How to Light a Fire in Any Environment

There are a lot of tutorials out there on how to light a fire. However, many of them don’t take into account the area or climate that you’ll be in. Starting a fire in an emergency isn’t always going to be convenient and you might not find the best tools if you haven’t prepared. So, we wanted to write about how you could start a fire in any climate!

light a fire in any environmentFire Essentials
Every fire needs three basic things:

1. Tinder - dry material that ignites with little heat. Must be dry.
2. Kindling - a readily combustible material that you add after you start the tinder.
3. Fuel - not necessarily gas. Fuel, in this case, is something that burns slowly like a log.

Jungle or Humid Environment
The thing you’ll want to remember with starting a fire is to keep it dry. You might have a hard time finding tinder that is dry enough to start a fire. If the kindle is too wet then you’ll just have smoke instead of a fire.

Myke Hawke, from Discovery Channel’s “Man, Woman, Wild” offers some pointers on creating a fire in the jungle.

1. Lay some broad leaves on the ground to keep the ground moisture from ruining everything
2. Scrape the bark off of a stick or bamboo and use the shavings as tinder.
3. Use a lighter to spark the tinder. (Even experts have a hard time lighting a fire in the jungle.)
4. Add small twigs and logs to grow the fire.

If you don’t have a lighter, consider creating a fire-plow. You can create a fire-plow by rubbing a hardwood shaft against a softer wood base. This will cause enough friction for a fire. Take a straight groove and cut it in the base, then plow the blunt tip of the shaft up and down the groove. Small particles of wood fibers will be pushed out and will eventually catch fire. (Instructions courtesy of Environmental Graffiti.)

Check out this video of a guy showing how to start a fire using only a knife and bamboo.

Icy Conditions
With so many fun winter activities, like skiing, tubing, snowball fights; it’s possible that you might get caught in low temperatures. However, there are also ways that you can start a fire with ice, believe it or not!

This video demonstrates how you can create fire by creating a clear piece of ice into a magnifying glass that sparks the tinder.

There are also certain types of knives that are made of firesteel. They can be used to cut tinder and then light it. For an example, we found this blog post about a boy who made a fire with a knife.

If you’re trapped in your home without a lighter or matches, there are plenty of ways to start a fire. You can use a steel wool, crystal, a battery or other materials to create that spark. Check out some of the videos to see how:

With a 9v Battery

With Crystal

With Magnesium

With Eye Glasses

Then again, you could always just go the route of purchasing a fire starter, matches, stove or something simple. Check out our Emergency Warmth and Shelter supplies.

7 thoughts on “How to Light a Fire in Any Environment”

  • SLHaynes

    Great article. Sooner or later, in any survival situation, you will need fire for something. Whether it be to cook some less than palatable critter, sterilize some drinking water or just for warmth, you'll need fire.

  • Kevin Hines

    Knew most of the ways, but the ice fire starter was really cool, no pun intended. Really enjoy the tips from the ReadyStore

  • Buck

    I have my wife put all the lint she removes from the dryer in a ziploc baggy and seal it . It is extremely compressible so a baggy can hold enough for dozens of fire starts and it is VERY effective . I never go into the woods without my lint bag .

  • Ken

    I live in remote Alaska and never leave home with out my fire strike and cotton balls soaked with melted down vasaline wrapped in tin foil.. They burn for a long time and are Gerry small and portable and take a spark berry a survivalist I know all to well fire is life up here..

  • SSG Steven I Szabo
    SSG Steven I Szabo February 28, 2012 at 1:10 pm

    One of the best things to do is to have one of each. Ferro rod, magnesium, lighter, lens, knife (or several knives). Always remember that in a life on the line situation, 2 is one, one is none. Redundancy in your methods will keep you viable. ALSO, knowledge weighs nothing and depending on location, LEARN what the best resources are for the area you live in or will go to. Finally, learn the non-traditional methods as well, the ones that utilize what you have on you like a cell phone, flashlight, or coke can. Garbage, or every day items that might be useless for their intended purpose, broken, or just simply "garbage" can save your life. Expand your mind; save your life. Prepare or die.

  • Greg

    Great article, I'd like to add to make sure you gather enough kindling, tinder and fuel to establish the fire before starting it. That way in the crucial part of establishing the fire you don't have to leave it unattended to search for more tinder. A scoutmaster once told me 2 hatfuls of kindling and 2 hatfuls of tinder.

  • Northwoods Cheryl
    Northwoods Cheryl January 8, 2014 at 1:49 am

    One thing to remember.. if you use up all the fuel in a lighter, such as a standard "BIC", it STILL makes SPARKS. The flints always outlast the fuel. Hang onto the lighter just for the sparking capabilities. A Magnesium block, a knife to shave it off and a striker/flint rod are the best way if your tinder isn't so dry. The magnesium burns white hot till it consumes itself and will therefore ignite even the most stubborn- aka "damp" -tinder. Always a good thing to have on your person.

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