Posts tagged: how to make fire

7 Ways To Make Fire Without A Spark

permanganate glycerin

They say you can’t make a fire without a spark, but any true survivalist knows that when the SHTF you have to forget about folklore sayings and push the boundaries to do everything in your power to survive. And you also know that in critical situations, human beings are capable of extreme adaptability.

Though the title may seem counter-intuitive, science backs you up when you’re in the wild and have no lighter or match about you. I’m not going to go into the importance of fire in our lives – all the more in the wild – 1.9 million years of using fire speak for themselves, so here are a few clever methods to light a fire without a spark, which is possible – if you know how.

Magnifying Glass

You probably saw this in cartoons as a method for killing ants, but that doesn’t mean it’s a myth. The magnifying glass doesn’t only amplify sight, but heat as well, when on a clear sky. It’s as easy as focusing the sunlight through the lens upon the object you want to be ignited, such as a piece of paper or straws. You don’t have to carry a magnifying glass in your bug-out bag specifically for this situation, a pair of glasses will work just as well, or, if you have binoculars, you can use one of the lenses. To enhance the effect you can add water on the lens.

1.1 Turning condoms and balloons into magnifying glasses

Condoms for fireIf you don’t have any type of lens with you, a balloon or a condom can help you. Simply fill them with water and put them over the material you want to ignite. The trick is to have them inflated as round as possible, and not too big, otherwise, refraction will distort the focal point.

1.2 Start a fire with ice

Fire from ICE A piece of ice can also act as a magnifying glass, but you need the ice piece to be in certain conditions. Think of an ice cube as the ideal magnifying glass. The good part is that you can shape the ice however you want, and what you want is to model it into the shape of a lens. If it’s not transparent, melt it and model it in your hands until it becomes so.


Kinetic energy translates into heat, and the most primal way to obtain heat from kinetic energy is to create friction between two objects. The easiest way is to use wood, as it has an adherent surface, making it easy to have friction from it, and it also ignites easily. Things you need:

• Stick – about two inches thick and 2-3 feet long; we will call this the spindle;

A notch – worst case scenario you can have one made in the ground, but it’s preferable to have it made into the wood as well, or to find a hew log;


There are several methods to obtain fire with friction and the above materials.

2.1 Using a hand drill

By handThe hand drill method is probably known to any boy scout, but it does require patience and a certain amount of force to be successful. It’s among the most primitive ways to make a fire and it requires you to roll the spindle back and forth with your palms. If you spin fast and for enough time, the heat created by the friction between the bottom of the spindle and the straws will eventually light them up. You will first be noticing the smell of burnt wood, then you will see smoke coming out of the straws: this means you are on the right track. Do not stop, or you will have to start over.

2.2 Using a belt drill

Belt drill Everything is identical to the method above, except instead of spinning the spindle with your palms, you simply use a belt: grab the belt with your hands from the ends, and put the spindle against the middle of the belt, with the spindle on the interior (towards you), like reins on a horse. This way you can pull each end of the belt alternately, with better grip and more force, but you need another person to press upon the spindle and keep in place. Though the belt is the only extra detail, it can make all the difference in the world, especially for someone who doesn’t have that much force.

2.3 Using a bow drill

Bow drillSimilar to the belt method, this also uses a third object in order to create friction, and this method is the easiest. Even a child could make a fire using a bow drill, and bows are also a child’s play to make: just use any flexible stick and tie a string at each end of it. The bowstring can be either rope, shoelace, or even a strip of cloth. Maintaining the speed and force is mostly assured by the bow itself. This method also uses a socket of sorts, to maintain pressure from above upon the spindle (in place of the second person). You only need one hand for the bow, so with the second one, you maintain the pressure. Any hollow piece of wood can act as a socket, but anything can work, such as an empty baseball or a baseball glove (baseball bat can make a great spindle too, in case you carry one in your bug-out luggage for self-defense), and virtually any hollow item made of plastic or rubber. Wood sap or oil can be used as a great lubricant for the socket.

