How To Start A Fire With Sticks

The controlled use of fire can be seen as one of the most significant technological advances in human evolution.

Fire has allowed humans to survive colder climates, cook, as well as farm – this transformed human life and, ultimately, shaped society into what it is today.

How To Start A Fire With Sticks

Creating a fire is an essential skill to know and understand, especially if you enjoy off the grid living, camping, fishing, or hiking.

If you set out on a trip but forget or lose your fire starting kit, your next best thing to rely on is sticks.

Luckily for you, sticks can be found almost everywhere. However, it’s important to understand how to make a fire with sticks before you do anything.

It could mean the difference between life and, in worse-case scenarios, death. Therefore, below, you will find a step-by-step process of how to start a fire with sticks. 

What To Consider Before Starting A Fire

Before you attempt to start any fires, there are a few factors to consider.

Firstly, make sure the location you choose is far away from any bushes, trees, or plants to prevent bushfires. This should be approximately 6 feet away with bare ground. 

Likewise, you should never start a fire on top of grass or dry vegetation as they can quickly and easily catch fire.

If you’re unable to find any bare ground you may have to take away any vegetation and dig the spot to form a bare section. 

Lastly, once you have created your stick fire, you’re going to need to keep it contained. All you would need to do to achieve this is to make a stone fire enclosure surrounding your fire. 

Materials You Will Need 

All fires need three components to thrive. These are heat, fuel, and oxygen. Without them, your fire won’t start or continue.

Therefore, below, you will find everything you need to successfully start and maintain your fire. 


Tinder refers to easily combustible materials. So, small and lightweight items. These include:

  • Cardboard strips or shavings 
  • Wax
  • Wood shavings 
  • Wadded paper 

You could also use bark or dried leaves if you don’t have access to any of these materials in your survival backpack. 


This would be considered the next layering of your fire-making process. Kindling helps the fire to catch alight more easily.

This can range from twigs, medium-sized sticks, or larger pieces of bark. Anything which can add more fuel to the fire and is between the sizes of 0.5 and 0.5 inches in diameter. This should be dry. 

Wood Logs

The last thing you’ll need is wood logs. These are vital for starting and maintaining your fire. They are essentially the core of a fire. 

Each of your firewood pieces should be between the sizes of 1 and 5 inches in diameter. In terms of the different types of wood, some take longer to burn than others.

Hardwood and oak require more patience, while softwood, such as cedar, is best for beginners. 

Now that you considered all the factors and collected all of your materials, it is now time to learn how to start a fire using sticks. 

The Hand Drill Method 

The Hand Drill Method 

This method uses a straight stick and a fireboard with a combination of friction to make a fire.

This is a great method for survival situations; however, it does require a lot of skill to master. Below are the materials you will need. 

Hand Drill

For this method, you will need a straight stick that measures roughly one or two feet long, with  ½ an inch diameter.

All rough surfaces should be sanded or scraped away to create a smooth stick. The thicker end will be installed into the fireboard to cause friction, this end should be wider and pointier.


The best fireboard can be made out of dry or dead weeping willow, cedar, or basswood. The board should be approximately ½ an inch thick and two times wider than the intended drill.

To prevent it from wobbling, you can carve the bottom flat. The holes created should be roughly ⅛ inches deep and ½ away from the edge of the board. 

Use your hands to twist the drill into the hole to make it deeper. Then, make a 45-degree angle incision on the edge of your board to create a notch. 

How To Use The Hand Drill Method

First, set up your hand drill in a sitting or kneeling position, with your knee or foot holding down the fireboard securely.

To prevent your board from touching the humid ground, place some leaves or bark underneath. Then, place a small twig or a thick dry leaf into the incision to collect the coal. 

With your hands pressed firmly together with your drill in between your palms, spin the drill back and forth while pressing it down into the fireboard.

This will generate heat and dust, before eventually producing coal. Once your hands are at the bottom of the drill, repeat this process. 

Continue with this method until smoke forms. You should be able to see lots of dark brown dust coming out of the incision. 

Drill faster and continue to make various runs up and down the drill to flare up the dust. When you stop drilling and the dust is still smoking, within a few seconds coal will form. If not, you will need to continue this process. 

Gently tap your board and lift it away to expose the coal. Move the coal to a bundle of dry tinder and close it while slowly blowing the coal until the tinder bursts into flames. Then you can start assembling your fire. 

Final Thoughts

If you enjoy off-the-grid living, camping, or hiking, knowing how to make a fire is vital information.

Especially if you don’t have the right equipment with you and need to rely on natural resources. Hopefully, this guide has informed you on how to start a fire with sticks. 

Matthew Osborn

Matt is an entrepreneur who has created and successfully exited multiple companies and brands. Now, he dedicates his time to Legionary, where he produces content on guns, family, and freedom.

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