Three Ways to Light a Fire Without Matches
In a survival situation, the ability to make a fire can allow you to stay warm, cook food, and boil water. It can also give you a sense of control and provide an enormous psychological boost. Many people think first of starting a fire with a match, but you may not always have one available. You should know at least three alternative ways of starting a fire.
3 Ways to Start Match-Free Fires
1. Use an Aluminum Soda Can and Chocolate
Locate an aluminum soda can. If the can is already open, pour out any liquid. Break off a 1-inch piece of chocolate. Try to use pure chocolate, if possible, instead of chocolate with additives such as nuts or pieces of fruit. However, in a survival situation you will need to use what is available.
Tear off a section of the wrapper from the chocolate bar, or locate a piece of paper or wrapper.
Hold the soda can by its side, so that the bottom faces up. Rub or smear a generous amount of chocolate onto the concave bottom of the can.
Use the piece of paper or wrapper to rub the chocolate across the surface of the can bottom, polishing it. Apply more chocolate as you go if needed. Continue until the bottom has a mirror-like reflective surface. This can take up to 1 hour.
Direct the polished bottom of the can toward the sun. Hold a piece of paper, dry grass or other tinder 1 to 2 inches from the center of the can bottom, reflecting light on it. Hold the tinder still for several seconds and watch for smoke, followed by flame. Transfer the burning tinder to an area suitable for building a fire. Add progressively larger pieces of tinder, kindling and wood.
2. Use Magnesium Fire Starter and Steel (pictured at top)
Prepare a small bundle of dry grass, shredded newspaper or other fine combustible tinder. Have larger twigs and kindling nearby to feed the flame as it begins to grow.
Scrape small shavings off of a magnesium fire starter with a knife. Hold the magnesium stick block in one hand and the knife in the other. Run the edge of the blade down the side of the block and scrape or whittle off small shavings. Direct the shavings into the center of the tinder bundle.
Hold a piece steel just above the edge of the magnesium block. With a rapid, downward-glancing motion, strike the side of the magnesium block, creating a shower of very hot sparks. Strike the magnesium several times, directing the sparks down toward the magnesium shavings and tinder bundle.
Watch for the magnesium shavings to ignite and add slightly larger tinder to the bundle. Blow gently on the flame to provide additional oxygen and encourage the fire to spread to the larger wood.
Continue feeding the fire gradually larger pieces of tinder, kindling and wood as it grows.
3. Use a Magnifying Lens
To start a fire using a magnifying glass
, begin by placing a small bundle of fine tinder, newspaper, wood shavings or other flammable material on a surface that is fully exposed to the sun.
Hold a magnifying lens over the bundle, positioning yourself so that you do not block the sun and can focus the lens between the sun and the tinder.
Hold the lens 6 inches or higher above the tinder and look for a small, bright white focal point. Adjust the size of the white spot by raising or lowering the lens until you get it as small as possible. The smaller the spot, the more intense the focal point, and the more heat that will be produced.
Hold the magnifying lens as still as possible and wait a few seconds. Watch for a curl of smoke and a flame to follow. If you want to build your fire elsewhere, you will need to scoop up the smoldering tinder and relocate it to the fire site.
Add progressively larger pieces of tinder, kindling and wood
as the fire grows. It may be necessary to introduce additional oxygen to help the fire burn by gently blowing on the fire.
Other Options for Starting a Fire Without Matches
Of course, these are just a few options for starting fires without matches. Other solutions include starting a fire with flint, using other types of rocks and stones, or even using sticks to start a fire. Of course, no matter what you use to start a fire, it is critical to follow all fire safety rules, including selecting a safe place to do so.
Be Prepared for Any Situation
Any time you head out on an outdoor adventure, make sure to pack items you can use to start a fire if needed. Even if you know how to build a good fire with matches and you carry waterproof matches or a lighter, it's a good idea to be prepared to use other methods that don't require matches or a lighter in case these items get lost or damaged. To maximize your survival skills, it's even a good idea to learn how to make a fire without wood in the wild. The more you know about survival fire-making techniques, including fire-making, the better prepared you will be.
Article Written By Keith Dooley
Keith Dooley has a degree in outdoor education and sports management. He has worked as an assistant athletic director, head coach and assistant coach in various sports including football, softball and golf. Dooley has worked for various websites in the past, contributing instructional articles on a wide variety of topics.
The Latest from the Trails.com Community