4 Easy Ways to Start A Fire Without Matches

March 01, 2022 5 min read

how to start fire without matches

Do you know how to start a fire without matches?

If you ever find yourself in a survival situation, one of the first things you’ll be thinking of is fire.

It provides a means of staying warm, a way of cooking your emergency food supply, or boiling and purifying water.

Fire also provides a bit of comfort in what could be a horrifying situation.

However, you may find that you don’t have matches or a lighter on you, or it may just be so wet that your matches won’t light at all.

What do you do now?

That’s precisely what we are tackling today - building a fire without any matches.

A Brief History of Matches

vintage matches for firestarting

Before you learn how to start a fire without matches, you should know a little about the history of matches themselves.

Matches were invented by a British pharmacist named John Walker by accident in 1826.

Walker had accidentally scraped a wooden instrument he was using to mix paste made for guns when it caught fire.

After this breakthrough, Walker had begun producing a flammable paste made with autumny sulfide, potassium chlorate, and gum arabic that he dipped cardboard strips coated with sulfur.

Walker named these early matched “friction lights” and sold them to the locals, and they took off quickly.

Because he didn’t patent his invention, it was quickly copied by Samuel Jones of London, who started selling “Lucifers” in 1829.

As time went on, match-making became a common trade across England.

There were hundreds of factories across the country, and matches became an everyday item that everyone had.

Prepare to Build a Fire Without Matches

prepping for how to start fire without matchesBefore beginning your fire-making-endeavors, gather your supplies, and build your “nest” to catch any sparks.

This is the finest, driest, and wispiest material you can find.

Think dry grass or the carvings of the inside of a log.

It should be able to catch on fire easily so that you can add it to your kindling. When you have to build a fire without matches, you need it to start as easily as possible.

Other tools that can help you on your quest to understand how to start a fire without matches are Char cloth (a piece of cotton fabric that has been made to catch fire easily) or steel wool.

These are great for creating your nest.

Starting a Fire with Flint and Steel Instead of Matches

starting fire with flint and steel

This was once the most popular methods for starting a fire.

This is probably the easiest way to start a fire without matches and can be mastered with a bit of practice.

Flint and steel is the process of striking a high carbon piece of steel with a piece of flint. When they collide, a spark erupts.

Catch the spark in your nest and gently blow on it to ignite the fire.

Today’s versions use a human-made flint called ferrocerium (you’ll sound like you’re doing a spell from Harry Potter when you say it), but it will still work the same way.

Starting a Fire with a Bow or Hand Drill

You’ve probably seen people rubbing sticks together in the movies to create fire.

Although they make it look easy and they are doing it completely wrong in the first place, it can be done.

This method of starting a fire without matches uses friction between a plank of softwood and a spindle of hardwood.

When rubbed together, they will create an ember that can be transferred to your nest.

I’ve watched people try this for hours/days on end and still not be able to make a fire, so practice this one beforehand!

Starting a Fire with Your Lens

starting a fire with lens

Although this is not really a primitive way of creating a fire, it can be beneficial if you have to start a fire without matches.

If you ever watched the kid down the street burn leaves or toys with a magnifying glass, you’ve seen the start of what could actually be a decent fire.

Using the lens from a magnifying glass, pair of glasses, or even the lens from binoculars, you can concentrate the sunlight going through to create a small beam.

That beam has the potential for starting your nest on fire. Similarly, this can also be done with a baggy filled with water.

Just make sure to twist your water bag as tight as possible, making it as close as possible to a sphere, and use the sun as you would with a lens.

Starting a Fire with Batteries and Steel Wool

battery steel wool

These items are every day, but you don’t necessarily think to use them together unless you’re trying to start a fire without matches.

This method works best with 9-volt batteries, but you can use other batteries as well.

Take a piece of fine steel wool and wisp it out into a 6-inch string. You don’t want to break it apart, making it lose the connection when you use it.

Just gently pull until you’ve got a good length.

Hold one end of the steel wool on your battery’s negative link and gently brush the other along the positive side.

You’ll see sparks and will begin to glow almost immediately.

Transfer to your nest, and voila! Fire!

Take some time now to practice different ways of building a fire.

Not only is it fun, but it could save you during an emergency.

Make it a family activity by getting the kids involved, but remember always to practice safety first.

Have a bucket of water nearby and be smart about where you are building your fire.

Conclusion - How To Start a Fire Without Matches

There you have it, four quick ways on how to start a fire without matches.

  1. Starting a Fire with Flint and Steel instead of Matches 
  2. Starting a Fire with Bow or Hand Drill instead of Matches
  3. Starting a Fire with Lens instead of Matches
  4. Starting a Fire with Batteries and Steel Wool instead of Matches

Any of these methods could help you if you’re ever stuck somewhere trying to start a fire without matches or a lighter.

They also are just fun in general.

Now that you know how to start a fire without matches, it’s time to take your next hike or emergency bug-out to the next level with our Valley Food Storage 72 Hour Emergency Food Kit.

This kit contains enough food to keep you going in a short term emergency, or enough to take along on your next camping trip.

  • 2 Breakfast Pouches ( 5 Servings Each)
  • 2 Entree Pouches (5 Servings Each)
  • 1 Pouch of Freeze Dried Fruit

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    Click here to get your 72 Hour Food Kit from Valley Food Storage.