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Basic Fire Making

Basic Fire Making

I have spent many a night out in the Colorado wild, many of them with no shelter other than a sleeping bag or sometimes just a coat, but all of them I have had a fire to keep me through the long cold nights.

Dogs aside, I say fire is man’s best friend, and learning to consistently make one is probably the most important survival skill. Not only will it keep you warm at night, but it will cook your food, purify your water, signal for help, keep predators at bay and in many ways be a friend and cheer you by staring into the dancing flames.

There are several ways to end up with fire, I suggest you practice all of them since you never know when you will have to fall back on one of the harder ways to get a fire going, and that will not be the time to be learning how to do it.

The Basics

Before you start make sure to have gathered a supply of the driest tinder and kindling possible. Then make sure you have a supply of wood available so your kindling doesn’t burn up while you are gathering wood.


Flame is by far the easiest way to get a fire going. I always have a lighter in my pocket even though I don’t smoke. Matches, lighters, lifeboat matches, butane torches all make for easy fire starting. The number one sure-fire fire starter IMHO is the road flare. I have started soaking wet wood into a raging fire with a road flare.


Flint and steel struck into char-cloth is what most of the mountain men used to start their fires. You can use a kit or the back of your carbon knife (stainless won’t work). You sometimes can find two rocks that will throw a spark when struck together, but it is difficult.

You can create a spark with wires and a battery if you are stranded with your car. Or even a 9V with steel wool will get a fire going.


Much of the fire making videos online will focus on friction fire making. Dry components are key no matter which method you use.

The hand drill, bow drill, fire thong and fire plow all use the same pile of hot dust to create an ember that you blow into life in a nest of dry tinder.


There is another device called a fire piston that takes a piece of tinder and puts it in a chamber where the pressure is raised rapidly to ignite it. This works on the same principle as a diesel engine.

All in all there are many ways to get your fire going. The more ways you have mastered, the better your odds of getting fire when you really need it.


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