How To start a fire with stick

How to Start Fire with Sticks – Camping Survival Strategy

Starting a fire with sticks has always been fascinating as a kid. You must have seen this technique in movies or your history book, where primitive people used sticks and stones to start a fire.

It is no big deal, you can also do it. The process might seem to be deceptive from the movie scenes. But, this is actually a basic strategy or technique that every camper should know. 

While camping, you are quite familiar with the fact that fire not only protects you from wild animals but also provides the warmth and the heat to prepare your meal. It is quite obvious that you would go for a fire starter to ignite a fire. 

However, you should always be prepared for emergencies – What if the fire starter fails to work? Then, you must have an alternative. Starting a fire by stick should be your Plan B, and you must know what raw materials you should have along with you in case of a crisis.

It might be intimidating, but its utilization is a basic necessity during Camping. So, let’s get to know how you can start fire with sticks.

Methods to Start Fire with Sticks

There are three basic methods for starting a fire using a stick, and each comes with its own share of pros and cons. 

Based on your intelligence and necessity, you have to employ the method. 

  • Bow Drill
  • Hand Drill
  • Fire Plow

Surviving in the wilderness requires critical survival skills, and starting a fire using a stick is one of them.

The Proper Time to Start Fire with Sticks

Whether you’re looking to prepare for a trip or you’re a backpacker, having the ability to start a fire is an essential skill to have. A fire can keep you warm and help prepare meals in the wilderness.

To start a fire, you’ll need to gather firewood and tinder. This can be done in several ways. If you don’t have a lighter or a fire starter, you can use a hand drill or a bow drill.

Preparing for a Fire

Getting a fire started with sticks is a life-saving skill. This skill can save your life in a wilderness emergency. But it takes a lot of practice. Practice with various methods, so you can get the hang of it.

Step 1: 

The first step to getting a fire started with sticks is to gather wood. You will need a piece of wood for the base of your fire and two more pieces of wood. This will need to be a foot and a half long and be straight.

Step 2:

You should also gather tinder, which includes dry grass or hay. Pine needles work well as tinder. Otherwise, you can also use newspapers.

Step 3:

The next step is to make a tinder nest. This nest should be large enough to hold a small pile of tinder. You should also make sure there are plenty of air pockets.

The Right Way to Start Fire with Sticks

Whether you’re a seasoned camper or a newbie, it’s important to know the right way to start a fire with sticks. Keep a note of the types of wood used: cottonwood, cedar, ash, dry yucca stalk, and beech or aspen. Now, follow the elaborated methods.

Bow Drill Method

Using a bow drill to start a fire is a simple and quick method that will allow you to get the fire going quickly. This primitive survival technique can be extremely rewarding if you are able to master it. 

However, it is a skill that takes time to master. You will need to practice a lot to get it right. 

Materials required:

  • Spindle
  • Bow
  • Handhold
  • Hearth Board


You will need a spindle. This is usually about six to eight inches long. A drill spindle is a piece of wood that is carved to thumb thickness. You must choose softwood that has a low ignition point. These prove to get ignited easily. Your job is to make the spindle rounded at the top and the bottom. Remember, the spindle must be dry with 0% moisture retention.


You will need a bow drill set. The cord should be long enough to extend from the handle of the bow. If you do not have a bow drill set, you can make one by using a stick. You can prepare a bow using a long stick. tie a string (either from bootlace or cordage). Tie the string end to end to get a perfect bow shape. there must be enough space so that you can wrap it around the spindle.


Any object that can be used to press down from the top of the spindle. This helps to fix the position of the spindle, which creates friction against the hearth board. You can use concave stone, wood, or a shell to use as a handhold. 

Hearth Board

A piece of dry wood is called the hearth board, which you must cut to make a depression. This will help to hold the spindle. Next, you have to create a V shape wedge right beside it and put a tinder. This will heat up the wood, and you will get wood dust and ember.

Step-by-Step Process to Ignite the Fire

  1. You need to put the bowstring into the groove of the spindle by winding it up around the spindle.
  2. Locate the depression of the hearth and put the rounded end of the spindle downwards. Now, you have to secure the hearth board so that it does not move.
  3. Hold the spindle vertically using the handhold and apply pressure. This will keep the entire structure in its place while the spindle also spins without any interruption.
  4. Slowly and steadily, you must move the bow backward and then forward. Ramp it up until you see the smoke building up. To increase the friction, you can put sand in the depression of the hearth.
  5. If you can see smoke, add the ember to the tinder and try to blow at it gently. Continue this process until you can see a flame. 

Hand Drill Method

Using sticks to start a fire is a good survival skill, but you must be careful. Using wood that is not suited for the task can result in your hands and feet being injured.

