Aug 19 2013

Be an expert Fire Starter Using Foraged Materials Found In Your Environment

survival fire made with a fire starter

How to be an expert Fire Starter Using

Foraged Materials Found In Your Environment

There are literally hundreds of ways to start a fire if you have the time and resources. However, once you find yourself miles from home needing a fire your fire starter material must be readily available and your methods uncomplicated.

Hikers, hunters and others have literally been left out in the cold because they have found that the matches they had carried all day in their pockets were no good, they would not light.

Matches carried in pockets next to your body will absorb perspiration, making them damp. Matches in backpacks exposed to humidity will become useless as well.

You are miles from home; it is cold and will be dark soon. Will you suffer or do you have the skills to make a fire with what you can forage from your surroundings. 

Fire starter or combustibles are everywhere – lint in your pocket, thread from your clothing and of course dry tinder made from wood.

However, you still need an ignition source: 

bow and drill components


A bow and drill has been used for hundreds if not thousands of years to create a fire using friction.

This fire starter method may have various designs and materials but the basic concept is the same, create enough friction to cause heat to make an ember.

Use shoelaces, cordage from your pack or rope discarded by others that you could forage from the area.

The concept, of course, is to spin the drill fast enough and long enough to create an ember in the fireboard.


The diagram accurately depicts the materials you will need and all materials other than the rope/string can be found on the forest floor.

fire ember in handMake sure you have dry tinder available so once you have an ember you can move the fireboard to combine the tinder and ember. Some experts may describe catching the ember under the notch in the fireboard using a leaf or piece of bark. Then they describe moving the hot coal on the piece of bark or leaf to the tinder. Moving the ember can cause it to extinguish, you can drop it or the wind blow it away.

Move the board away and bring the tinder to the ember.


wood file fire starter

The wood file.

A less complicated technique than the bow and drill but this method requires more effort and both pieces of wood must be extremely dry for this procedure to work.

However, the wood file method has been field tested thousands of times and will work with some patience and attention to detail.



Easy, additional fuel source.  steel flint and striker fire starter

Preppers will always carry alcohol wipes or hand sanitizer in their kit. These contains alcohol which is ideal as a fire starter along with a piece of steel and flint.

Squeeze an alcohol wipe over dry tinder or place some sanitizer on the tinder.

Then take a piece of steel and strike it against flint to create a spark to ignite the alcohol.

A knife blade and flint or a hard stone and steel can be used to create a spark. Actual natural forming flint is the best material to use with steel.


Alternative fire starter ignition sources

fire starter using glassesPiece of broken glass or even a pair of glasses can be used to magnify and focus sunlight to ignite dry tinder.

For best results, the sun should be directly overhead but this method will work anytime the sun is shining, you simply have to position yourself correctly. You can use pieces of headlamp glass, eyeglasses and any clear glass you can find

You may have been on a bicycle tour and had a mechanical breakdown the bike is ruined and you are miles from home.

broken glass headlampUse the headlamp as a fire starter. The glass can be used to magnify sunlight as can the reflective lamp casing. The casing on the right can be placed in direct sunlight with dry tinder placed where the bulb would normally be.

The reflective nature of the casing will direct the sunlight onto the tinder in the centre and will ignite it. 

Many people have had success using a soda can bottom as a reflective material to magnifysoda can as a fire starter and direct sunlight to create a fire in dry tinder. The soda can bottom must be polished to a high reflective nature. You cannot use an abrasive material because scratches in the can will reduce the effectiveness. Most people find that chocolate is ideal as a polishing agent.

Use any piece of soft cloth to buff the metal to a high shine.

Then place dry tinder on the ground and move the can until sunlight is reflecting off the can onto the tinder. This method will take patience and a steady hand but will work.

You may have a tool kit on your bicycle or in your car that may contain some still wool. 

battery starting fire with steel woolBecause steel wool is, metal it conducts electricity well and the wool is made up of thin metal strands that will ignite with a small electrical charge because each strand is thin so any electrical charge will over load the metal causing a fire.

Any small battery will work as long as you can tough both battery posts at the same time with the steel wool. Make sure you have placed the dry tinder on the steel wool before connecting to both battery posts.



Be prepared –

bear grlls ferro rodOf course the ultimate answer to survival is being prepared for any situation with enough equipment to make lighting a fire an easy job for you.

If you are going out on a bug out exercise you will have prepped for lighting a fire with essential fire starter equipment and only need the basic materials found around your camp in order to keep it alight. Included in your kit must be a survival knife. Nowadays quite a lot of survival knives have a good quality Ferro Rod fire starters that works every time and makes life so much easier.

Click to view more info and prices for the Bear Grylls Ultimate with ferro rod shown here >


steel of fire outdoor fire starter kit
For any knife that does not have a ferro rod you can always buy one separately or even invest in a fire lighting survival kit that contains all the essentials to make lighting a fire very easy – typically a kit like the Steel of Fire – Outdoor Firelighting Kit comes with a good quality ferro rod and striker plus hexamine fire starter blocks and several pieces of cotton wool – and it’s not expensive.!!


Fire starter material is everywhere – as are other materials and methods that can be used as an ignition source; you just have to know what you are looking for. Practice your fire starting methods in a controlled environment to gain the skill and self-confidence needed to create fire in any environment.


Additional Basic Survival Articles 

  basic survival skills by ray mears

Essential reading for all outdoor survival

Ray Mears – Outdoor Survival Handbook