Survival Basics – How to Start a Fire

start a fire

You might be a medical professional, a master chef or an experienced huntsman with enough confidence in your abilities to live through a hiking trip or survival situation.

After all, if you have skills beyond simple first aid, can make the best tasting meals out of minimal ingredients and you’re good at catching and trapping small game, you can sustain yourself and the people around you.

However, some people are so confident about their training that they forget certain primal skills which enable our ancestors to survive ages ago.

They didn’t have flashlights, first aid kits and stoves yet they made it through calamities that wiped out entire civilizations. Human ingenuity began when the early humans devised a way to make fire from simple tools.

Few other survival skills are just as crucial as starting a fire without the aid of pre-made tools yet you can find yourself unprepared (despite all your training and confidence) in the event of a natural calamity or get lost in the woods.

A well-lit fire serves many functions as it acts as a beacon or signal, allows you to stay warm, cook food, ward off insects and predators, and boost your morale. Imagine trying to go through the night in the dark woods without a fire.

Night-eyed predators can stalk you without you seeing them, insects would feast on your exposed skin, patrols would never see you as they pass by and you may not have a chance to eat properly. In the battle against sickness, illness and certain death in emergency scenarios, your ingenuity to build a fire may dictate your outcome.

Here are several ways to start a fire without a match or lighter:

1) Hand drill
– Place a board of wood flat on the ground and make sure it is dry. Cut a v-shaped incision in the middle and hammer in a small impression adjacent to it. Add bark into the incision and a 2 foot spindle in the impression.

Build a nest of tinder (dried twigs, leaves, nettles, grass, bark) aside. Rub the spindle across your palm until the bark in the fire board turns into ember. Once it starts to glow, roll the bark into the tinder to start a fire. Add small firewood at first then keep adding larger pieces until you have a well-lit fire.

2) Magnifying Lens
– Use this method to make a fire when the sun is out in the morning or afternoon. Build a tinder nest then angle the magnifying lens one foot or a bit more above it in the direction of the sun, holding it in place with tree branches or stones. Adjust until you see a small and intensified spot of yellow on the tinder and wait for it to burn, then add firewood.

3) Condom Lens
– Open the condom and unwrap it only halfway. Fill it partially with water until it has a small spherical shape. Build a tinder nest then angle the condom lens to catch enough light to throw a small and focused spot. Increase or decrease the water inside until the spot appears bright yellow and your tinder nest catches fire. Add small firewood and then larger pieces until your fire is big enough.

4) Steel Wool and Batteries
– Build a tinder nest. Stretch your steel wool until it is thin then take a 9-volt battery and rub the side with the positive and negative terminals onto the wool until it burns and glows. Be quick to transfer the burning wool into the tinder nest until it catches a small fire and then add firewood.

A well-built fire also serves as your sanctuary and lifts the spirits of your group as you all go through unpredictable times ahead. If you are able to show them that you can build a beacon from simple tools, they will begin to understand the need to work together until help arrives and bide their time with hope in their hearts.

If they are separated from your group, their chances of survival are greater if you’ve imparted a very valuable piece of survival knowledge that can keep them alive.

Next we look at How To Survive In Cold Weather