How to Start a Fire with Nothing: The 4 Top Methods

Make the fire

Every person should know how to start a fire with nothing. It’s simply an essential survival skill. You’ll never know when you need to use this skill in an emergency and you don’t want to be stuck in the cold and the dark, without a fire to protect you and keep you warm. Whether you’re lost in the woods, forgot your fire-starting supplies on your camping trip, or a natural disaster has struck, learning how to make fire can be a lifesaving skill that you can rely on even during the worst of times.

If you want to learn how to start a fire with nothing, be prepared to sweat. Many of these methods will take a lot of arm power and sheer determination. You can choose from the following techniques:

  • Friction
  • Hand drilling
  • Plow
  • Bow drill

These techniques will only require some tinder, a fire board made out of wood, a spindle, and in some cases, extra materials to help an ember spark a fire. But learning how to master these techniques is anything but easy. However, with patience and practice, you will be able to start a fire using only these raw materials, and you can do it in a matter of minutes.

Read on to learn more about these challenging ways to start a fire and find out which method is by far the hardest to master.

Friction Fire Making

friction fire

This method of starting a fire is tough and not the best option. It’s actually the most difficult way to start a fire. There are many different types of techniques you can try to make a fire using friction, however, the most important aspect of this technique is the type of wood you choose for the spindle and fire board. The spindle refers to the stick you’ll need to use to create the friction. If you’re able to create enough friction between the fire board and the spindle then you can create an ember that you can use to create fire. The following types of wood are the best choices:

  • Walnut
  • Cypress
  • Cedar
  • Willow
  • Aspen
  • Juniper
  • Cottonwood

The wood you use for both the fire board and spindle must be bone dry in order for this technique to work. If the wood isn’t dry then you’ll need to dry it out prior to use. Next, you’ll use a fire board and make a v-shaped notch in it, with a small depression right next to it. Place a piece of bark directly under the notch so it can be used to snatch up the falling embers. The spindle should be at least two feet in length and should be placed in the depression on the board. Now you can begin spinning the spindle between your hands, moving it quickly. This should be done until you create an ember on the fire board. Once you see an ember, now tap the board to drop it onto the awaiting bark. The bark should then be transferred to the tinder nest. Next, blow on the flame gently

Hand Drilling

This is the most primitive method and it’s the second most difficult way to start a fire. To use this method, all you’ll need is some determination, strong hands, and dry wood. You’ll start by building a decent sized tinder nest which will be used to create the flame you’ll get from the spark you create. You can make this nest out of any type of material that will burn fast, such as:

  • Bark
  • Leaves
  • Paper
  • Grass

Fire Plow

Use a fire board and spindle for this technique, making a groove in the fire board which can be used as the track for the spindle. Now take the top of the spindle, placing it in the fire board’s groove and begin rubbing the tip of the spindle up and down the track. A tinder nest should be placed at the end of the fire board, so that you’ll end up plowing the embers into it as you rub. Once the nest catches fire you can gently blow on the nest to get the fire going.

What is a Bow Drill?

One of the most effective friction-based methods for starting a fire is the bow drill. This is because it’s much easier to maintain the pressure and speed you need to use to create enough friction to ignite a spark. You’ll need a bow and socket in addition to a fire board and spindle. The socket is used to place pressure on an end of the spindle as it rotates with the bow. The socket can be another piece of wood or a stone. If you use wood, make sure it’s harder than the wood you’re using for the spindle. To make a bow, you’ll need to use a flexible piece of wood that’s curved slightly. The bow’s string can be a strip of rawhide, rope, or even a shoelace.

Related Questions

What Type of Bag or Case Should I Use to Carry Survivalist Supplies?

Before you run out and buy emergency supplies, your first step is buying the best survival backpack. I recommend the Uncharted Supply Emergency Survival Backpack – SEVENTY2. These bags are designed with durability in mind and often come loaded with a ton of pockets and compartments so you can stuff it with plenty of gear and still remain organized.

Is Drinking Pond Water Safe?

No. Pond water can be home to a host of contaminants including parasites, animal waste, bacteria, and viruses. If you want to drink from this type of water source, it must first be purified to kill and eliminate many of these contaminants. To learn more, click here to read my article on what is the best way to purify water.

Final Thoughts

Learning how to start a fire with nothing may save your life one day. You may end up in the woods with a broken down vehicle and no help in sight. Or you could be stuck in a tough situation during a natural disaster. The methods I’ve discussed here can take some serious elbow grease, but in the end, learning these skills will be invaluable.

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