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7 Clever Ways To Start a Fire With a Battery



Fire is one of mankind’s most fundamental technologies, and is useful or mandatory in all kinds of survival scenarios. Light, heat, cooking, signaling: fire can do a lot for you.

starting a fire with a battery collage

Naturally, you’ll need to have the know-how and tools to start a fire, and lacking either you could be in for a bad time.

Luckily, clever survivors can get a fire going with common batteries and little else.

Starting a fire with batteries is an often overlooked method that is surprisingly simple and does not require any special tools or specialized materials.

In this article, we’ll show you several methods to start a fire with just batteries and some common household items or even scavenged trash.

How Do We Use Batteries to Start a Fire?

Batteries can be used to start a fire thanks to the simple principles of electricity. Batteries can be combined with other materials to generate a spark that can in turn ignite a fire, or else make another material hot enough to set fire to tinder.

No matter the method, all are accomplished similarly: touching the positive and negative poles of the battery with some kind of conductor.

By doing so you will create sparks or the conductor will get really, really hot. It depends on the type of conductor you are using, but rest assured either works.

Whichever method you choose or are forced to use from the list below, just ensure there is flammable material present or else it you’ll be wasting time and resources.

Any of these methods will drain batteries very quickly, and can damage them. You’ll want to have your kindling set and tinder in position so you can act quickly.

That’s all there is to it…

Now, let’s get on to the techniques.

Starting a Fire with a AA / AAA Battery and Steel Wool

This is one of the most basic battery fire-starting techniques, and also one of the most adaptable.

To execute, all you need is a common AA or AAA battery and some steel wool. Note that while any steel wool will work, finer is better, so try to snag some 000 or 0000 (best) for the task.

Get your tinder and kindling set, then do the following:

  1. Roll steel wool loosely into puffy rope shape, long enough to reach both ends of battery.
  2. Press and hold one end of steel wool rope to positive terminal of battery.
  3. Get close to tinder.
  4. Press other end of steel wool rope to negative terminal of battery. Middle of rope should get hot and glow.
  5. Gently move embers of steel wool into tinder until ignition.

And that’s it. The steel wool will heat up and the sparks it generates from the battery should be more than enough to ignite even stubborn tinder.

starting a fire with a 9V battery and steel wool
starting a fire with a 9V battery and steel wool

Starting a Fire with a 9 Volt Battery and Steel Wool

This variation of the above technique uses the same materials and principles, but a 9V battery makes for a slightly different execution and it is notably more spectacular.

Once more, make sure your tinder and wood are set, then do the following:

  1. Hold battery in one hand, terminals up.
  2. Mash steel wool into compact but loose wad. Hold in other hand.
  3. Position battery near tinder.
  4. Brush or stroke steel wool bundle across terminals. Shower of sparks should appear.
  5. Repeat, aiming sparks at tinder until ignition.

A little more going on in this version of the technique, but it is reliable. The sparks produced from the 9V battery are typically more plentiful than those from an AA/AAA and should light your kindling in short order.

Starting a Fire with a Battery and a Wire

A great direct method for lighting your fire, and one that affords you more control over the process compared to steel wool. A common piece of copper wire that is long enough to reach both terminals of your battery is all that is required.

starting fire with a 9V battery and metal wire
starting fire with a 9V battery and metal wire

You know the drill by now- set your wood and your tinder, then proceed:

  1. If wire has insulation, strip both ends and length in the middle section.
  2. If wire is very long, fold in half and make loop or coil in middle where insulation was cut away.
  3. Bend wire into shape were both ends will easily make and maintain contact with terminals.
  4. Hold battery in one hand. Holding wire in other hand (by insulation, if present) press ends into terminals. Warning: Wire will get very hot. Use gloves if available or something else non-flammable to protect hands.
  5. Press center of wire to tinder. Hold until fire ignites.

This method won’t give you the instant gratification of a shower of hot embers and sparks like steel wool, but this is because almost any kind of wire is much thicker than the superfine strands of the wool, so it takes longer to heat up.

Starting a Fire with a 9V Battery and a Light Bulb

With a little care and caution, it is possible to use a traditional incandescent light bulb in conjunction with a battery to quickly start a fire.

