Ways How to Start an Outdoor Fire Without Matches or Lighter

See The Method #5. It Is Crazy Technique to Start Fire with JUST ICE!!!

Any survivalist will tell you that you need to carry with you at least three different forms of fire starting tools and technologies, or you are just begging for trouble.

We all know it. Matches and lighters (definitely a requirement for any survival kit) have a nasty little habit of not lighting or running out of fuel when you need them most.

Therefore, I have written this article to provide you with 10 best alternative techniques to light your fire for heat and protection in almost any conditions using these:

  1. Swedish Firesteel
  2. Glass lens
  3. Hand drill
  4. Bottle of water or urine
  5. Ice
  1. Fresnel lens
  2. Fire piston
  3. Aluminum foil
  4. Gum wrapper
  5. Steel Wool

Method #1 – Using Commercial Fire Starters

You have to see this crazy article!

The Best Zombie Apocalypse Survival Kit

The amazing thing about flint (or magnesium block) and steel or Swedish firesteel solutions is that they are amazingly simple and straightforward to use – and can create sparks in almost any weather condition.

It doesn’t matter if you are dealing with absolutely soaking wet kindling or tinder or bone dry twigs, leaves, and grasses – you will be able to get a roaring inferno going at the moment that you begin using these tools.

First of all, you want to invest in a flint and steel pack or a magnesium tool – and pack them in your survival kit and bug-out-bag (or keep them attach to your knife by a lanyard) so that you always have them on you.

This is highly recommended:

I have written great article covering Swedish FireSteel 2.0 so do not forget to check it out.

3 Simple Steps to Use These to Ignite Flames

  1. Preparation of tinder – Firstly, you should to “shave” the kindling as much as humanly possible, getting it to become absolutely tiny pieces so that they light up more quickly and efficiently.
  2. Shaving accelerator – Secondly, you need to “shave” the flint, the magnesium, or the Swedish fire steel directly into that tinder.
  3. Make sparks – Then and only then you should be getting to use the striking mechanism to create a spark that catches the entire thing on flames very easily and fast.

Method #2 – Using Magnifying Glass, Eye-Glass or Binocular Lenses

But let’s say (just for argument sake) that you ignored the advice above and decided not to invest in a high quality tool – and that you find yourself stranded in the woods with nothing more than your eyeglasses or a set of binoculars.

Don’t worry – the same kind of methodology that you used to burn ants when you were younger with a magnifying glass is going to allow you to build a roaring flames (over a longer period of time of course) that just might save your life.

How to Use Lens to Ignite Kindling

  • Get it in hand – The first thing that you’re going to need to do is actually pop-out the lens itself (if you haven’t already).
  • Focus beam – From there, it simply is a matter of catching the sunlight just right so that it focuses a directed beam of light precisely on your tinder pile or kindling – and you should have some smoke (and a real flames) inside of about a minute or so.

It is that simple!

4 Tips to Keep in Mind

I highly recommend you to read and remember following 4 points very well:

  • Sunlight – Just understand that this method is only going to work if you are lighting a fire during a sunny day. Cloudy days, overcast days, or nighttime conditions are going to completely eliminate the possibility of you starting any flames with a magnifying glass, binocular or eyeglass lens.
  • Cleanliness – Obviously, you’ll also need to make sure that the one you are using is as clean as humanly possible – and of the very best quality.
  • Thickness – Thicker are better than thinner ones, but in a pinch you’re probably going to have to “make do” with whatever you have on hand.
  • Experience & skill – The best way to get good at using a lens to begin a fire is to practice all the time. You should be doing absolutely everything in your power to get flames started in safe working conditions so that you can master the “muscle memory” you’ll need to use when you are in a survival situation.

Remember that it’s always worth putting in the time to practice before you really need to rely on your skills. This is nothing quite like being stranded in the woods with no idea about how to protect yourself – or even save your life – by creating a roaring balefire from just few available things.

Method #3 – Using Primitive Hand or Bow Drill

Amazingly, all of those cartoons and kids movies that we watched when we were younger were telling the truth when it comes to igniting a fire with a hand or bow drill. Yes, you can actually start a rip roaring flames with nothing more than the friction.

However, you need to have know-how (you know exactly what you’re doing), proper tool (you have created the right bow drill in the first place) and experience (you have the skill and patience) necessary to make these tools work for you in a pinch.

4 Things You Will Need

  1. Proper stick – The very first thing you’ll need to do is find a bow shaped stick that is about a foot or 15 inches long. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but it needs to have a “kink” in the middle so that you will be able to string the surface of it effectively.
  2. String – The next thing that you are going to need to do is get yourself a string that is just slightly larger (longer) then the bow stick itself. The odds are fantastic that you’ll end up using a shoelace out of a boot or some other piece of fabric that you have on hand.
  3. Base – You need a “platform”, basically a piece of wood that you can drill back and forth to get the fire started. Use your knife to cut out a very small notch in the surface of this platform, allowing for a “base of operations” to catch and focus any embers that it provides.
  4. Drill – Last but not least, you will need a stick about eight or 10 inches long that will act as the actual “drill” – and then combine it with the bowstring.

Placing some kindling on top of the platform (directly underneath your stick), you’re going to want to begin working the drill back and forth until you begin to see some embers. You will see some smoke first and foremost, but it’s critical that you don’t stop repeating it until you begin to see real flames kick up.

Smoke always occurs before the fire really begins, the last thing that you want to do is to get “almost there” and extinguish it before it even starts to really burn.

Method #4 – Using Bottle of Water

Method #5 – Using Ice

Method #6 – Using Fresnel Lense

Method #7 – Using Fire Piston

Pay attention:

Here is great list of best brands on the market – The Best Fire Pistons Out There!

