How To Start A Fire With Sticks

How to start a fire with sticks? OK so you are in the middle of the jungle and forgot to bring matches or a lighter. Somehow, oddly, there is WIFI (where isn’t there nowadays?) and you manage to stumble across this article. You’re clearly going to need to also take our guide on how to start an email, as communication is most civilised people’s first method of survival

Indeed, your survival instincts are put to the test. How to Start a Fire with Sticks resonates in your mind and as per usual the universe conspires to give you what you need. Being able to start a fire isn’t just important for keeping you warm, it can also make for a source of clean water, and help you avoid food poisoning when cooking those defrosting chicken breasts you brought with you too.

What is THE best method to make fire with sticks?

How To Start A Fire With Sticks
How To Start A Fire With Sticks

Here are 3 simple techniques that have been used for millennia for how to start a fire with sticks:

  • The Hand Drill (Drill not Job)
  • The Bow Drill (nothing to do with Robin Hood)
  • The Fire Plow (adding innuendo to anything is easy)

There is a 98.37 % chance that you will give up on how to start a fire with sticks and try to find a conventional lighter or matches.

Nevertheless, with practice you may master the technique on how to start a fire with sticks. When you’ve survived this ordeal, you’re basically King (Or Queen) of you’re own domain. You’re probably do well to read this next:

Step A – Start Drilling! (Again, no comment)

Carve a small hole in the fireboard.

When you push down on the drill if should be difficult to turn it. You should feel strong friction.

Bowdrill Technique

Put some downward pressure on the socket and start to pull back and forth on the bow. It’s a delicate balance between putting too much and not enough pressure on the drill, and having the bow string too tight and not tight enough.

Saw back and forth with the bow faster and faster, and put more and more pressure on the socket.

Eventually, you’ll get some black powder and smoke around the bottom of the drill. This is a good sign! Stop and pick up the fire board.

If you are not using a bow, you can do this by using your hands to turn the drill and create the friction in the same way that the bow does. Place the drill between your hands and run your hands backward and forwards to spin it.

How to start a Fire with Sticks quick

Ensure that you are keeping downwards and inwards pressure on the drill all the time.

You will find that this leads to your hands moving down the drill as you go. It’s important to keep it turning, so when your hands are near the board move them back up to the top of the drill quickly.

Keep going until you see smoke. This can be a long and hard (!) process, so have patience and stick with it.

Expert Trick: Wear gloves.

Said: Anybody who tried this

If you will be using the plowing technique (my my), you will be rubbing the Drill back and forth into the Fireboard.

Plowing Technique Fire Plow

The notch and the drill end that goes into it should both be rough, not shiny and smooth. The roughness promotes friction. If they get shiny, put a little sand in the notch.

Position a coal catcher. You need something to catch the coal that’s created, keep it insulated from the cold ground and carry it from the ground to the tinder. This can be a dry leaf, sliver of wood, piece of paper or bark, among other options. Whatever it is, make sure you can pick it up without fumbling around and dropping it.

Step B – Come On Baby Light My Fire

Keep going with the friction and you’ll get some smoke. When you’ve got a lot of smoke coming out, don’t stop. This is How To Start A Fire with Sticks. Increase the pressure and the speed of your drilling. Look at the dust you are creating. The darker the dust the better. If you are getting smoke from your dust pile, it is likely that you have a coal.

Fire Plow - Smoke

Keep trying, even if you don’t get a coal right away. If you’re trying to make a fire with sticks, keep in mind that it’s going to take a long time. A lot of people give up too soon, because they think it won’t work or there’s something wrong with the stick, but creating enough friction to start a fire takes a lot of work.

Blow the coal into flame.

Once you’re sure the coal isn’t going to go out, transfer it to your tinder and give it a gentle blow.

Blow through the tinder bundle. Begin blowing softly through the bundle while gently squeezing the tinder around the coal. As more tinder catches, you might have to turn and/or reshape it to keep the ember spreading into more and more of the tinder.

Blowing (swear this post is about fire) will provide more oxygen to stoke the fire and transfer the energy from the coal to the tinder bundle.

Said: Common Sense

Build your fire. Continue blowing and gently squeezing with the tinder bundle until you get actual flames. Put it on the ground where you want your fire. Keep blowing if you need to keep the flames going. How To Start A Fire With Sticks? Add the toothpick size sticks on top of the bundle, then the pencil sized sticks, followed by increasingly bigger items until you have your campfire.

