5 Methods to Start a Fire Without Matches or Lighter

Stuck in the middle of nowhere and the cold gripping, you may only think about one thing—trying to get warm. Starting a fireplace could be your surface-level survival insight. But creating a fire might seem almost impossible with no lighter or matches. 

Luckily, there are ways to start a fire, even without a lighter or matchsticks. These items may be the most convenient tools to start a fire effortlessly. They’re easy to use and portable and can ease your worries about not having your ambiance lit when you desperately need it. 

Knowledge about alternative ways to start a fire can be the contingency plan you’ve never thought of. This article examines the five ways to start a fire without a lighter. 

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1. Friction Based Methods  

Friction-based techniques for starting a fire date way back in ancient history. The timing of humans discovering a fire isn’t yet clear, but it gave a foundation for understanding how it works and how to start it.  

So, “How to start a fire without a lighter”  By simply using friction. It depends on the materials you use and the properties supporting their ignition. 

Friction generates heat, and that’s a concept basic science can explain. Rubbing two things with rough surfaces together converts kinetic energy to thermal energy. Persistent rubbing can eventually create heat and start a fire. 

Traditional ways of creating fire using friction include: 

Using Flint and Steel 

Gather dry grass and position them on the ground. Grab the steel with your left hand and make quick and pressed movements using a flint while moving downward. Repeat to create fire sparks and ignite the grass to start a fire. 

You can still use an unused celluloid guitar pick instead of grass since it’s flammable. Simply use your camping knife to scratch the guitar pick. That should produce inflammable celluloid powder, which you’ll ignite using the flint and steel. 

Although rarely available, celluloid guitar picks can be practical in starting a fire. 

Using a Bow Drill  

The bow drill method requires less effort and is quicker to create a fire. Simply acquire a piece of wood—find one lubricated with sap or oil for more immediate results—and a socket, and cut a V-shaped groove notch. Place the fireboard on a tinder nest for easy amber ignition. 

With your premade bow and spindle, catch the latter in your bow’s string in a loop. Place your spindle’s end in the fireboard groove and place the socket (a rock, perhaps) on the other end before applying pressure. Start sawing before collecting your amber with the tinder nest to create some fire. 

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Drilling by Hand 

You may take a walk through history by using the drill method. However, you should know that it can be a reasonably punitive method since it’s relatively tricky. 

The silver lining is it’s the simplest among all methods in this category. Place a notched piece of wood (with another adjacent V-shaped notch to collect amber) on a tinder nest and spin using a spindle. You can add bark underneath the notch for added friction. 

2. Lens-Based Methods 

The lens can be impeccable in creating a fire and doesn’t require sweating. These camper’s essentials utilize the heavens-given resource, the sun, to get the smoke billowing. Simply get under direct sunlight and place a piece of paper or tinder nest on the ground, stretching out the lens in the sun’s full light. 

Try to focus the thin light beam on the tinder nest or piece of paper for a while and wait for ignition. Easy Peasy! 

You may still improvise your lens if you don’t have the traditional one. A water bottle can serve you best since it, too, can concentrate sunlight into a thin beam to ignite your tinder nest or paper. 

Another relatively unconventional method can be using a piece of ice, preferably in a lens shape. Curving your ice into a lens should be easy, and you can use your knife to smooth the rough edges effortlessly. 

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3. Battery and Steel Wool  

A 9-volt battery can be easy to find in your garage or the store rack where you store your electronics. Or, you could keep one handy, purchased from the store before going outdoors. You can still use the battery to light your spotlight, so it’s all gains. 

You can rub the battery on steel wool until it starts to glow. A single-ended battery can do the trick better than a tubular one. Ensure you collect the spark on a tinder nest while continuously blowing the amber to create a fire. 

4. Toothpaste and Soda Can 

Quite unconventional but practical. Most soda cans have concave bottoms, which can be resourceful for starting a fire if you don’t have a lighter. Polish the underside with your toothpaste to give it a sparkly feel. 

That should create a parabolic mirror for focusing the sunlight into a thin beam on a tinder nest or piece of paper. And just like that, you’ll have your fire. 

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5. Chemicals 

Chemicals can be a viable way to start a fire if you can find a secret compartment in your backpack to store them safely. Some chemicals can be violent; hence, alternative ways can do the trick. 

If push comes to shove and chemicals are your last resort, ensure you mix glycerin and potassium permanganate. This combo’s reaction generates heat, creating fire sparks to ignite a tinder nest. You’ll have your fire right there. 


A lighter or match can be handy, but you’re spoiled for choice with numerous alternatives that can start a fire comfortably. You can light up your space with the most generic items around your home. All it takes is understanding what to have and how to do it, and you’ll be all set. 

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