Bushcraft expert shows how to light fire without matches

IMG 51043 Bushcraft expert shows how to light fire without matches

Goodness gracious, a great ball of fire

Lake District Bushcraft: Friction Fire Lighting

Stuart62 Bushcraft expert shows how to light fire without matches

As part of our Family Adventure Capital Season we’ve been investigating Bushcraft in Cumbria. This week we were lucky enough to meet and talk with Ben McNutt, owner of Cumbrian Bushcraft experts Woodsmoke who showed us how to light fire without matches, despite the damp weather!  

How to light a fire without matches

Ben did an apprenticeship with Ray Mears and has spent much of his life learning bush-craft from indigenous people around the world. Put it this way if I were to be stranded in the jungle, desert, on an icecap or even on a Cumbrian fell, this is the man I’d want to have around. Most Woodsmoke courses last a week or more; we only had an hour! But even in that he showed us a core bush-craft skill – how to light a fire using only the natural materials around you, technically called the bow drill friction fire lighting technique.

IMG 50672 Bushcraft expert shows how to light fire without matches

Somewhere up in a clearing in the woodlands, we are offered a lesson in bushcraft

We’ll be profiling Ben later in the season, but for now we just couldn’t wait to share some pictures of this magic. One word of warning, please don’t try this in your local woods, forest or at home unless you are absolutely sure fire-lighting is permitted and know what you are doing.

Or have Ben with you.

First gather and prepared your materials

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After clearing a space you need to prepare your materials. First comes the drill

IMG 50452 Bushcraft expert shows how to light fire without matches

Then the bow, socket and fireboard are assembled

Then get yourself organised

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To light fire successfully you need to get organised and be ready to generate some heat

Now for the hard work

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The friction produced drawing the bow drill back and forth soon generates heat and smoke

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And where there’s smoke, there’s the possibility of fire, but not just yet…

You’re aiming to make smoking embers

IMG 50581 Bushcraft expert shows how to light fire without matches

The first stage produces hot embers, from which you can hopefully light your tinder

IMG 50881 Bushcraft expert shows how to light fire without matches

The embers are carefully placed in the centre of your dry tinder ball

Now for the magic…

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And with gentle blowing to feed oxygen ….

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You soon have smoke, and everyone knows there’s no smoke without….

There’s no smoke without…

IMG 50961 Bushcraft expert shows how to light fire without matches

Fire….

Fire…

IMG 51031 Bushcraft expert shows how to light fire without matches

With your tinder ball alight who needs a match? You’re ready to light your fire

Cool eh? Fire without matches!

IMG 51061 Bushcraft expert shows how to light fire without matches

Now that’s what I call a fire-starter. Who knew it was so easy to light fire.

Have you ever made fire without matches? 

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Kirstie is the Editor of The Family Adventure Project. A professional writer, she's the creative and journalistic force behind many of the stories and features published here. She's a co-founder and co-director of the project, the misadventure magnet part of the partnership and a busy mum.

17 Responses to “Bushcraft expert shows how to light fire without matches” Subscribe

  1. Fiona @ Bpsinver February 24, 2012 at 12:56 pm #

    Great blog – love the pictures! We run ‘Wild Kids’ sessions for our younger visitors to help connect them with nature. The campfires (and marshmallow toasting) as always popular.

    It’s nice to see this done the traditional way by an expert!

  2. Becca @ R We There Yet Mom? February 24, 2012 at 1:31 pm #

    That is amazing – so cool to see it all step by step on here! You guys always have such amazing experiences!!

    Thank you for linking up! Have a super weekend!

    ~Becca

  3. Lisa February 24, 2012 at 5:15 pm #

    Very cool! I’m pretty sure that I wouldn’t have a hope of starting a fire without a match though even if I followed the step by step directions.

    • Stuart (Family Adventure Project) February 24, 2012 at 10:56 pm #

      We thought much the same! But when the technique is clearly explained and demonstrated and you have the right resources, while it’s not necessarily easy, it’s quite doable. And very satisfying!

  4. Anwar February 24, 2012 at 5:30 pm #

    Fantastic! Thanks for sharing. I haven’t made a fire like that in so many years back when I was a boyscout!

  5. David February 24, 2012 at 5:39 pm #

    Yes, love making fire without matches, there are quite a few ways, but fire-by-friction gives the most primal satisfaction. And who showed me how, many years ago in the fantastic wilds of Cumbria at Woodsmoke, it was Ben McNutt! Thanks Ben.

    • Stuart (Family Adventure Project) February 24, 2012 at 11:00 pm #

      You’re right there’s a real primal satisfaction in ‘natural’ methods of fire making. It’s quite a surreal, almost magical experience sitting in the gloop one moment, then watching smoke and moments later someone holding a ball of fire. I’m sure Ben will be pleased to hear you’ve retained your skill.

  6. InACents February 25, 2012 at 2:13 am #

    I feel like all the contestants on Survivor need to read this post for their first night on the island. I do not know if I would have had the courage though to hang onto the burning embers that long in the last photo.

  7. Terumi February 25, 2012 at 5:16 am #

    I am going to have to bookmark this so I can impress all my guys the next time I go camping. Very cool.

  8. Steve February 25, 2012 at 4:44 pm #

    The last shot looks like something out of a movie – You’re about to rear back and launch a fireball at the enemy or something. Very cool skill to learn.

  9. Chad March 1, 2012 at 3:59 pm #

    A great skill to have! Just practice plenty before you rely on it.

  10. Rachel (@rachey320) March 8, 2012 at 6:43 am #

    Wow! You can say you’ve held fire!

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