If you have prepared a teepee-type fire put the burning tinder bundle into the center.

Keep blowing slowly and steadily to help spread the fire.

Fire Teepee

Recap of things you will need

  • Knife or sharp stone
  • Tinder
  • Fire board made from a soft wood (such as cedar or basswood/linden)
  • Drill made from the same or a softer wood (such as cottonwood root or young, soft maple sapling)
  • Bow made from a piece of “springy” wood (such as ash, wattle, hickory, sage or any “green” wood)
  • Leather or rawhide lace (such as a work boot lace) or a strong string
  • (Optional) Socket made from either a smooth, dimpled rock (some river rocks may be ideal) or piece of hard wood

Step C – Gather all the stuff you plan to burn

Good material includes: photos of your ex, pending tax bills and/or university diplomas (the latter most definitely makes good fire material these days)

Find some other tinder (no, not the app). If you are in a forest, firewood – anything that is dry, fibrous, and will take a spark or catch and ignite should do.

Pocket lint, feather down, dried mosses, and shredded plant fibers such as cedar bark, coconut husk…

Tinder Bundle Fire Kindling

Bundle all this tinder together, and make sure that it is very dry and fine. This is the first thing that you will burn.

Gather kindling (small sticks and twigs, most should be thinner than toothpick, others a bit larger). Make sure none of these materials are damp or green.


Find some larger firewood. This wood must be as dry as possible. As dry as your mortgage broker making jokes about reclaiming your house.

nepal, carrier, baskets, Firewood

When you collect the wood, try to avoid putting it directly onto the ground if it is wet.

How To Start A Fire With Sticks? Make a tinder nest (again, nothing to do with the app) (although if it did, what would that look like?)

Once you have a spark or some coals, you will transfer these to the nest to get the first flames.

Step D – Obtain Fireboard and Drill

Plow Drill Fire

Get a fireboard. This is what you will press the drill against to create the friction that will start your fire. The fire board and the drill both need to be made from light, dry, non-resinous wood.

The best wood for this won’t have any sap and will be light and soft enough to easily dent with your thumbnail without gouging.

How to pick the right fire stick (drill)? Wood that can be easily turnt into powder by friction. Wood that’s “not really wood” is good for fire sticks. Try the following:

  • Willow
  • Bamboo
  • Yucca
  • Sycamore
  • Dogwood
  • Cottonwood
  • Mullein Stalks
  • Poplar
  • Maple

Make sure the firestick is not too thick. Ideally, you want the two pieces of wood to share the same softness or alternatively go for a spindle/drill that is harder than the board.

Find the straightest piece of wood possible, and carve it down to a length of around 8 inches and a diameter of about 1.5 inches.

Carve one end of the Stick pointy, like the end of a pencil.

Carve the other end blunt or flat.

Bow String (a curved stick with string)

Bow Drill Fireboard

If you are trying the bow drill method, now is the time to make your bow. Use slightly flexible wood for this, as you’ll be exerting a lot of pressure on the bow and dead wood is more likely to break than similarly sized green wood. Green or dead wood can, however, both work as a bow.

Make a bow that is approximately the length of your arm, and has a diameter of one or two inches. Use as thin a piece of wood as you can so the bow will be as light as possible.

A lighter bow is easier to control and takes less strength to push back and forth. However, it has to be stiff enough to not bend when you’re using it.

Attach the bowstring. Use a shoelace, drawstring, small rope or whatever cordage you can find for the bowstring.

What type of string should I use for the bow method?

Nylon, leather, jute and paracord all work well. Try using a bigger string, as a smaller string might break.

Cut a length that is around six feet long, and tie one end of the cordage tightly to one end of the bow. Tie the other end of the string on with a looser an adjustable knot so that you can alter the length and tension of the string.

It’s important to keep the string tight so that it doesn’t slip on the drill. However, if it’s too tight, it will make the drill pop out of the socket or the fire-board.

Find or make a socket. The socket, sometimes referred to as the handhold, is the thing you will use to exert extra downwards pressure on the drill, Typically it is a small object with a hole or notch in that you place on the top of drill and push down on. Lubricating the socket (no comment) with lip balm or resin is a good practice.

Armed with these elements you will easily find out how to start a fire with sticks.

So where now on your journey back to civilisation? Well, you’re basically a survivor and people like that in their national icons. Fancy learning how to start a career as a politician next?

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