Turning Soda Cans Into Concave Mirrors

Soda cans for Fire You can start a fire with a concave mirror by reflecting off the sun rays into the area you want to burn. A very effective concave mirror can be made using the bottom of a soda or beer can, which is always concave. Simply apply toothpaste or chocolate all over the bottom (just take a chocolate bar and simply smear it all over). Let it dry, and you will essentially have a mirror, which can be used to redirect the sun’s rays into your notch.

Potassium Permanganate And Glycerin

Potassium Permanganate and Glycerin Potassium Permanganate can be found at any hardware store, as it’s used for many things, from antiseptic to fungus killer. Not many know, however, that in reaction with glycerin, it simply ignites. All you have to do is wrap some permanganate into a napkin or cloth, add a few glycerin drops over it, wrap it all up quickly, and simply wait. In about 30 seconds it will start fumigating, and eventually, it will ignite. The chemical reaction requires heat to start, and it will only work at normal room temperature.

Before being forced to do this in the wild, be sure to try this at home first, but within the safety limits. If you know more methods of lighting up a fire without sparks, please let us know in the section below. Your input will be greatly appreciated!

By Alec Deacon

How To Make A Dakota Fire Hole

How To Make A Dakota Fire Hole
How To Make A Dakota Fire Hole. Photo – Wikipedia (PD)

For a true survivalist, preparing never stops. Always prepping, always researching for new survival techniques… this is part of my daily life. And while doing so, I realized I documented a lot on how to build a fire in the wilderness, how to start a fire without matches and other interesting things on the subject… but I only came across the Dakota fire hole just recently.

I found out about it from a fellow survivalist colleague at and then read more on the Internet and also watched some videos on how to make a Dakota fire hole. I just have to share it with you, too.

What is it exactly?

A Dakota fire hole – also known as a Dakota smokeless fire pit – is a simple fire building method, a tactic used by the Marine Corps, camping and scouting experts because of its many advantages. Some consider it an obscure fire building tradition of the Native Americans, but it’s really a very valuable wilderness survival aid that should get more attention.

There are several types of fire holes you can assemble in a variety of styles and functions, according to your wishes and needs. You can even purchase pre-made fire pits from the store these days.

How to make a Dakota fire hole?

This is how you make one in 3 easy steps:

Dig 2 holes in the ground –about 9 inches away from each other, about 12 inches in diameter and approximately 12 inches down.

Connect the holes to make an airway tunnel, in the shape of the letter “U”.

Light a fire (just like a regular campfire) at the original bottom of the tunnel.

Congratulations, you have your own Dakota fire hole!

Now let me elaborate a little on the matter:

First of all, this is how a Dakota fire hole looks like in real life (thank you for the image). If your final results resemble this image, then you got it right.

Dakota fire hole

And here are some drawn indications on how to build one from

How to build a Dakota fire hole

What tools do you need?

A small hand trowel or an army folding shovel is needed for digging the holes. You should have these in your BOB but if you find yourself in a situation where you have no tools at hand, a strong stick you find in the woods will work, too. By all means, if you have to, use your bare hands to dig.

You’ll also need a lighter or matches to start the fire (these are also essential items from your survival kit, so you should have no problem here). But in case you don’t have anything to light a fire with, read all about how to start a fire without matches.

Other tips:

• Avoid rocky, rooted and sandy grounds because you won’t be able to dig the correct shape for the Dakota fire hole

• Dig the first hole larger than the second one and extend its base to use it as the fire pit chamber and to provide room for firewood of all lengths

• The airflow tunnel should be positioned upwind from the fire pit chamber

• Build it near the base of a tree to help diffuse the smoke


You use less wood, but get more warmth and hotter fires (its structure combats heat loss); this is also great if you camp or need to stay in an area where not much firewood is available.

Very convenient for cooking – it’s designed as a platform with the fire below the surface so it easily supports cookware; also, water and food cooks faster.

Very manageable if it’s windy outside

Of great aid in a hostile situation – the fire throws less light and creates less smoke so it is harder to be detected by enemies, especially at night; you’ll sure want less visibility in case of an invasion.

I loved this simple method of lighting a long-lasting, strong fire in the middle of nowhere and I can’t wait to try it next time I go camping with my family. In the meanwhile, if some of you have tried to make a Dakota pit, share your ideas and tricks with us. We’d love to hear your opinions and experiences.