Need fire? No matches? No problem.

One of the best things about camping is sitting around the campfire. But, what happens if the matches got wet or the lighter forgotten. Don’t despair, with a little know-how, and a bit of perseverance you can still enjoy a healthy blaze.

First of all, gather up a supply of dry materials. You will need some fine tinder of something that will catch alight easily, some kindling of twigs or dry wood chips to sustain the flame, and some larger sticks to keep your fire going.

Then consider what options you have available to you to get that vital spark.

Start a fire using the sun

If there is strong sunlight one of the easiest ways to start a fire is using a lens to focus the sun’s rays onto one spot of tinder until it heats up enough to ignite. You can use a magnifying glass, a spectacle lens, the reflector out of your flashlight, or the bottom of a soda can polished up with a bit of toothpaste, to act as the lens. Even a clear plastic bottle with water in can do the job, and this is how many forest fires start.

Start a fire using electricity

If you have a bit of steel wool available remove the battery from your flashlight and rub the terminals brisky with the steel wool until it smoulders. Your cell phone battery can also do the trick. No steel wool? How about a gum wrapper or the silver paper from a cigarette packet? Fold the silver paper so that you can touch both ends of an AA battery, the short circuit will ignite the paper in the centre and just let it drop onto your waiting kindling.

Start a fire using a flint

A flint and steel set is a must in any survival kit but you can improvise. Find some gray flintstones, or a quartz and strike them against a  metal object to create sparks.

Start a fire using wood

If you have no aids available, then it’s back to basics. Cut a notch into a sturdy piece of wood. Bend a strong stick to make a bow and tie it with a bit of string. Loop the string once around a straight spindle stick and place the tip into the notch. The bow allows you to use just one hand to turn the stick within the notch, so with your free hand apply pressure to the top of the spindle stick with a rock. This increases the friction created, which will generate enough heat to start smoking, and finally to form small embers. Add tiny pieces of kindling and blow to encourage the flame to catch.

A fire plough is another more effective version of this same method. Make a groove in the fireboard and move the spindle stick up and down the length. If you sit with the board inclined and a small pile of tinder at the far end of the groove you upper body force can get enough friction to get a fire going quite quickly.

Remember, the ability to make a fire could even save your life.

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