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10 Ways to Make Fire Without Matches

user profile picture JW Apr 28, 2016
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As we look at preparing for uncertain times, we seek to have the resources on hand to weather the storm and be more resilient in our daily lives.  We store water and put food away for shortages or emergency situations.  We make sure we can communicate with family, friends, and loved ones.  We are all working on building resilience our own ways and learning from each other. 

Knowledge and skills acquisition is a topic that resonates greatly with the Peak Prosperity community. In this article we will explore a critical skill to learn and practice that can help you in really tough times or emergency situations – the skill of making fire. 

Yes, yes – matches and lighters are bountiful and cheap.  They are easy to stockpile.  But disaster situations usually don’t present themselves when they are most convenient for you or the preparations that you have been working so hard to build.  Having the right knowledge and being resourceful with what is on hand will be far more rewarding and possibly lifesaving than having stockpiles of gear stored in your garage. 

So here I present the nine great video tutorials on how to start a fire without the use of matches or lighters. 

Friction-Based Fire Making

Bow Drill

The bow drill is probably the easiest of the friction-based methods, but it also requires the most components.  As the following video shows, it takes a number of pieces and a bit of practice to get it right and actually start a fire.  This video also shows the creation of the fireboard (hearth), which is an important piece for both the bow-drill and hand-drill methods.

YouTube video

Hand Drill

It's a bit more work than the bow-drill method, but the hand drill is an effective way to start a fire going if you don't have access to cordage or the other components of the bow-drill system.  At least you will be able to warm your sore hands with your newly created fire once you are done.

YouTube video

Fire Plough

The most energetically intensive method to master, the fire plough is another great way to start fires with limited resources and tools. 

YouTube video

Flint and Steel

Generic Flint and Steel Striker with Char Cloth

This is a quick video showing the basic mechanics of using a striker and a magnesium block.  The same principle works for flint and steel, and all other variations of this type of firemaker.

To make char cloth:

Lens-Based Methods

Water Bottle

A real survival-scenario type method of making fire using a basic water bottle as a lens.  Just make sure you start your fire before drinking your water.

Balloons and Condoms

Similar to using a water bottle, this method uses a clear balloon or condom to hold water and form a focusing lens.  A little more care is required with this method as the material used is more fragile. It would be a real bummer to get a fire started only to have it doused by a bursting balloon.

Fire from Ice

It's possible to use a chunk of ice to form and shape a lens to then create fire.  This is a really "cool" way of making fire, but it makes my hands hurt just thinking about carving and shaping the ice.

The Soda Can

Using the bottom of a can to create a focusing mirror, one can create fire with this everyday common material.  One catch is that you need a polishing substance to create the brilliant mirror for focusing the light, but no worries – lots of tutorials say you can use chocolate.  It's just another method to know about and utilize in an emergency situation.

Batteries and Steel Wool

Steel Wool with a 9-Volt Battery

Using a battery and steel wool, you can create a really hot surface on the wool and make a fire start really easy.  Tuck a battery and a piece of steel wool into your prep kit and you're good to go.

Make Lemon Battery and Steel Wool

An interesting new way to to create the power source and voltage necessary to start a fire with steel wool.  Another exciting set of knowledge to have for better resilience.

YouTube video


With all of these videos giving you insight and a better understanding of the various ways to make fire, emergency warmth and a way to heat water and food are now literally at your fingertips.  We encourage you to practice these techniques to refine your skills and test your knowledge.  Practice will improve your chances of success when you need to use your skills and help reduce stress in emergency situations.  Be safe when trying out these methods, and have a good sense of the potential fire dangers in your area and surroundings. 

In the comments section below, please share any other methods you might have used or found.  And do give the above methods a try – we welcome your feedback, helpful hints, and stories of success!