How to Make a Fire Without Matches – A Step by Step Guide

Two methods for starting a fire without the use of those sulfur sticks

how to make a fire without matches

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If you are preparing for off grid living, then you need to have your survivalist skills at their peak.

This means that your survival kit needs to be packed with items which will sustain you beyond the 3 to 7 days for which it was designed.

Hopefully, your pack has either flint and steel or string and a bearing block so that you can make a fire.

This article will focus on how to start a fire using these two devices, neither one of them require matches.

Video About Starting a fire using Flint and Steel

Most survival kits opt for having flint and steel over having a firecraft kit for a bowdrill. The main reason for this is that flint and steel are rather common and most people can do this task without too much training. 

To start you will need to have the following:

  • Flint or Quartz 
  • Steel (carbon based not stainless)
  • Kindling

The main focus is not to get a “flint” but to get a hard stone which has a sharp edge on one side. 

The best way for you to find out if you have a rock which is hard enough to make a fire is to test it.

Take your carbon steel and strike the rock against the blade. If you see any sparks coming from the steel then you can use that rock to start your fire.

However, if you find that the rock breaks or that you do not get any sparks, you will need to find another rock.

After you have found your flint and confirmed that you have carbon based steel you are ready to start your fire.

Here is what you need to do:

  • Find a location where you want to build your fire. Clear away any lose debris to ensure that the fire is contained.
  • Place your kindling in a lose pile. You want to keep in mind that the fire will need to breathe. If your kindling is too tightly packed or if it is not dry enough, it may not catch.

I have found that tree moss and dry grass/weeds work the best. Where some may use leaves, I would advise against doing so unless absolutely necessary.

The reason is that leaves usually give off a great deal of smoke but rarely give off enough fire to do anything.

The fire crawls up the leaf instead of igniting.

Hold the steel with a firm grip. You want to ensure that you also have the steel tilted down at an angle of about 45 degrees or so in order to coach the sparks into going into the kindling.

What you do not want is to move the flint and steel together or to strike the steel and flint at an angle where the sparks will be extinguished before they can catch.

Using the other hand strike the flint to the steel in quick short strokes. It may take you a while to get any sparks to catch.

However, once the kindle catches you will want to slowly build up the fire.

Cup your hands to keep the wind from putting it out (do not smother the fire but cup your hands just enough to keep the air out).

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The Bowdrill Method

Where flint and steel are common in firecraft, you can start a fire even if such is not available. To do so you will need to make a bowdrill. This is a bit of a more advanced survival technique, but with practice anyone can master it.

For this method you will need:

  • A bearing block or hand hold
  • A hearth board or fireboard
  • The spindle
  • A bow
  • A bowstring
  • A spark board /ember pan
  • Kindle

You need to have your fire ready to go right off the bat meaning that once you have the kindle lit you can put it into you’re a frame fire. The next step is to make your bow.

To make your bow do this:

  • Find a strong curved green branch. It should be about the width of your thumb and about the length from your fingertips to your elbow (of the same size as the axe which you have in your survival kit).
  • A sturdy string. If you have military grade shoes then use the laces as they will more than likely stand up to the use.
  • Make a notch to tie the string to the narrow end.
  • To make your socket use a small piece of wood which will fit nicely in your hand. You will need to find a hardwood and cut a indention which reduces friction in the hand held part of the socket.
  • Your spindle needs to be NON-GREEN without resign.
  • The best wood is deadwood which have not fallen to the earth. Make your spindle as straight as possible. Make the point to the spindle about as big as a pencil with a flat point. Round the other end.

To make your hearth board:

  • Find a very dry piece of hardwood
  • Make it straight
  • Make a indention only slightly bigger than the tip of the spindle
  • After building your bow and other pieces for your bow drill you will need to actually start the fire.
  • What you will need to do is to place the spindle into the bearing block. Next move the bow back and forth across the spindle.
  • carve a notch to allow air to get to the ember

As the wood heats up you will see smoke. Do not expect the flames to just burst forth. You will want to heat the wood up till it is rather hot and then add a small amount of kindle or a pre-made piece of charcoal to your hearth.

Once you have the hot coal add that to your kindle. As with the other method you will want to coach your fire and then put it into you’re fire setup.

I do understand that there are many different ways to use a bowdrill. You are encouraged to find the methods that works best for you. 

It is assumed that the survivalist will have the basic skills of fire building, be able to use an axe and knife, and that they understand the difference between hardwood and green wood.

If you need help with these do some research as these are fundamental to survival.

Video About How to Build a Bow Drill Fire: Complete Step by Step

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