Emergencies can happen anywhere and at any time. Even if you come prepared to the campsite with matchsticks kept in a waterproof container or newspaper rolled up in a bag, it can all easily become useless.
This is why it’s best to know all the tips and tricks on how to make a fire in the wild with nothing. Just in case!
Wait, Can You Make a Fire in the Wild With Nothing?
Even if you have nothing of use on hand, you’ll still need something you can work with to start a fire and boil water for drinking. Fire doesn’t appear out of thin air!
Here are the essential items you’ll need to have.
Ignition to create a spark
Preferably use a lighter or a few matches. If they aren’t available or they become unusable, then look for rough, palm-sized rocks or wooden sticks.
Just in case, pack a tinder kit that comes with dry material or a flint and steel kit that has char cloth included. A magnifying glass lens also works.
Fuel to turn the spark into flame
Look for fast-burning tinder or some kindling and a few logs of long-lasting firewood.
How to Make a Fire in the Wild With Natural Materials
Mother Nature has plenty of gifts for mankind, and many of them can be used to start a fire if you’re ever stranded in the wilderness with nothing on hand to build a firepit.
Before building a firepit, gather the materials to create the flame. First, you’ll need something to ignite the spark. Look for long, durable sticks or rough-edged rocks and preferably a piece of steel. Rub them together to create friction until there’s a spark.
Next, search for firestarters or something to catch the ignited spark. The best recommended material is birch bark, as it’s flammable even if it’s wet. If birch bark isn’t available, search for hardened saps (chewing gum-sized) like spruce.
Then, you’ll need fuel to reproduce the spark into a flame. So, look for tinder or kindling which are small twigs, branches, and dried leaves and such. This is optional, but you could spread a little bit of sanitizer on the kindling and start a flame as well.
Make sure not to overcrowd the firepit with wood and fire starters, as oxygen needs room to move. Also, remember to clean off the area when it’s time to leave so a forest fire doesn’t break out accidentally.
How to Make a Fire in the Wild With Rocks
Friction is a fire’s best friend, and there’s no better way to test their loyalty than to rub a few palm-sized rocks together and start a fire. This is done using silica-based rocks, of which the most recommended are flint rocks.
Flint has many varieties and can be found as obsidian, jasper, quartz, agate, or chert. If there isn’t flint available in the wilderness, look for rocks that have sharp corners or rough surfaces. The best ones can be found near river beds.
As a primary tool, make sure to keep a flint and steel kit in your backpack. They are highly convenient, compact in size, and mostly inexpensive.
To start a fire with rocks or flint, take the rough edge of the rock and place it on a piece of steel, if available. Then, hold the steel in one place and run the stone over it up and down continuously until there is a spark. Quickly take a piece of tinder (small twigs, branches, or dried leaves), catch the spark, and turn it into a flame.
How to Make a Fire in the Wild With Only 2 Sticks
You’ll need to find dry pieces of branches from the same tree to build a spark, as well as some kind of tinder or fibrous material to catch the flame. Branches from lightweight wood like hibiscus trees work great, and coconut husks are a wonderful tinder source.
The wilderness is full of dried fruit shells on the ground, small twigs from young trees, and large logs from old trees, but just because all of that is flammable, it does not mean they are good fire starters. So, make sure the piece of wood sticks you grab are dry and the tinder source is coarse and fibrous.
To make the fire, take one stick and break off a corner to reveal a sharp edge that will be used to create friction. Then, flatten one side of the other stick by running a rock up and down on it. The track should be at least eight inches long.
Next, hold the rough-edged stick in one hand, hold down the flattened wooden stick so it doesn’t move, and then rub the sharp corner of the first stick back and forth in the groove you made.
As the wood bits start shaving away, you’ll notice the flattened stick get heated. At this point, rub the edge of the stick faster so the heat turns into smoke that chars the wood. This charcoal can be used on the tinder source to start a flame.
How to Make a Fire in the Wild With a Plastic Bag
All you’ll need to start a fire in the wild using plastic garbage is a bag, dry pieces of wood, sources of tinder like dry leaves, grass and twigs, and some water. Make sure the sun is out too, as it will act as the friction source.
First, find a rough-edged rock and grind the dry piece of wood or tree bark into a coarse dust. This will be used to strike a spark. Next, combine the wood dusting with the dry twigs, coconut husks, grass, and leaves collected.
Fill the plastic bag with water and build a makeshift fire pit right where the sun’s glare hits the ground. Pile the kindling in the firepit and place the plastic bag containing the water over it.
Just like a magnifying glass, the water inside the plastic bag will reflect the sun’s glare onto the wooden pile and start an ember that can easily be turned into a flame using wooden logs and tree branches.
Step-by-Step: How to Make a Fire in the Wild With Nothing
Starting a fire in the wilderness isn’t as hard as it looks. In fact, all it takes is a good ignition source and a striking firestarter to create a long-lasting flame.
Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to start a fire in the wild with nothing but the essentials available:
- First, find sources to ignite the spark. If you have a tinder kit or a flint and steel kit available, all you need to do is follow the instructions given on it, and you’ll have a flame. If that isn’t available, look for dry and lightweight sticks of the same tree, sources of tinder like fibrous bark, coconut husks, etc. Even a plastic bag or cotton balls soaked in vaseline will work.
- Second, take some time and look for the fuel of the fire. If you want a short-term solution, pile up on tinder from tree bark. For a long-term solution, look for dry firewood.
- Next, create a firepit and burn the sources of tinder, starting with the smallest pieces first and then leveling up to sturdier pieces to keep the fire stable.
- Make sure to keep some space between the logs so oxygen can flow freely. Overcrowding can extinguish the flame.
FAQs About Building Fires in the Wild
What is the easiest way to start a fire with nothing?
One of the most recommended ways to start a fire if there are no matches, lighters, or papers on hand is to use flint and steel. They are convenient (kits available on the market), inexpensive, and compact in size (easily portable).
What is a safe way to build a fire in the wilderness?
The safest way to build a fire is to start with different sizes of wood, no thinner than your little finger and no bigger than the wrist. First throw in the sticks and tree branches, then gradually add in bigger logs. Make sure to have enough space, as overcrowding can extinguish the fire.
Can you burn wood that’s been rained on?
No. Wood is highly absorbent, and when it is exposed to heavy rain, hail, or long periods of snow, it will rot faster than it can be used, which is why it won’t be useful when building a fire.
Preparing for disasters is the #1 tip given to campers, hikers, and mountaineers because Mother Nature is absolutely unpredictable and there’s no telling what will happen and when.
So, it’s best to stock up on survival tips of all kinds. Now that you’ve gone through this guide, come rain or hail, you’ll know all the ways how to make a fire in the wild with nothing.