17 Ways to Start a Fire

There are more than a hundred different ways to start a fire, but we’ve narrowed it down for you. Here is the ultimate list of 17 simple and easy fire-starting methods – some will work better depending on what type of materials you have available.

  1. Gather tinder, kindling, and fuel.
  2. Create a small pile of tinder in the center of your fire pit (a hole in the ground) or on top of your grill grate if you’re using an outdoor grill.
  3. Add kindling to the tinder – sticks that are about as long as your arm and thin enough to fit through the gaps between logs in a traditional fireplace grate (or metal bars).
  4. Place one-third of your stack’s worth of fuel wood at one end of your fire pit/grill grate and light it with matches or lighter fluid soaked rags before adding more layers until you’ve built up a substantial structure that will keep burning for longer than a few minutes.Fire Pit

1. Tinder

Tinder is a flammable material that will burn at 800 degrees Fahrenheit. Tinder’s core components are derived from plant fibers which ignite easily. You can use any type of tinder, even dried grass. The best types of tinder to utilize when building your fire include dryer lint and finely shaved wood shavings.

If you are not using tinder, it is possible to start a fire by focusing sunlight onto dry vegetation. You can use the glass from sunglasses or magnifying glasses for this process because they have flat bottoms that create better contact with the sun’s rays. This will take some time but can prove rewarding if your first attempt is successful.

2. Kindling

To get a fire going, you’ll need some kindling. It won’t take much to start it burning—in fact, very fine material will do the trick! Try using dry grasses or dried leaves if you have them on hand. If not, try crumpled up paper from your recycling bin at home.

If you’re at the campsite, try pulling apart some dead branches that fell on your last hike. You can even use toothpicks or craft sticks to start a fire!

Remember, you don’t need a lot of kindling to get the fire going. A few sticks and twigs will be enough!

3. Lighter or matches

There are many different ways to start a fire. However, most of them require preparation or gear that you might not have on hand when you really need it (like kindling) and they may also be difficult to light (such as using wet wood). So what do you do if your matches got soaked? Or maybe how about the next time you find yourself in a survival situation and don’t have matches?

A lighter is an effective, simple way to start a fire. They come with different features such as waterproofing or windproofness so it can be helpful if you know which one will work best for your needs. Of course, sometimes they break or run out of fuel and you could be in a situation where it’s hard to find another one.

Another common way to start fires is with flint and steel or magnesium but both take practice and good technique so that the sparks land in your tinder bundle correctly. If using this method, make sure everything around you can burn because once you have your tinder bundle lit, you’ll want to keep the fire going.

If all else fails and you can find a large enough stick or branch, it is possible to start a fire by rubbing two sticks together but be aware that this method takes time and practice so don’t try it for the first time when you’re in a survival situation.

In an emergency, you can also use the battery from a car or flashlight to start a fire by creating sparks with steel wool and then touching it to your tinder bundle. The longer end of the wire must be attached to one side of the battery while the other should touch some part of your car that is grounded.

4. Newspaper

Start by gathering your wood and tinder. Lay two sheets of newspaper on top of each other, then fold them in half lengthwise. Place the folded paper under a loose pile of kindling (wood about as big around as your thumb) at least three inches high, with some space below that for air to circulate between it and the paper. Fold another two sheets of newspaper in the same way, and place it on top of this kindling stack. Light all sides at once with a match or lighter so that they catch fire evenly.

5. Dried leaves and grasses

Start by gathering a good handful of leaves and grasses. Make sure they are completely dry.

Then place them in a small stack, bunching the blades together but being careful not to crush or mash them down. This will help keep your tinder bundle hot longer once you light it up.

Next, lay two sticks parallel on either side of the tinder pile and wrap string around both sticks and the tinder.

The sticks will help keep your pile together as you move it around. When gathering, make sure to gather a larger bundle than what you think you’ll need (about arm-sized). This way if some of the leaves fall out or burn up, there is still plenty left for heating and cooking food.