This method is notable because it works very reliably, but it is also a bit risky since you need to delicately break and expose the filament within the bulb.

small light bulb next to a 9V battery
small light bulb next to a 9V battery

Build your initial fire, set your tinder, and do the following:

1. Gather battery and bulb. If battery is not 9V, obtain piece of wire long enough to span terminals of battery.

2. Carefully remove glass from light bulb. First, wiggle bulb to see if globe is loose. Remove manually if possible. If not, cover globe with cloth and gently break away glass with hard object. Wear gloves. Caution: Do not damage filament inside bulb or technique will fail!

broken light bulb on napkin next to meat tenderiser
broken light bulb on napkin next to meat tenderiser

3. Span terminals with wire, if needed, and then touch terminals/wire to contact point on bottom of bulb. Filament will quickly turn red hot.

flame coming from light bulb after connection to battery
flame coming from light bulb after connection to battery

4. Gently place glowing filament on tinder. Tinder should ignite easily.

5. Withdraw bulb and separate battery. Remove wire from battery if used.

The tungsten filament in your average, old-style light bulb will easily ignite any tinder when it is glowing red hot, but to take advantage of it you’ll need to risk breaking it by exposing it.

This is one method that is definitely worth practicing.

Use a Battery and Aluminum Foil (Gum Wrapper)

This is a great technique that is fast, effective, and repeatable, but one that requires finesse.

Like all the other methods on this list, it works reliably and needs very little in the way of resources. All you need here is a piece of aluminum foil or a foil gum wrapper.

Setup your firewood and tinder, then read on:

1. Make sure foil can reach both terminals on battery.

2. Fold foil in half lengthwise.

gum wrapper with thin connection carved in the middle
gum wrapper with thin connection carved in the middle

3. Cut or carefully tear a semi-circle shape out of middle of foil, leaving only a thin connection in middle (appx. 1/8″). This is important to ensure foil can heat up enough to ignite tinder. If it helps, imagine the foil looking like a bridge when viewed from the side.

4. Hold battery with one end of foil on positive terminal.

5. Move battery close to tinder.

6. Using other hand, press free end of foil to negative terminal. Warning: Foil will heat up extremely quickly in middle.

fire started with gum wrapper
fire started with gum wrapper

7. Watch for ignition.

One notable drawback of this method is that it might burn itself out if you make the middle of the foil too thin. If that happens, make a new piece and cut it the same way, only leave a little more material.

using smartphone battery and aluminum foil to start a flame
using smartphone battery and aluminum foil to start a flame

Using a Cell phone Battery to Start a Fire

You can use a cell phone or other mobile device battery for any of the techniques shared above with just a little modification to the procedures. There are a few things you must keep in mind, though:

  • Cell phone batteries might have the terminals close together, like most removable types, or on opposite or adjacent edges of the battery, as is more common with non-removable types.
  • Warning: Lithium-ion batteries are extremely energetic and high output. Be prepared for plentiful, intense sparks and lots of heat.
  • Damaged lithium-ion batteries might ignite or explode. Use extreme caution if salvaging or attempting to modify a battery from damaged equipment.

Other than that, they work just like the AA/AAA and 9V batteries described above…

Starting a Fire with a 9 Volt Battery and a Paperclip

A slightly trickier method of employing a 9V battery. The reason I say this is that it might take a while to get a fire started, and it might not even work at all.

The metal the paperclip is made of is not a good conductor, so it might not get very hot.

To use this method, you’ll just need a paper clip or any other short piece of wire. Note that if you are using a paperclip, make sure it does not have any plastic or rubber coating on it.

Look closely, and if needed, you can strip it, or use a different wire. Once your kindling and tinder are set, proceed:

  1. Unfold the paperclip into one end of long straight piece of wire with a small loop at one end. Fold small leg into opposite end. This end should be wide enough to span one terminal.
  2. Fold paper clip in half at middle into “V” shape. Both ends should be pointing roughly at terminals.
  3. Hook looped end around positive terminal of battery. Use caution that it does not jump gap to other terminal.
  4. Position battery near tinder. Free end of paperclip should be close to opposite terminal.
  5. Holding battery, gently press middle “point” of wire into tinder, which should press free end into terminal, completing circuit.
  6. Paperclip will become very hot, igniting tinder.
  7. When lit, withdraw battery and carefully remove paperclip.

In a way, this method offers a bit more control and convenience since you can easily control it with only one hand, and it will get damn hot, fast. On the other hand, it is fiddlier to set up.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does It Matter If the Batteries are Used or Old?

Yes. Batteries only work to start a fire when they contain a charge.

Dead or nearly dead batteries means they won’t have enough juice to create sparks or to make your conductor screaming hot and able to get your fire going.

For clarity, it does not matter if your batteries have been used or are brand-new from the package so long as they have plenty of power left in them.

Can Batteries Explode or Be Damaged Using Them to Light a Fire?

Possible, but unlikely. Typically only explode when overcharged or when a spark is created near them if they are releasing hydrogen gas.

Lithium batteries can explode, as described above, but typically only when damaged or short-circuited.

Can I Use Batteries Normally After Starting a Fire with Them?

