How to Start a Fire with a Magnifying Glass

How to Start a Fire with a Magnifying GlassWhether you're in a trying survival situation or just camping in the woods, a fire is an integral element of being out in the wilderness overnight. No matter how well you prepare, you never know what could happen in the wilderness. Maybe you lost your lighter, maybe your matches got wet, but you find yourself in the middle of the forest without a comfortable means of starting a fire. You do have a magnifying glass and the bright midday sun. All is not lost--here's a method for creating a fire from those two elements.


Difficulty: Challenging

How to:

Things You’ll Need:
  • Dry tinder
  • Clear, sunny conditions
Step 1
Locate a good spot. You want a spot that's dry, safe and insulated from any wind. Create a fire pit or rock circle if desired.
Step 2
Get your tinder. Igniting a fire using this method is difficult to begin with, so be sure to use good, dry tinder so that you can properly harness the heat of the sun and turn it into fire. If you don't already have tinder, consider using dry bark shavings or dry grass. Compact the tinder into a loose ball.
Step 3
Line up the magnifying glass with the sun to obtain the best angle onto your tinder. You want to focus the sun's light onto a single point on the tinder, making that point as small and concentrated as possible. This may take a little adjustment to get the best angle.
Step 4
Hold the magnifying glass steady and continue focusing the light onto your tinder. Be patient; it may take a while before anything happens.
Step 5
When the tinder begins to smoke and smolder, blow or fan it to help ignite a flame.
Step 6
Once the flame has ignited, continue to foster the flame so that it grows and doesn't go out. Put some kindling on it and continue to blow the flame until you have a fully functioning fire. Proceed with putting on additional firewood like you would with any fire.

Tips & Warnings

If you don't have a magnifying glass, you can use other convex lenses such as binoculars, camera lenses and even the bottoms of glass bottles.
Though it may be the last thing on your mind at the time, this method is most effective when the sun is at it's peak (12 to 2 p.m.).
If it's not a bright, sunny day, consider using another method for starting your fire.

Article Written By Joe Fletcher

Joe Fletcher has been a writer since 2002, starting his career in politics and legislation. He has written travel and outdoor recreation articles for a variety of print and online publications, including "Rocky Mountain Magazine" and "Bomb Snow." He received a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Rutgers College.

Don't Miss a Thing!

All our latest outdoor content delivered to your inbox once a week.



We promise to keep your email address safe and secure.