How To: Make a Fire by Rubbing Two Sticks Together!

Make a Fire by Rubbing Two Sticks Together!

Here's a survival technique for making a fire with the most basic of resources—assuming you can find two sticks to rub together!

With a little creative license, let's imagine you're cast away on a deserted island with little hope of rescue.

In a situation like this, being able to start a fire may be critical to your survival. Fire will allow you to;

  • Cook food
  • Purify water
  • Keep warm
  • Fend off predators
  • Make smoke signals
  • Fashions tools
  • Make char cloth
  • ...and more

Along with making shelter and finding a source of drinking water, building a fire should be one of your top priorities.

But here's the problem—you don't have any modern fire-starting equipment. All you have are the clothes on your back.

The good news is that as long as you can find a piece of soft dry wood, you can try this primitive fire-making technique I learned from the Samoans.

Using a sharp rock, you'll need to fashion a plowing stick from the same piece of wood so that it's about 1/4" thick and long enough to wrap both hands around. The tip should be formed so that it contacts the base at a 45º angle. If the base is round, you'll also need to scrape it down to a flat surface about 8" long.

You'll also need to get a tinder bundle ready. If you have access to a dried out coconut husk like this, use it, because it's easy to use and it's full of fibers that will burst into flames.

You can sit on the back end of the base to hold it steady, and then grip the plow with both hands and push back and forth. Most of the work should be in the upper body, so keep your arms relatively straight and push with your shoulders.

When a fine wood dust begins to accumulate, continue faster and with slightly more pressure, focusing on building up a neat little pile.

When the pile is smoking on its own, that means you've got an ember burning, and it's ready to be transferred to your tinder bundle.

Hold the ember loosely in the bundle, balancing the amount of air it's receiving, with the tinder it touches. Fuel, oxygen, and heat are the three components required to get a flame, so this part takes practice, and patience. Blowing gently into the bundle can help speed the process. When enough heat builds, you can waive the bundle around to get more air, or blow forcefully to ignite the flame!

Now you can sit back, relax, and hope for a speedy rescue.

Now you know how to make a fire by rubbing sticks together.

If you liked this project, perhaps you'll like some of my others. Check them out at

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1 Comment

That is really impressive getting a fire plow to work. I've tried it with sotol too and haven't been able to get a coal yet. Or what is the material yo u are using?

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