Now, gather some kindling. You’ll want pencil-sized sticks that are dry and dead (but not rotten). If it bends easily, don’t use it! Find about four to six pieces of kindling. Lay your tinder bundle on the ground with the larger end away from you. Arrange one piece of kindling on either side, leaning them against the sticks. Continue building your pile by alternating between larger and smaller pieces of wood until you have a small teepee-like structure with one open end.

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6. Pine cones

Place pine cones in a small paper bag and fold down the top (keep it loose). Poke holes in the side of the bag. Place inside another, larger paper or plastic bag with an open zip-lock on one end. Pour sugar over everything and add some water to make wet sand consistency. Zip up the other end and close securely. Put the bag in a cool dry place for four to six weeks.

Create tinder by shredding both paper bags into small pieces and placing them inside your kindling/dryer lint mix. Make sure that you have some long-burning firewood ready, as it may take up to 24 hours before these cones will burst into flames.

Other ways to start a fire with pine cones: place inside an aluminum can, wrap in heavy-duty aluminum foil and light up. Or you can use them as kindling under your campfire or grill grate.

Remember that the fresher they are, the better they will burn so try collecting fresh ones yourself during the first weekend of autumn.

If you want to learn more about outdoor fire-building, be sure to check out the next steps below this post!

7. Wine Cork Fire Starters

If you like to drink wine and want a easy fire starter, this is it. Wine corks smell great when they burn and put off good heat as well. If the cork isn’t completely burned up before your kindling catches on fire, just use them for starting another fire in the future!

For those of you who love to grill, this is a great way to use up leftover charcoal and lighter fluid. It takes only about three minutes for the coals on top of your barbecue grate to become red hot; once they do, gather them into a pile and place your kindling over them (or around them if it’s a small fire). Once the kindling is burning, add your logs and enjoy!

This one takes time to master but will pay off in dividends when you get good at it. First, find some large chunks of old oak or other hardwood that has already been seasoned (dried out) for about six months. Cut them into four-inch pieces and split them open with a sharp hatchet or knife. You can use just about anything to start this fire: paper, leaves, cardboard – even dryer lint!Fire Pit

For those of you who want an eco-friendly method for starting your fires, here is one that will work well on wet days when it’s hard to keep the fire going. First, find deadfall branches that are still green and cut them into pieces about four inches long. Then strip all of the bark off (this will produce more smoke than burning it) and chop them up in your fireplace or campfire pit until they look like kindling wood. This method works best when there is a lot of green wood around, so be sure to have lots on hand.

8. Dryer Lint

Dryer lint is one of the easiest and most common ways to start a fire in an emergency. It catches alight quickly, burns for around five minutes and emits plenty of heat — perfect for getting attention when you’re cold or cooking food over your makeshift campfire.

9. Magnifying Glass

Using a magnifying glass focuses the sun’s rays into one area, which can ignite any flammable material. This is often used to start campfires by focusing light on dry tinder until it ignites.

This is a bad way to start fires because it’s not very practical in the real world. It takes too much time and energy for this method to be effective, but there are ways you can make it work for you!

10. Hand Sanitizer

Hand sanitizer can be used to start a fire. All it takes is some cotton balls and the gel from inside of the bottle, but only if you know how to do this safely. The alcohol in hand sanitizer will burn hot enough to light your tinder on fire if done correctly, but don’t try this if you don’t know what you are doing.

Do not use hand sanitizer if it contains aloe or moisturizer as this will put out the flame when used to start a fire! Just keep in mind that once your tinder is lit, be sure to allow it plenty of time to burn before blowing on the embers to keep the fire going.

11. Tampon/Cotton Balls

Cotton balls are great for starting fires, especially if you have the means to light them. A cotton ball will burn long enough with a lighter or match that it can start most anything else without being threatening. However, tampons are even better for this because they’re made of natural fibers and soak up all the available oxygen around them in a way that makes them burn even longer.

