When it comes to surviving in the wilderness, it’s crucial to prioritize your basic needs. Those include food, shelter and water.
Of course, starting a fire is just as important for enduring the elements, and knowing how to ignite a flame without a lighter or matches may just save your life.
With that in mind, here are three ways to start a fire in the wild.
1. Bow Drill
One of the most famous ways to make a fire also happens to be the most difficult — employing friction.
This method entails quick movements and a resilient spirit, especially if your body is already depleted of nutrients, water and warmth. It’ll also require a good deal of fire-starting know-how.
First, you must gather all your materials. Find a piece of wood with a slight curve about the size of your forearm. This will serve as your bow wood.
Then, pull out a piece of paracord or rope for the bowstring. Even your shoelaces are fair game, here.
Next, find a rock, shell or another item with a notch to fit the spindle — this item will be your socket — and a piece of dry, dead softwood for the fireboard.
Lastly, you must find a 12 to 15-inch piece of softwood that measures about an inch in diameter. This small piece of wood will serve as the spindle.
Use your knife to whittle both ends into blunt points. Then, gather your tinder and kindling.
Carve a small hole in the fireboard to fit the spindle and a v-shaped notch to collect coal and hot dust. Then, place your tinder underneath.
Place the spindle on the fireboard and the socket on top of the spindle. Catch the spindle within the bowstring loop and begin sawing back and forth, quickly rotating the spindle in its hole until you create an ember.
Transfer this ember to your tinder, blow gently and begin building your fire.
2. Flint and Steel
If you’re going camping or backpacking, it’s probably smarter to pack flint and steel than it is to bring matches. A box of matches can easily become wet and useless.
However, flint and steel are still likely to spark, even when wet. Just be sure to have a char cloth or tinder kit handy — and dry — so you can use this method any time.
Place your nest of tinder on a dry surface and place the char cloth on top. Make an indentation to catch the spark. Then, strike your flint against the steel until a spark ignites the char cloth.
Fold the glowing ember into the cloth and place it inside the tinder nest. Gently blow on it until the nest begins to flame. Finally, use kindling to build a small fire.
If you didn’t pack a flint and steel set, you can always improvise by using quartzite and your pocket knife, instead.
Strike the sharp edges of the rock with your knife to send sparks flying. Then, ignite your tinder and build your fire just as you would using flint and steel.
3. Ice Lense
Who would have thought you can make fire from ice? As impossible as it sounds, you can, indeed, keep yourself warm by using ice as a firestarter.
In freezing cold survival situations, this method might just save your life.
First, locate or make the ice you want to use. The block must be as clear as possible for this to work, so either melt and freeze some snow or search frozen ponds and lakes for a nice clear chunk.
Your end product should be about two inches thick.
Next, use your knife to shape the ice into a convex lens — thicker in the middle and thinner around the edges.
Use the heat of your hands to create a smooth surface and shape the block into a more circular form.
Angle your lens toward the sun and place a nest of tinder in the small beam of light that filters through. Eventually, the pile will begin smoking and catch fire.
Health Benefits of Starting a Fire
Aside from the obvious benefit of survival, starting a fire can also have health benefits.
For instance, one study found that sitting beside a fire decreased blood pressure and enhanced the effects of pro-sociality.
Interestingly enough, water also comes with its own benefits. A dip in a pool, lake or pond can promote muscle relaxation and relieve tension that contributes to stress.
Thus, both elements can benefit your mental and physical health — whether you’re in survival mode or not.
Surviving Another Night
Starting a fire in the wild can provide a sense of safety and comfort, even in the most dire situation.
It also offers warmth and light, a place to cook food and even defense from certain wild animals and insects.
In short, knowing these fire-starting options will increase your chances of surviving another night and, eventually, finding civilization.
What is your preferred method for starting a fire? Let us know in the comments section below!