How to Make a Fire With Nothing? 11 Pro Methods

how to make a fire with nothing

Starting a fire with the use of matches or a lighter is easy. Most people tend to struggle if they have to make it with nothing. Learning how to make a fire with nothing is difficult but not impossible.

When equipped with the knowledge of making a fire from sticks, you will be able to survive even in an emergency. You will need much practice to master this skill. Your survival in the wild will often depend on your ability to do it.

Remember, it is never too late to learn a new skill. It is always best to gain survival skills you can rely on during emergencies. Your ability to cook and stay warm in the outdoors rests on the fire you ignite.

You will need these three things to start a fire.

  1. Oxygen
  2. Fuel
  3. Heat

When these things combine, you will be able to ignite a fire without matches or lighter.

What are the Different Methods to Make a Fire With Nothing?

There are different methods, but most of these methods need determination and hard work to do so. The various ways you can use to ignite a fire include:

  • Bow Drill
  • Battery and Wool
  • Battery and Tin Foil (Chewing Gum Wrapper)
  • Bottle of Water
  • Flint and Steel
  • Friction Drill
  • Hand Drilling
  • Magnifying Glass
  • Plow Method
  • Soda Can
  • Sandwich Bag

Most of these methods need tinder, spindle and fuel. Mastering these methods is not easy. But with patience and perseverance, you will be able to create a fire with nothing within minutes.

Three Important Things Necessary to Start a Fire

Before we look at the different ways to start a fire, you will need to know about the essential things to start one:

  1. Tinder – It is a dry material that will help ignite the fire with little heat. All that you need is a spark to light up the tinder. The tinder is then used as fuel to ignite the wood.

    There are different sources of tinder, such as:
    • A tree bark, cattail fluff, cotton balls, and steel wool.
    • Wood shavings (dry).
    • The fungus from trees.
  2. Kindling – It is what you add to the tinder so that the fire can get a tangible form. Kindling is an accelerant only lasts only for a short time.

    Tinder provides the initial start and kindling acts as a crucial ingredient to ignite a fire. Twigs and small sticks are the ingredients necessary to start it. You will have to ensure that they are dry.
    dry twigs and small sticksIf you are in a damp place and need to find tinder, you should search for a large wood piece. Break the piece of wood with an axe or rock. You will find that the wood inside is dry. You can use it as tinder.
  3. Fuel – After you start a fire, you will need a source to keep it going. The best source of fuel is anything that burns longer than tinder and kindling. Thick logs are also a good source that will help start a fire.

Irrespective of how you ignite the fire, you will need tinder, kindling and fuel to start the process. When you gain knowledge about these aspects, you will be able to make it with nothing.

Simple Steps to Make a Fire Teepee

After you learn of the different things you need to make a fire, you should know how to build it further. Only when you can build a fire also will you be able to sustain its flame.

  • Building a Bird’s Nest

When starting a fire, you should always ensure that the tinder is in the nest shape. It will help catch any spark that comes when you use different methods.

Gather tinder material like dry bark or grass. Roll the tinder material back and forth in your hands. Manipulate the material in such a way that it resembles a ball.

In the center of the ball, create a depression. It will help make the shape of the bird’s nest. Put light materials in the center of the bird’s nest.

  • Gently Blow the Spark into a Flame

When you start seeing sparks coming out, you should gently blow them towards the ember. It will help create a flame. Within minutes you will be able to make a fire.

  • Wet and Damp Areas

If you are in a wet and damp area, it is best to hold the bird’s nest in your hand. It will ensure that the tinder doesn’t get damp and moist.

11 Different Ways to Start a Fire With Nothing

Now that you know the things you will need to start a fire let’s get started. We will teach you the different methods.

1. Bow Drill Method

You will need a piece of twine or string. You can use a natural forming rope or shoelaces too as a bow to start a fire.

Step 1 – First, make a bow. The length of the bow is 60 – 70 cm. The wood used to make the bow should be flexible. Notch the cord or string on to the bow. Ensure that it is loose so that you use the excess rope in the middle of the drill.

Step 2 – After you have made a bow, you need to make a drill. Cedar (softwood) is often used to make a drill. Ensure that the drilled wood is completely dry.

The drill is about 8 inches long. It should be blunt on one end and blunt round on the other end.

