How To Start a Fire With Sticks

How To Start a Fire With Sticks

Imagine you camp or hike and discover you are forgetting matches or that your lighter is broken or lost.

Among the many fire-starting skills one could use, knowing how to start a fire with sticks could be very crucial. This technique can be your lifeline.

I’m Jaden, In continuation of our guide on how to start a fire, today we’ll discover how to make a fire with sticks.

So, if you want to learn about this skill, whether you’re a camper, hiker, or survivalist, this guide is for you. Stay reading until the end. Let’s get started!

Selecting the Right Materials

What you choose in materials matters immensely. Hibiscus wood is our hero here, a lightweight and easily ignitable option.

And don’t forget the coconut husk – it’s a gem in this process, serving as the perfect nest for your would-be fire (You can also use shredded cedar bark or jute twine).

Preparing the Sticks

How To Start a Fire With Sticks

I’ve often found the best sticks are dead branches from hibiscus,cedar, cottonwood, willow, or similar.

Here’s your swift roadmap to build your bow and drill:

  • Choose wrist-thick, two-foot-long pieces.
  • Fireboard: Cut a 12-inch piece, and whittle it down to a flat board, 12 inches long, 2-4 inches wide, and 1 inch deep.
  • Drill: Carve an 8-inch branch into a dowel, 1 inch in diameter, with a tapered top and blunt bottom.
  • Handhold: Carve a soap-sized wood piece, round the edges, and carve a half-inch deep socket for the drill’s top. Lubricate with soap or wax.
  • Find a gently curving branch, arm-length, 1-2 inches in diameter and use strong cordage like parachute cord to build the bow and bowstring.[1]

These shapes aren’t just for show, they serve as the essential groundwork for our friction fire.

Build a Teepee of Wood

building a teepee structure is your ticket to a successful blaze. Because fire needs oxygen to dance. When you arrange sticks in a teepee shape, you create a chimney effect. This means air can easily flow in from the bottom, fueling your fire. 

Teepees concentrate the heat at the center, where you’re placing your tinder. This focused energy helps ignite your tinder swiftly, getting your fire party started without a long wait.

Ensure you leave a gap at the bottom of your teepee. This opening lets air rush in, feeding your fire’s appetite. Without good airflow, even the best teepee might struggle.

Creating Friction for Fire

Creating Friction for Fire

Alright, time to turn those carefully crafted pieces into flames. Here’s your step-by-step:

  1. Set Up Your Kit: Place your fireboard on the ground, the coal catcher underneath, and have your tinder bundle ready nearby.
  2. Bow & Drill Positioning: With your left foot on the fireboard (adjust if left-handed), put the drill into the bowstring, wrapping it tightly once. Insert the drill into the starter hole, add the handhold on top, keeping the drill upright.
  3. Get into Position: Set yourself up for success. Ensure your wrist is against your shin, left hand on the handhold, and right hand gripping the bow.
  4. Start Bowing: Move the bow slowly at first, gradually increasing speed. Keep an eye out for smoke where the drill and fireboard meet.
  5. Notch and Collect Dust: Remove the drill, carve a notch into the fireboard where the drill spun. Ensure the coal catcher is under the notch to collect wood dust.
  6. Continue Bowing: Return to bowing, speeding up as you go. Don’t be tempted to stop when it smokes a lot—keep going until you’re tired.
  7. Check for Coal: Examine the dust pile closely. If it’s dark and smoky on its own, you likely have a coal.
  8. Transfer to Tinder: Let the coal burn a bit, then move it to the center of the tinder bundle. Shape the bundle into a nest, partially enclosing the coal.
  9. Blow and Build: Give it some gentle puffs to speed up the flammable process. Now, nestle the burning tinder bundle into your teepee fire.

Accelerating the Fire Formation

Now it’s time to stoke your ember to life. Provide more airflow by gently waving the bundle around or blow into the coals.

It’s a delicate balance between too much and too little, but you’ll find the sweet spot. And then, success! Your flame is ready.

How to start a fire with sticks safely

Starting a fire with sticks is a valuable survival skill, but it’s important to do it safely. Here are some tips:

  • Choose your materials carefully: Use dry, non-toxic wood for your tinder, kindling, and firewood. Avoid wood from poisonous plants, such as rhododendron.
  • Find a safe place to start your fire: Choose a flat, stable surface away from flammable materials.
  • Be careful with hot components: The drill, board, and socket will become hot during the fire-starting process. Use gloves and be mindful of where you place them after use.
  • Adjust the string carefully: If you’re using a bow drill, make sure the string is not too tight. Otherwise, it could pop out and injure you.
  • Be patient and persistent: Starting a fire with sticks can take time. Don’t get frustrated and rush the process.
  • Be careful when spreading the fire: Once you have a coal, use a twig to lift it away from the fire board if it gets stuck. Blow gently on the coal to ignite the fire.
  • Be environmentally responsible: Make sure your fire doesn’t damage the ecosystem or wildlife. Follow Leave No Trace principles and leave the area as you found it.


And there you have it – fire from sticks, birthed before your eyes. It’s a process, a dance of patience and sensitivity to nature’s cues. So, go ahead, practice this. It might just save your life someday.

Remember, the spark of survival lies not just in perseverance but in understanding and using the world around you to your aid. If you can make a fire by rubbing sticks, you’ve cracked a fundamental survival code.

So, carry on, my fellow adventurers—practice, learn, and let the curious flame of knowledge never die out. After all, who knows when you might need to whip up a fire and save the day?

That concludes our tutorial on how to start a fire with sticks—a crucial skill often underappreciated until the need arises. If you have any questions or experiences you want to share with us, don’t hesitate to leave them in the comments.

Related Topics:

How To Start A Fire When Everything Is Wet?

How To Start A Fire Without A Lighter

Cook While Camping: Essential Gear, Techniques And Recipes

How To Start A Fire With Rocks?

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