How to make sparks without matches or a lighter If you camp a lot there is a good trick for making sparks without matches or a lighter. The biggest key to making a fire is to be able to do it when stuff is damp and wet. Lighting a fire in damp circumstances can be hard. You can use steel wool and a nine volt battery to make sparks even in damp circumstances. The finer the steel wool is the better it will work so use some extra fine for this task. All you have to do is take the steel wool and run the battery terminals over it and it will create instant sparks that you can use to start a fire.