Step 3 – The next step is to get a fire plank. In the middle of the plank, you can make a V-shaped notch. Make a small hole for the drill at the tip of the V-shaped notch. The pointed end of the drill sits in the hollow of the fire plank.

Step 4 – Ensure that the drill doesn’t go through the other side of the hole. It is where the drill gets placed and catches wood dust around it.

Step 5 – Find a rock that you can hold on top of the drill. You can also use a big bone or a notch of a branch to hold the drill. Place tinder under the plank. It will help catch the ember when it forms.

Step 6 – Wrap the string along the drift once. After this, you move the bow left and right. Use a little bit of pressure on top when you do this. You would soon see smoke coming from the dust that gets collected.

Step 7 – When the sawdust pile gathers smoke, you should lift the drill and put some tinder in its place. Gently blow the tinder onto the sawdust so that the smoke grows into a flame. Add the flame to kindling ingredient to start a fire.

2. Battery and Steel Wool

Most old phones have removable batteries. You can use the electrical charge of the battery on steel wool to cause embers. The first step is to remove the battery from the phone.

Rub the steel wool against the battery. Continue this process until you start seeing embers in the wool. Apply tinder and blow into it to get a flame.

3. Battery and Tin Foil

To make a fire in the wild with nothing, you can start it with only a battery and chewing gum wrapper. The chewing gum wrapper has a metallic foil. The metallic foil will help ignite a fire.

Step 1 – The first step is to cut the chewing gum wrapper in the shape of eight. The ends of the cut wrapper should be more significant than the middle. Attach the end of the wrapper to each end of the battery.

Step 2 – When you join the wrapper to the battery, it will help create a circuit. It will help ignite the paper.

4. Bottle of Water

One of the innovative ways is with a bottle of water. All that you need to ensure is that the bottle is clean and the water is clear.

Use the clean bottle of water to concentrate the sun’s rays onto tinder. When you see smoke, you can slowly blow it into a flame.

5. Flint and Steel

Learn how to start a fire with only flint and stone. Flint belongs to a family of stone. The stone can be agate, chert, jasper, obsidian, and quartz. It will help if you choose a stone type that is as hard as steel.

When choosing stones for the fire, you should know that every stone is the right choice. If you cannot identify the rock, you can choose a unique stone variation. You can try the stone against any metal or steel knife you have.

Move the stone you have selected against the steel knife. Rub the stone against the knife blade in a shaving motion. It will create sparks.

If you have a dry piece of fabric, you can wrap it around the stone. It will catch the spark and start emitting smoke.

Place the tinder on the smoke, and it will turn into fire.

6. Friction Drill (Two Man)

If you want to use the bow drill to start a fire, two men are better than one. Instead of using a bow, you can wrap the cord around the drill.

Step 1 – Pull the cord to the left side and then to the right side. When you do this, the drill will start rotating. You can ask your partner to apply pressure on the top of the drill.

Step 2 – The sawdust pile will start smoking soon. Pull the drill out and place tinder in its place. It will immediately develop into a flame.

7. The Hand Drill Method

This is another method to make a fire with nothing you should try. It is a primitive way. You will need dry wood and gritty determination as it is one of the most challenging ways to do it.

Step 1 – The first step is to make a tinder nest. You will be able to make a tinder nest with anything that catches fire such as dry wood, grass or leaves. On the fireboard, make an angular notch. Next to the notch, create a depression.

Step 2 – Place the bark beneath the V-shaped cut. You can use the bark to get a flame from the friction between the fireboard and axle. On the fireboard place the shaft into the groove. The stick works well if it is for two feet.

Step 3 – Shift the weight on the fireboard and start rolling the shaft with your hands. You can continue doing this until you see embers in the fireboard. Tap the fireboard to place the ember into the tinder nest slowly. Blow it gently to get a fire.

8. Magnifying Glass

Starting a fire with a magnifying glass is something you would have done as a kid.

You will need a flashlight lens or any other clear glass. Use the mirror to concentrate the solar power onto tinder, paper or cloth. You will see smoke within minutes. Blow the tinder into the smoke so that it starts a fire.

9. Plow Method

Fire plow or plow method is a simple survival skill. You will have to manually work hard so that you can ignite a fire with nothing but only two pieces of wood.

