How to Make a Fire Without Wood in the Wild

How to Make a Fire Without Wood in the WildBuilding a fire without wood is not difficult; keeping it going is another matter. Nearly all of the materials that function as fuel in the wilderness burn very quickly. Without a nice, broad wooden log or another slow-burning wilderness fuel such as cow manure, you will not be able to leave your fire burning for even a moment. If you expect to be camping in an area without wood available, plan ahead and bring your own fuel or a portable camp stove.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Things You’ll Need:
  • Spade
  • Silverware
  • Fuel
  • Fire starter
Step 1
Set up a fire pit. Dig a pit 3 to 6 inches deep and about 2 feet across using your hands, a spade, silverware or whatever other tools are available. Surround it with a ring of rocks. If there are no rocks nearby, make the pit 9 inches deep. Remove any dried leaves, twigs and other flammable materials that are within six inches of your fire.
Step 2
Gather fuel for your fire. Find tinder fungus, grass, dried leaves, pine cones and pine needles. These materials burn much more quickly than wood, so gather as much fuel as possible and place it in a pile near your fire pit. If you can find dried cow feces or other dry animal scat, place it in a separate pile. Animal waste burns more slowly, creating a longer-lasting fire.
Step 3
Build a small pile of kindling such as dried leaves, tinder fungus, dry grass and other small, quick-burning items in the middle of the pit. Build a pyramid of larger materials such as pine cones, tinder fungus and cow dung around the small pile.
Step 4
Light the inner kindling pile using the method of your choice such as a match, a lighter or a flint and steel fire starter kit.
Step 5
Fan the flames gently to help the fire start. Use a flat surface such as a paper plate to gently blow air on the fire. Do not fan the flames aggressively, because you can blow the fire out or blow light fuel such as dried grass out of the fire pit.
Step 6
Tend the fire. Your inner kindling pile and pyramid will catch on fire quickly and burn up quickly unless you have a more slow-burning material such as manure. Constantly add fuel to the fire to keep it alive.

Tips & Warnings

Bring charcoal or camp stove fuel pellets along to feed your fire.

Article Written By Isaiah David

Isaiah David is a freelance writer and musician living in Portland, Ore. He has over five years experience as a professional writer and has been published on various online outlets. He holds a degree in creative writing from the University of Michigan.

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