched some survivalists shows than you have probably noticed that most of them do use flint and steel to make a fire. The main reason they use it is that it is fairly easy to use and you are almost guaranteed to make a spark provided that the flint and steel are not wet. Make a small bed of tinder and or wood shavings and use the flint and steel to make a spark, if you have never tried using a flint and steel don’t worry you will geta spark in a couple of attempts.

The spark from the flint and steel will be hot enough to burn tinder and wood shavings, generally speaking, the spark will be above 1000 degrees hot, and some brands who use Ferrocerium can generate a spark with an average temperature of 5500 degrees.


Yes, you heard it right, you can actually start a fire with a flashlight. All flashlights will have a reflective layer around the bulb, this is to make the flashlight more effective. You will have to take apart your flashlight and remove this reflective part, now use it to channel the sun’s rays on your tinder, and with some alignment, you will find the correct position and you will have a fire burning in no time.

Fire plow

This fire-starting method also involves friction as the main source of producing enough heat to get the tinder catch on fire. Grab a thick dry wood, split in half, and go look for a good strong stick. Place the stick on the flat area of the thicker dry wood and place some wood shavings at the end of the plow, the plow is the actual stick. Now start moving the plow font to back as fast as you can, this will create friction and a lot of heat which will ignite the wood shavings.


This is probably one of your B plans when it comes to making a fire, some preppers will use waterproof matches while others just use the standard matches. If you have a zip lock bag than just put your matches inside them while you are traveling, this way water will not rin them. The main difference between waterproof matches and normal matches is that the waterproof ones will ignite even underwater, although hopefully, you are not trying to start a fire under the water.

Build the fire

Once you have your tinder, small twigs, and firewood than it is time to building your fire. Place the wood shavings on the bottom, make a small bed with it, on top of it place the small twigs. Now place the firewood in a pyramid or tipi formation, this way the fire will ignite a lot faster. Use any of the above mentioned to start the fire just make sure to start burning the tinder and the small twigs first.

In conclusion

As you can see, even if you do not have a lighter you still have a lot of options for starting a fire. Do note that even if you know the above methods you should still bring a couple of lighters with you just as a backup plan.

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