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How to Start a Fire Without Matches

You’ve decided to embark on your first backpacking adventure, you’ve got all your gear together, and have taken off, suddenly it’s time to make a campsite and eat some dinner and you realize OH-MY-GOODNESS I FORGOT MATCHES, AH! You’re now panicking and frantic — but this doesn’t have to be the case, and luckily with G in your corner it isn’t. We are sharing all things survival skills this week we began with how to read a compass, then we moved on to knots and tires, now we are getting to major stuff — the stuff that every true outdoorsy adventurer should know and will certainly impress with  — How to Start a Fire Without Matches.

How to Start a Fire Without Matches:

How To Start A Fire Without Matches

How To Start A Fire Without Matches

First Things First

Pick a good location for your fire before you attempt to make one. Make sure there is enough space around the area for you to settle.

How To Start A Fire Without Matches

Step by Step Process

Step 1: Gather tinder, kindling, and fuel. Tinder is light material that can be crumbled into powder or formed into a jumbled ball. Lint, hair, pine needles, fine strips of bark, cattail, tree fungus, milkweed, and moss are all good options. Kindling is small delicate twigs and sticks that are not much larger than a match or pencil. Fuel is the larger sticks and logs.

Step 2: Make a teepee formation by laying down a bed of kindling and a small pile of dry leaves to elevate your fire from the ground and allow oxygen to flow underneath it. Lean the small sticks against each other around the pile so there is a cone shape, and space in the center.

Step 3: Create a nest-like ball with the tinder and soft materials you have collected and set it next to the teepee where there is an opening to fit the tinder through.

How To Start A Fire Without Matches

Step 4: Locate two dry, dead sticks made of softwood. You can give it the softwood test by pressing your fingernail into the wood to see if it leaves a dent. The best place to collect this wood is not on the ground where there is moisture, but caught in bushes or hanging from the dead branch of a tree. Rub the softwood sticks together vigorously to create friction. It will take some work, but if your sticks are dry and soft they, will give way to friction and will produce a spark or ember.

Step 5: Light your tinder with the small ember and gently blow on it until it goes from smoldering to flaming.

Step 6: Place the flaming tinder into the opening at the base of the teepee and lay it on top of the elevated twigs and leaves. Continue to gently blow on it to encourage the flame.

Step 7: As the teepee twigs begin to catch fire, slowly add more kindling to the outside of the teepee to fortify the walls. Continue to strengthen the fire with sticks until it is large and active, then add larger wood one piece at a time. Patience will pay off and ensure you don’t snuff out your fire with too much wood.

Step 8: Gather a circle of rocks or logs to set around the fire to contain it.

How To Start A Fire Without Matches

Other Methods to Get a Spark

  • A magnifying glass, a shard of glass, flashlight lens, or glass bottle held above tinder in very strong sunlight will create a fire. The bigger the magnifying glass, the more easily the fire starts. Use the same steps as above, substituting the magnifying glass in place of the softwood in step 5.
  • Striking together flint and other rocks will cause a spark if you have the right type of rocks. The best way to know is to just try several times. If you have a steel knife, striking it against the flint will be even more effective.

How To Start A Fire Without Matches

Bonus Tip

Fire-enhancing elements are all around you. Anything with alcohol as the primary ingredient will help boost your fire, things like hand sanitizers, perfumes, and astringents. Vaseline, steel wool, pine sap, rubber, and high-fat foods are other good fire enhancers.

Have any tips to share? Leave them for us in the comments or share with us on social media using the hashtag #wildfood!

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