Don’t Forget: The cotton balls will start to wear out after about ten seconds, but the tampons should keep going for at least thirty before becoming too wet and smoldering to use effectively.

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12. 100-Proof Whiskey

100-proof whiskey is also known as “bonded” or “bottled in bond.” This term refers to a specific aging process that was introduced by the Bottled-in-Bond Act of 1897, which ensures that certain standards are met for production and labeling. For 100 proof whiskey to be considered as such, the spirit must be distilled to no more than 125 proof and then placed in a federally bonded warehouse under U.S. government supervision for at least four years (and up to 50 years). During this time period it is bottled and sold with specific labeling requirements that indicate age, percentage of ABV by volume, distillation location through state or county, and bottling location.

13. Dried Kindling/Tinder

When packing emergency supplies, it’s important to consider all possible scenarios. You never know when you might find yourself in a situation where starting a fire isn’t as easy as using your lighter or matches. It helps to assess the materials at hand and look for what would work best under those conditions – like kindling! This type of tinder is a great way to get your fire going, especially if you have limited options.

  • Lightweight and small in size
  • Wet materials can be dried out before starting fire
  • Small enough to fit under most pots or pans for cooking over an open flame -Can burn up quickly so needs constant replacement
  • Requires more material than other tinders, like lint or cotton balls
  • Can be tough to light with wind kicking up ashes and dust
  • Dry pine needles, twigs or leaves
  • Cotton balls covered in Vaseline (petroleum jelly) -Easy to find on the ground.

14. Flint and Steel

The most basic way to start a fire is with flint and steel, or their modern equivalent. The spark created by striking the two together is hot enough to light tinder on its own, but you can also place very fine steel wool in between them for an even more intense burst of sparks. A ferro rod works well for this, but you could also use a regular lighter.

One thing to remember with flint and steel is that they require good dry tinder in order for it to work. If your material looks wet or damp at all when you try to light it, the sparks won’t make enough heat before it goes out again; if there’s enough heat to ignite the material, it’ll probably go up in flames all at once and burn out before you can get a fire going.

The entire process is very quick—less than five seconds from flint strike to prepared tinder catching flame—and should result in an easy-to-light pile of embers. The best way to use it is by adding dry, small twigs on top of the embers in order to get a bigger flame.

The good thing about flint and steel is that you can always find some material with sharp edges around where you are (a piece of sandstone works well). It’s also nearly impossible for them to break or get damaged and render them useless.

The downside is that they require good, dry tinder in order for it to work; if your material looks wet or damp at all when you try to light it, the sparks won’t make enough heat before it goes out again. It’s also the slowest method of starting a fire, since you have to spend extra time striking the flint and steel against each other.

Another thing is that it’s difficult to do when your hands are cold or wet—it takes both hands to pull off properly, so if they’re not dry enough it can be hard to hold onto the tools in order to start the fire.

15. Cardboard

Take a piece of cardboard and crumple it into a ball. Then take your newspaper (shredded or not) and place the wad in the middle of the cardboard. Place kindling on top as shown above, then use matches to light it!

16. Commercial Fire Starter

Commercial fire starters are great for anyone who needs to start a large campfire, bonfire or even home fireplace. A commercial fire starter allows you to create instant flames so that your larger fire-building project can begin right away! There are many different types of commercial options out there but one popular option is the EverStryke Match.

This is a reusable metal match that can be used over and over again. It’s weatherproof, windproof, virtually unbreakable and works even when wet! You just need to scrape the fire starter against the sandpaper-like surface on one side of its case. The resulting sparks will start your desired campfire or fireplace immediately so that you can get cooking!Fire Pit

17. Potato Chip Fire

This fire is achieved using two pieces of tinfoil, a potato chip bag, and either twigs or paper. The first step involves laying the chips out flat on the foil. Next you take your kindling (twigs or dryer lint), put them in between the chips creating an open sandwich effect, then fold up all four sides of the tinfoil to create a closed pouch.