All that you need is dry wood. It is the friction between the bits of wood that lights the wooden dust particles in the plow.

Step 1 – The first step is to get a large piece of wood. You can use it as a plow board. It is best to choose a log split down the middle. If you are in a damp environment, you can use any wood piece, which is dry.

Step 2 – In the middle of the wood, make a divot. It will be the path that you will use to run the stick. Find a firm shaft. Run the stick through the groove. Ensure that the shaft has a blunt end.

Step 3 – After you have run the stick repeatedly through the groove, you will find wood dust at the end of the divot. When you keep running the shaft along the divot, it will cause friction. It will result in the wooden dust turning into an ember. When you see the ember, you can place some tinder on it. Within minutes you will have a fire.

10. Soda Can

Use clay to rub the underside of a soda can. It will help smoothen and shine it. Place the bottom of the can towards the sun. Next, you will have to place the wood or kindling cloth when the sun reflects its strongest.

The kindling cloth or wood will soon start to light up into smoke. Blow into the tinder so that it develops into a flame.

11. Sandwich Bag

Starting a fire with a sandwich bag is like igniting it with a water bottle. All that you need is a clean sandwich bag filled with clear water.

Hold the sandwich bag with water in such a way that the sun’s rays concentrate and fall on the tinder. Within no time, the tinder will light up.

Preparation is Everything

You need to prepare yourself to do so. Preparation is critical for this kind of fire.

Before you start a fire in the wild, you should decide what you need it. Do you want a small fire to heat some water or need a more significant one to keep you warm? If you are prepared, you will be able to start it within no time.

Choose the Right Firewood

You must choose the right type of firewood if you want to start a quick and small fire. Small sticks and twigs are best. If you can find bundles of dry twigs, you can start collecting them at the same place.

bundle of dry twigs

The best of twigs is usually not thicker than a matchstick. A dozen twigs will act as an excellent fuel to help you make a fire. If you want to avoid smoke, remove the bark from the twigs.

Ensure the Fire Gets Air

The fire needs oxygen to burn. If the fire doesn’t get adequate oxygen, it will not burn and only create smoke. Don’t allow it to get stoked out. Keep adding fuel so that it continues to burn.

Different Types of Smokeless Fires

If you see smoke emitting from a fire, it means incomplete combustion. It is a sign that the fire is not burning correctly. You can use different methods to create smokeless fires.

When you are trying to make a fire, you design it in a specific way. Known as fire lay, it is the way you arrange the fire. Each fire lay is different and serves its unique purpose.

1. Upside Down Fire Method

Build an upside-down fire if you want to reduce smoke and ensure complete combustion. In this method, you will be arranging the primary fuel and then build a fire on top of it. You will need lots of tinder and kindling to start it this way.

The fire burns through the fuel, and this helps produce less smoke.

2. Teepee of Twigs

It is one of the most common ways to make survival fires. The teepee is a great way to make a fire. The small teepee of twigs burns quickly and is the right choice for making food in the wild.

teepee of twigs

3. Dakota Fire Hole

It is another method of making a fire. All you need to do is to dig a pit with a stick. Dig two holes that are afoot apart. You can then create a tunnel between them. One of the pits should be slightly large so that you can use it to start a fire.

Before you prepare the pit, you should consider the direction of the wind. Be careful as a gust of wind can turn a small fire into a big one within minutes.

When the fire starts burning, the air gets sucked through the tunnel you created between the pits. It will help keep the fire burning hot. Always use dry wood to make a fire. Damp wood will frustrate all your efforts.

Always Remember to Extinguish the Fire

After you have finished with the necessity of creating a fire, remember to extinguish it. You will have to dispose of the unburned material and ashes properly. It will help reduce the impact of the fire on the environment.

Instead of pouring water on the ashes, you can use damp soil to extinguish the fire. You should know that it is often challenging to sustain a big fire. You don’t need much of an effort to maintain a small fire.

Keep insects away from you by adding some damp wood to the fire. It will create smoke and keep the insects away. Do you want extra light at the camping site? Use softwood instead of hardwood as softwood produces different light.


Learning how to make a fire with nothing takes a lot of practice. You don’t have to wait until you are in an emergency to learn this survival skill. When you gain this knowledge, you can survive even in the wild.

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