Yes, assuming they have a charge left. Any of the techniques described above will rapidly drain batteries of their power, so keep that in mind.

starting a fire with a battery pinterest

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Wilderness Survival Skills That Can Save Your Kids’ Lives 




Teaching children wilderness survival skills can be an enriching and empowering experience, fostering their confidence and independence while instilling a deeper connection with nature. However, it’s essential to prioritize safety and age-appropriate learning experiences when introducing children to outdoor skills. 

It’s important for a prepared parent to find age-appropriate wilderness survival skills for children. These skills should emphasize hands-on learning and the importance of supervision.

Shelter Building For Kids

Building a shelter is a fundamental survival skill that children can learn and practice under adult supervision. Start with simple shelter designs using natural materials such as branches, leaves, and tarps. Teach children how to assess their surroundings for suitable shelter locations and how to construct sturdy structures to protect against the elements.

Identifying Edible Plants For Kids

Teaching children to identify edible plants can enhance their foraging skills and knowledge of the natural environment. Begin by introducing them to a few common edible plants in your area, emphasizing safety and the importance of proper identification. Supervise children closely and guide them in harvesting and tasting edible plants responsibly.

Fire Safety and Fire Starting For Kids

While starting a fire may seem like an advanced skill, children can learn basic fire safety principles and techniques under adult supervision. Teach them about fire safety rules, including selecting a safe location, clearing the area of debris, and using proper fire-starting tools such as matches or fire starters. Demonstrate how to build a small fire and maintain it responsibly, emphasizing the importance of fire management and extinguishing techniques.

How Kids Can Signal for Help


In emergency situations, knowing how to signal for help can be a life-saving skill. Teach children basic signaling methods such as using a whistle, mirror, or brightly colored clothing to attract attention. Practice signaling techniques in a safe outdoor environment, and discuss the importance of staying calm and alert while waiting for rescuers to arrive.

Hands-On Learning Experiences

Encourage hands-on learning experiences to reinforce wilderness survival skills and build confidence in children. Plan outdoor activities such as nature hikes, camping trips, or wilderness outings where children can practice shelter building, plant identification, fire starting, and signaling for help under adult supervision. Provide opportunities for children to apply their skills in real-life scenarios, fostering a sense of self-reliance and problem-solving abilities.

Teaching children wilderness survival skills can be a rewarding and educational experience, fostering their appreciation for nature and their ability to thrive in outdoor environments. By introducing age-appropriate skills such as shelter building, plant identification, fire safety, and signaling for help, children can develop valuable life skills and a deeper connection with the natural world. Remember to prioritize safety and supervision, and encourage hands-on learning experiences to empower children to become confident and capable outdoor adventurers.

How do you teach your children survival and preparedness skills? Share your thoughts on how to teach children in the comments below. 

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Knife Skills for Preppers: Mastering Essential Techniques




In the realm of survival preparedness, few tools are as fundamental as the trusty survival knife. However, owning a high-quality knife is only half the battle; mastering essential knife skills is equally crucial for any prepper. This tutorial is designed to guide preppers through fundamental knife skills that will enhance their ability to navigate and thrive in diverse survival scenarios. 

From safe-cutting techniques to carving methods and practical tips for shelter building and food preparation, these skills will prove invaluable in the face of the unknown.

Safety First: The Foundation of Knife Skills

Before delving into specific techniques, understanding and prioritizing safety is paramount. Follow these foundational safety tips:

  • Proper Grip: Hold the knife with a firm yet comfortable grip. The index finger should wrap around the handle, ensuring control and preventing accidental slips.
  • Knife Inspection: Regularly inspect your knife for any damage, including chips or rust. A well-maintained blade ensures safer use.
  • Clear Workspace: Create a clean and organized workspace. Clear away debris and ensure good lighting to avoid accidents.
  • Body Positioning: Pay attention to your body positioning. Keep your non-dominant hand and fingers away from the cutting path to prevent injuries.

Basic Cutting Techniques: Building a Foundation

Next, it’s important to learn basic cutting techniques. Without knowing these cutting techniques, you have no chance of performing more advanced techniques with your knife. 

  • The Rocking Motion: Ideal for chopping and slicing, the rocking motion involves moving the knife’s blade back and forth while keeping the tip in contact with the cutting surface.
  • Draw Cutting: Drawing the knife towards you in a controlled manner is effective for precision cutting, especially when creating fine slices or making detailed cuts.
  • Tip Control: Mastering control over the tip of the knife is essential for intricate tasks. Practice guiding the tip with precision for accurate cuts.

Carving Methods: Precision in Action

A man is cutting mushroom with a knife.

Carving is one of the most important skill sets you can have with a knife. The basic carving methods are as follows:

  • Whittling: Whittling involves carving small, controlled cuts to shape wood or other materials. It’s a useful skill for crafting tools or creating tinder for fire starting.
  • Feathering: Feathering is a technique for creating fine curls of wood, often used in fire starting. It requires controlled slicing with the grain of the wood.
  • Notching: Notching involves carving small grooves or notches into materials, a skill useful for creating traps, shelters, or tools in a survival setting.