Materials required

  • A fireboard
  • A spindle (the stick)
  • Firewood

The best way to start fire with sticks is to have a fire board. A good fireboard will be made of soft wood, such as basswood or cedar. It should also be a little less than an inch thick.

You must also have a drill. This tool can be made from bone or wood. A good drill should be about one to two feet long.

Another item you need to build a fire is a hearth board. A hearth board is made from softwood and can be made from weeping willow or cedar.

Step-by-Step Process

A hand drill is somewhat similar to a bow drill method. However, the major difference is that you do not use a bow. Instead, the spindle needs to be rolled between your hands. If you do not have any string, then a hand drill is the best alternative to the bow drill method. 

Always go for a smooth spindle; otherwise, you might get hurt or get a cut on your hands. Roll the stick between your palms and press it downwards. Now, roll your hands downwards to create pressure on the hearth board. 

The rest of the steps are similar to the bow drill method.

Fire Plough and Fire Thong

Using a fire plough and fire thong can be a good way to start a fire. This method uses friction to produce heat and coal. It’s also the quickest way to light a fire. If you don’t know how to use this method, you’ll be lucky if you can start fire with sticks.

Materials required

  • A plow board
  • A stick
  • Firewood

Step-by-Step Process for Fire Plough

There are many fire-starting methods available. The fire plough is the easiest to use. It involves rubbing a dry stick into a groove in a long piece of wood. This produces hot dust and creates an ember. The fire thong is a variation of the same concept that uses a flexible strip of wood.  

  1. First, you must cut a grove right at the center of the hearth board. 
  2. Next, locate the edges and place some tinder. 
  3. Pressure on the spindle and move it up and down to create friction. 
  4. Do not stop until and unless you see smoke arising from wood dust or tinder. 
  5. The ember will help to start the fire.

Step-by-Step Process for Fire Thong

If you are applying the fire thong method, then instead of using two pieces of wood, you have to use just one piece to create an ember. Along with that, you also need a piece of rope or cordage.

  1. Choose a long dry branch, and it must be a few inches in diameter. 
  2. Split the branch, but only halfway, and the other half should remain intact. 
  3. You need to give the stick a wedge formation by using either a rock or any other object. 
  4. Right at the center, you have to place the tinder. 
  5. The cord should go through the split and reach down at the edge of the tinder.
  6. Pull the cord as you hold back the stick in its place and move it back and forth. 
  7. This will ignite the smoke, and an ember will get created on the stick.
  8. Wait for a few seconds, and the fire will start.

Isolating the Fire in the Fire Pit

Putting out a fire can be a dangerous job. Having a proper method of extinguishment can help you save your home and your loved ones. It can also prolong the life of your fire pit.

Fire pits are a great way to spend time with friends and family. They’re also a safe way to enjoy the outdoors. However, fires can also produce air pollution. In addition, they can cause burn injuries. If you’re using a fire pit in your backyard, you should take the necessary precautions to prevent fire accidents.

If you want to use your fire pit again, take the time to clean it out. You may want to place dry sand or dirt in the pit. Adding water to the fire can also help extinguish the flames.


If you have been wondering what acts as the fuel to ignite the fire, it is Friction. You have to put in enough effort to create friction, along with the right setup and the right wood. This would create an ember, now, simple blowing ignites the flame as you add oxygen to it. You can also use kindling instead of tinder. 

Now, you have learned the methods, it is time to master them and put them into practice. Other than these, you can use a lighter to ignite the fire or throw lighter fuel on the woods if you find strong winds are blowing. 

Moreover, maintain complete precautions because to start fire with sticks is not child’s play. So, keep monitoring the fire and do not leave it unattended. 


What is the difference between tinder and kindling?

The basic difference between tinder and kindling is that tinder are a bunch of small sticks, dry grass, and vegetation. This helps to keep the fire going as it ignites without much hassle and also burns at a quick rate. On the other hand, Kindling is medium-sized sticks or twigs. These act as the middleman between firewood and tinder.

What types of wood should be used to start fire with sticks?

Types of woods that are good for starting a fire: Willow, Sycamore, Yucca, Bamboo, Dogwood, and Cottonwood.

How long does it take to start fire with sticks?

If you are a newbie, then igniting a fire would take time. You need to practice to reduce the time duration. Usually, to drill, you might take around 20 minutes, and then in the next 5 minutes, the fire will start. Moreover, you can ignite the fire in 1 minute if you learn the skill and practice it.

What if you cannot find dry wood due to rain?

Do not worry, you still have an alternative solution to start fire with sticks. Do you have a hatchet? Then, chop a little bark from it and reach the dry area. Next, chop them into the shape of a kindling. If you see a small fire burning, try to place more wood around it.

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