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How to Make a Fire in the Wild with 4 Ways

If you're an outdoor enthusiast, you must know how to make a fire in the wild. In this article, we provide you 4 easy methods to make a fire in the wild without a match or lighter.

By Lane | @Lane

Updated on Aug 05, 2019

how to make a fire in the wild

Fire is the most important thing you need to survive in the wilderness along with shelter and water. Making fire in the wild can make the difference between living and dying. The fire can provide warmth in cold conditions, heat to dry wet clothes, cooking flame, or smoke for rescue signals. Besides, you also can use the fire to purify water in the wild. It is not a problem to make a fire in the wild if you have match or lighter, but what if you drop the matches into the river or the lighter gets lost along the way? Here are 4 easy ways on how to make a fire in the wild without match or lighter.

Method 1: Use Lenses to Make a Fire in the Wild - Best Way with Strong Sunlight

It is the best way to make a fire in the wilderness in an area with strong sunlight. It takes about 5-10 minutes to make a fire. You can use magnifying glass, disassembled camera lens, binoculars or soda can to concentrate the sunlight to start a fire.

start a fire in the wilderness

Step 1: Pile some kindling in the center of the dry material.

Step 2: Hold the lens above the kindling about a foot away. Tilt the lens toward the sun until there is a small circle of focused light on the kindling. You need to hold the lens at different angles to create the most focused hot spot.

Step 3: Keep the lens in place until the kindling begins to smolder. Blow on the kindling lightly to ignite the other material. 

Step 4: Add some larger dry wood to the flame to make the fire stable.

TIP : If you do not have the lens, you can use the soda can as a lens to make a fire. You can polish the bottom of the soda can with clay, toothpaste or chocolate. They will make the bottom of the can shine like a mirror. Then point the bottom of the can directly towards the sun. It will create a highly focused light on the kindling. Hold the can until the kindling begins to smoke or ignite.

Method 2: Using Batteries and Steel Wool - Fastest Way

If there is no sunlight, you can’t start a fire with the method above. Using batteries and steel wool is also a quite fast and easy way to build a fire in the wilderness without match or lighter. It takes 2-3 minutes to make a fire with the batteries and steel wool. This works by creating a current through the tiny steel wires that then heat up and ignite.

build a fire in the wilderness

Step 1: Stretch out the steel wool and make it about 6 inches long and 0.5 inch wide.

Step 2: Keep rubbing the battery with the terminals on the steel wool. Any battery can do this work, but 9-volt batteries will ignite quickly.

Step 3: The wool will begin to glow and ignite. Blow on it gently to burn other materials.

Method 3: Using Flint and Steel - Easiest Way

It is a good idea to carry a flint and steel set with you on a camping trip. If you don’t carry the flint, you can find it in the wild. The flintstone is harder than steel. So just find the flint by trying it out against your steel knife. It is the easiest way to make a fire in the wild.

make a fire in the wilderness

Step 1: Hold your flint with your thumb and forefinger. 

Step 2: Strike the flint with your steel striker or use the back of your steel knife blade several time. There will be sparks. If you have any char cloth or a piece of dry fabric, wrap it around the flint. It will catch the sparks and start ignite. If you do not have any cloth or fabric in hand, you can also use lightweight tree fungus or birch.

Step 3: Shave the sparks into the kindling.

Step 4: Gently blow until you have a stable flame and place some other material to have your fire.

Method 4: Start a Fire with a Bow and Drill - Traditional Method

This is a traditional method to start a fire in the wilderness. You can make a fire with this method in 5-10 minutes. The technology is simple, but you need more effort and persistence to produce a fire. You need to prepare the spindle, fireboard, socket and bow. 

how to make a fire in the wild

Step 1: Prepare a socket. It can be a stone or a piece of wood with a slight depression in one side. It is used to hold the drill in place and apply downward pressure.

Step 2: Choose a wood as a bow. The bow is a resilient and green stick and 30 inches long.  You should choose the wood with some flexibility. 

Step 3: Get a drill. The drill should be dry and thumb thickness of a soft wood like cedar. It should be about 8 inches long.

Step 4: Prepare a fireboard. Cut a v-shaped notch and create a depression adjacent to it in the fireboard. Place the kindling underneath the notch.

Step 5: Wrap the cord around the drill. You can use string, twine, or shoelaces as the cord.

how to make a fire in the wild 

Step 6: Wrap the cord around the drill once and start turning the bow back and forth when holding he top. You should press down on the drill to give a bit of pressure on the top while doing this. 

Step 7: Apply more downward pressure and work the bow faster once you have established a smooth motion. This will be some smoke and spark. 

Step 8: Blow on the kindling and ignite other material.

TIP : It is important to extinguish your fire thoroughly before leaving it. Douse with water after the fire dies down until you’re left with smoldering wet ashes. Then bury the ashes with wet dirt. You can leave it when there’s no smoke. 

The Bottom Line

We provide you 4 survival techniques on how to make a fire in the wild. You can use any of the methods depend on what items you have or you find. 

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