Lastly, use either your hands or pliers from the multi-tool you chose as items #11 and 12 above, grip down on each side of the chip bag between all four corners where it’s open then pull apart quickly creating an opening for oxygen flow – this will allow you to light your fire.

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Environmental Protection

The best way to minimize your impact on the environment is by choosing a product that minimizes its environmental footprint during production, use and disposal.

One of the best ways to protect the environment is by choosing products that use recycled content.

Another way to cut down your environmental footprint is by choosing a product with good recyclability.

Also, look for alternative energy sources like solar or wind power in order to minimize your carbon footprint and help save our planet’s natural resources.

Safety Tips

  • Never carry a lighter in your pocket with keys or change. If this happens, the lighter will turn on by itself once you sit down and release pressure from it being bent.
  • If possible, have more than one way to start a fire at all times – especially if camping for an extended period of time without access to stores.
  • Keep your lighter in an easy to access place, however not where it can fall out of reach. This is especially important if you are driving or sitting on a chair that reclines. If the lighter falls into somewhere unreachable, it will turn off by itself and become unusable until retrieved again.
  • When camping with children, teach them how to safely handle a lighter.
  • There are many different types of lighters on the market, so be sure you know where your fire starter is before it becomes dark and cold. In addition, make sure that any child or companion with you knows exactly where it is as well in case they need to find one themselves for help.
  • Also, try to avoid having children play with the lighter as it can be easy for them to lose track of where they put it and forget that there is a fire starter in their pocket or backpack.


What should I use to start a fire?

A variety of things can be used, but you need three types: kindling, fuel and heat. Kindling is anything that will ignite with low heat such as wood shavings or dryer lint. Fuel provides the bulk of energy for your blaze and could include twigs, dry leaves or small pieces of wood. Heat is anything that can produce a spark like steel wool and batteries (see below).

How do I start with wet kindling?

If you are starting your fire with damp kindling, it’s best to build the base of your fire on top of some rocks so the heat of the fire will help dry out your kindling.

How do I start a fire if it’s windy?

Wind actually helps fires burn because it gives them oxygen, so be sure to build your tinder nest upwind and place larger pieces of fuel downwind. If you are using matches or lighters, it’s best to light your tinder before the wind picks up.

How should I lay my fire?

Laying fires is an art form and there are many different styles depending on what you are planning on cooking or burning. The simplest method is laying logs parallel across each other with one space in between so air can get in. Leave a space at the bottom so you have room to place your tinder and kindling.

What if my fire won’t light?

If it seems like everything is going wrong, stop what you are doing and start over again from scratch. Make sure that matches or lighters are dry, you have enough heat and fuel, your tinder is dry and you are using the right method. If everything seems perfect but it still won’t light, try a different spot or time of day when there might be more oxygen available.

What if my fire keeps going out?

If you can get your kindling to light but it won’t stay lit, you are probably not giving your fire enough fuel. Add more tinder and kindling to the base of your fire every time it goes out until they burn completely during a single burn cycle.

What if my fire keeps burning too fast?

If your kindling is catching on quickly and burning up too fast, you are probably giving your fire too much fuel. Remove some of the larger pieces and only add more as it burns down to kindling size.

What if my fire keeps burning super hot?

If your kindling is catching on quickly but then doesn’t seem like there is enough oxygen for it to burn, you are probably using too much tinder. Try removing some of it and adding more kindling.

What if my fire won’t start even though I did everything right?

If your fuel is dry but it still won’t light, try looking for areas with less wind or building your fires under an overhang of rock or tree where the wind won’t be as strong. If you are using matches, make sure they aren’t wet and try again.


In conclusion, there are many different ways to start a fire. However, this guide is about the best and most efficient way that people have used throughout time to get quick results with minimal effort. So now you should be able to go out into the wilderness without needing matches or a lighter on hand. By following these steps mentioned above, you will be able to start a fire with nearly anything.