Practical Tips for Survival Scenarios: Beyond Cutting


Once you go beyond cutting, there are a number of things that you can use a knife for that will keep you alive in survival scenarios. 

  • Shelter Building: Use your knife to process materials for building shelters. Master techniques such as notching, carving stakes, and shaping branches for a secure and weather-resistant shelter.
  • Food Preparation: From gutting and filleting fish to processing game, a well-honed knife is essential for procuring and preparing food in a survival situation. Practice efficient and safe cutting techniques for various food sources.
  • Fire Starting: In addition to knives with built-in fire starters, use your knife to prepare firewood by splitting or feathering. Mastering these techniques ensures a reliable fire, a crucial element for survival.
  • Tool Crafting: A versatile knife can be used to craft essential tools in the wild. From fashioning cordage to carving simple implements, having a repertoire of tool-making skills broadens your capabilities in the field.

Continuous Improvement: Sharpening and Maintenance

Even the most skilled preppers need to maintain their knives for optimal performance. Regularly sharpen your knife using your preferred technique, whether it’s a whetstone, rod, or sharpening system. Keep the blade clean, dry, and well-oiled to prevent rust and maintain its longevity.

Knife skills are the unsung heroes of the prepper’s toolkit. By mastering essential techniques, preppers enhance their ability to navigate and conquer diverse survival scenarios. From safe-cutting practices to carving methods and practical tips for real-world applications, continuous improvement in knife skills is an investment in preparedness. 

As you embark on your journey to master the edge of survival, remember that the knife is not just a tool; it’s an extension of your capabilities, a versatile ally in the face of the unpredictable challenges that may lie ahead.

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Prepping with Kids: Teaching Your Children Survival Skills




In the world of prepping, involving the entire family is not just a practical decision—it’s an essential one. Teaching children survival skills not only imparts valuable knowledge but also fosters a sense of resilience and preparedness. Balancing age-appropriate information with practical skills is the key to making prepping a family affair. 

Getting Started Teaching Your Children About Survival Skills


Start with age-appropriate discussions about preparedness. Tailor the information to the child’s understanding, focusing on the importance of being ready for unexpected situations. Avoid instilling fear but rather emphasize the empowerment that comes with knowledge and preparation.

Conduct family emergency drills to make the learning experience tangible. Practice fire drills, evacuation procedures, and basic first aid. Make it a game by timing each drill and celebrating successful completion, turning what could be a stressful experience into a positive and empowering one.

Teach basic navigation skills through fun activities like treasure hunts or geocaching. Introduce the concept of using a compass or map, turning it into a game that enhances both navigation skills and the ability to communicate effectively in the wild.

Making Survival Skills an Adventure for Children

Plan family camping trips to teach children essential outdoor survival skills in a controlled environment. Teach them how to set up a tent, build a fire safely, and cook simple meals. Use this time to introduce concepts like Leave No Trace ethics and respecting nature.

Involve children in gardening and foraging activities to impart sustainable survival skills. Teach them about edible plants, gardening techniques, and the importance of self-sufficiency. This not only provides practical knowledge but also instills a sense of responsibility toward the environment.

Cooking can be an excellent way to teach children practical survival skills. Demonstrate how to prepare meals using non-perishable or long-lasting ingredients. Discuss food preservation methods like canning or dehydrating and involve them in the process.

Engage in do-it-yourself (DIY) projects that build preparedness tools. Create emergency kits together, incorporating age-appropriate items like a flashlight, whistle, or small first aid supplies. This not only imparts practical knowledge but also instills a sense of ownership over their preparedness.

Use Your Words to Teach Survival Skills to Children


Incorporate storytelling into the prepping process. Share survival stories, both fictional and real-life, to emphasize the importance of quick thinking, resourcefulness, and preparedness. Discuss the characters’ actions and decisions, encouraging critical thinking in different scenarios.

Create an open environment where children feel comfortable asking questions and expressing curiosity. Encourage them to share their thoughts on preparedness and discuss any concerns they might have. This fosters a preparedness mindset and reinforces the importance of ongoing learning.

Prepping with kids is not just about imparting survival skills; it’s about building resilient families. By balancing age-appropriate discussions with practical activities, families can turn the prepping journey into an engaging and empowering experience for children. 

From outdoor adventures to DIY projects, every activity becomes an opportunity to instill a sense of preparedness, responsibility, and the importance of working together as a family. As you embark on this journey, remember that teaching survival skills to children is not just about preparing for the unknown; it’s about shaping resilient, capable, and confident individuals who can navigate life’s challenges with strength and resourcefulness.

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