How To … Make a Fire Without Matches
If the sun is shining, by far the easiest way to light a fire is by using a magnifying glass. Focus the sun’s rays into the smallest circle possible and aim it at a handful of tinder and kindling. If you don’t have a magnifying glass, a thick pair of spectacle lenses may work.
Otherwise, you should use the hand-drill method.
1. Find a curved stick about two-feet long and tie a piece of string from one end of the stick to the other(a shoelace, or natural fiber such as yucca or milkweed, will work too).
2. Make a fireboard from a piece of wood approximately an inch thick, three-inches wide, and about a foot long. Carve a shallow recess in the center of the wood about a half-inch from the edge. Cut a V into the edge at this point.
3. Twist the string in the center of the bow once to form a loop and insert a spindle stick through the loop. The spindle stick is a straight stick that is about one inch in diameter and about a foot long. It is rounded at one end and carved to a point at the other.
4. Place tinder (material which ignites easily – dry leaves, bark, grasses, etc.) into the V, and then place the point of the spindle next to it. Draw the bow back and forward with your right hand while pressing down on the vertical spindle with the handhold in your left palm. The handhold is a small piece of wood with a depression cut on one side that allows you to exert downward pressure without hampering the movement of the spindle. Apply grease to the recess to reduce friction.
5. Press down more firmly with the handhold as you increase the speed of the bowing. Soon the handhold fireboard should begin to smoke and ignite the tinder. Blow gently until flames appear.