Fire Starting Methods: Pros and Cons

Fire Starting Methods: Pros and Cons

Pros and Cons


If you need rapid heat and a quick fire, matches are a good option. They produce a hot flame, burn for long enough to light most tinder, and are lightweight.

However, matches run out — in a long term survival situation, you may use up all your matches. They also need to be kept dry.


For speed and ease of use, the lighter is king. Lighters burn even hotter and longer than matches, making them ideal for situations when your tinder may be slightly damp. However, lighters can also run out of fuel and don’t work when they get wet.

Fire Steel / Striker

In a long term survival situation, the best balance between convenience and lifespan may be a fire steel. These small, extremely lightweight devices create a very hot spark using magnesium, and they can be used thousands of times before wearing out.

Bow Drill

If you’re stuck in a survival situation with almost no supplies, one of the best fire-starting methods is the bow drill, which uses friction to start fire. This is a complex, physically demanding method, but it’s worth learning how to construct and use a bow drill set; they can be made using all-natural materials.

Hand Drill / Fire Plow

There are other methods of starting a fire with all-natural materials. One of the best is the hand drill method, which simply uses a long, thin stick and a wooden baseboard with a notch in it.

To make fire, take the stick in your hands, and begin to spin it as rapidly as you can, applying downwards pressure as you rub your palms together to spin the stick. This method requires practice as well; trying it in a survival situation without knowing what you are doing may just be a waste of energy.

Another variation on this method is the fire plow. The fire plow uses an upright stick and a baseboard as well, but the upright is used diagonally, and is rubbed rapidly and repeatedly along a groove in the baseboard to create a fire.

Both of these methods are even simpler than a bow drill, and require no unnatural materials — but they do require a great deal of skill. All friction fire methods also require the use of certain wood species.

Other Methods

Of course, there are plenty of other fire-starting methods. For example, you can concentrate sunlight using a magnifying glass or glass elements extracted from a camera lens. This method can be pretty reliable in hot, sunny climate.

Another way to start a fire uses a battery and any thin piece of wire, such as a paperclip — or better yet, a portion of steel wool. Simply take the battery (a 9V works best) and attach the positive and negative ends using the steel wool, which should get hot and then ignite.

Fire Starting Methods: Pros and Cons
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Dan Stevenson

Dan Stevenson is a chief editor of The Survival Corps and an experienced survivalist who is incredibly passionate about everything survival and preparedness, be it in the great outdoors or in an urban environment.

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Being a survival expert for a very long time, Dan has acquired extensive knowledge and experience regarding preparing for camping trips, hiking, hunting and any other outdoor adventure and surviving in the wilderness. He also knows quite a lot about preparing for emergency situations in the concrete jungle when one would need either self-defense or other survival skills in various cases of crisis, such as a natural disaster.

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