Method #8 – Using Aluminum Foil & Battery


Method #9 – Using Gum Wrapper & Battery

Pay attention:

Here is more detailed article about this method – Use Gum Wrapper Plus Battery to Start Fire!

Method #10 – Using Battery & Steel Wool

2 Final Tips Worth Pointing Out

Last but not least, I want to give you 2 extra tips you should keep in mind:

  • Have 2 options – Now that you will know how to use three of the most popular types of fire starting technologies, it’s critical that you have at least two or three of these different items in your pack at all times.
  • Have dry fuel – Not only that, but you also want to bring a supply of weatherproof matches, a lighter that is rated to work in almost any condition, and a steady supply of fuel that you can keep dry as well.

Just remember that fire is the most essential part of survival alongside water, and you need to make sure that you can create one at a moment’s notice – regardless of the conditions.

My BONUS List of Useful Resources

About Jim Worthersky

Hi, my name is Jim and my motto to live by is: Hope for the best while prepare for the worst. My hobbies are swimming, hiking, hunting, scouting & crafting.

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  1. When I was a kid we used to go camping at regular campsites, where a fire pit was always available. Then one year we decided to go to a primitive campsite where we were really “roughing it”, lol. The matches were practically useless because we couldn’t use fire starter fluid in the woods. My dad ended up getting flint and steel from a local store and that worked perfectly.

    Because these items are lightweight there’s no reason not to have them in your pack. You never know when you’re going to need them.

    • That is really good point. Everyone should have a flint & steel packed up when he or she is going into the wilderness.

  2. Aaaahh… brings back Boy Scout memories! We learned how to do the hand drill first since it is the most difficult of all methods. I assume they wanted us to use the hardest method first since it tired most of us out. And you’re right about smoking. Smoke always precludes the fire, but it can still be a while before the fire starts, even with smoke.

    The magnifying glass worked much faster than I thought. It only took a few minutes to get it going. You just have to make sure you leave it in the same place after you get a good ray. And I believe we used to blow on it as well.

  3. When I first tried the magnifying glass method I got a lot of smoke, but no flame. Eventually I figured out that you have to blow on the smoking area to get an ember going. I also read on another board that if you put something that catches fire quickly over the ember (like some toilet paper) and then blow on it, you’ll start the fire a lot quicker. Works every time now!

  4. I always keep plenty of tinder in a waterproof baggie. You can use the lint from the dryer, cotton balls, or dried grass. I believe they also sell tinder material in the camping supply store, but dryer lint has always worked just fine for me.

    The dry tinder definitely makes starting a fire much easier, especially when you’re working with a bow or a magnifying glass. Keep it in one of those ziplock bags so that it doesn’t get wet with the rest of your gear.

  5. Hi Jim,

    These tips came right on time. I’m taking my son and my daughter camping in a few weeks and we’re trying to get some survivalist methods ready. Starting a fire is a big one. Now I know exactly what need.


  6. I am taking my son Henry out camping this weekend and would love to teach him a thing or two about survival skills. Definitely going to attempt the lens method because I recall doing that before, but the drill method looks like a little above my difficulty level so might save that one for another day!

    • Sure, teach him at least two ways how to start a fire as soon as possible. Maybe you could show him even how flint & steel works!

  7. Commercial starters are my go-to technique to get a fire going. Using lighters packed with gas just leads to more plastic in landfills, so it is nice to know you are doing something good for the environment on top of having a starter that will work no matter the weather conditions.

    Sometimes it can be a little difficult to sparks into flames if the kindling is wet, but I have found that when all else fails Doritos actually make excellent for some excellent kindling!

  8. Even in my childhood I remember messing around with ants and my magnifying glass, pretending I was a mad scientist hellbent on burning the poor little animals. Luckily I didn’t realize the need for sun to make the magnifying glass work properly, so the majority of the time I probably just looked less than intelligent to the neighbors watching…

    That reminds me to give this another shot though – the article makes it appear very straightforward to do and I would be very pleased to get a proper fire going using only a magnifying glass and some tinder.

    • Sure, as long as you have dry tinder and enough sunlight starting fire with lens is a no brainer (just keep blowing air on the tinder when it starts to produce smoke).

  9. Expanding on your note above regarding smoke before the fire gets started: If you DO begin to see smoke and then decide that you are not going to pursue starting a fire any longer, be sure to pour some water on and/or stomp your fire so that it does not accidentally spread after you leave the area.

    I had a very close call many years ago at campsite where I got some smoke and then it started to rain, so I called it quits and went to my tent to take a nap. 15 minutes later I smelled leaves burning and poked my head out the tent and was surprised to see that my smokey pile of sticks had turned into a 4 foot wide fire outside of the fire pit. Luckily I had some water handy and was able to extinguish it before any major problems happened, but it made me absolutely think twice before leaving a fire until I was absolutely certain it was out.

    • Emily this should be stressed more during my article! I hope I will be able to add some words about this asap.

  10. My boyfriend and I go camping every few months just to get away from everything, and I will always remember when I asked him to grab some matches and he came back with a pair of binoculars I thought he might have been dropped on his head a child. Turns out, binoculars are actually a very useful tool for getting a fire started on a sunny day and while I can’t seem to get a fire started with them myself I am always impressed at those who can manipulate the sunlight into flame using only a lens.

    • Hey Tanya, it is not that a difficult job to do. Maybe you need only a little more practice and a proper trainer who will be able to teach you. Just ask your boyfriend and I bet he will be more than happy to show you some tricks.

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