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It is a simple matter to light a fire with matches, but what do you do when you need a fire and no matches are available? It is a known fact that there is no single way to light a camp fire. Even so, the principals of lighting a fire are always the same.

If you are caught in the woods and need a fire but do not have matches, there are several ways you can still light a fire. The first thing you will need to do is look around you. If you are in a heavily wooded area, you will need to find a safe place for your fire. To prepare an area you will need to make sure it is cleared down to the dirt of all flammable items. Clear everything in a circle up to three feet or more from the center of where you plan to have your fire. If stones are available, place them in a circle around the fire site to further insure your safety. While to are gathering stones check for smaller stones that spark when struck together. If you find some, put them aside to help start your fire.

Next you will need to gather dried grass and small twigs to use as kindling. Dried pine needles, leaves and other dead plant materials work well. Then gather plenty of dried wood to keep the fire going once you have it started. There is nothing more frustrating than getting a fire going only to lose it while you are out searching for wood. Also be sure to gather some wood that is slightly green, if possible. This will burn longer once the fire is built up enough to start it. Place some of the grass, twigs, dry moss, lichen or other kindling in the center of your fire pit. Use a generous amount to get the fire started and you can add more to get a better flame. If you have found stones that will spark when struck together, take one in each hand. Holding them close to the kindling, continue to strike them briskly together until the sparks ignite the kindling. Gently blow on the area where the spark lands to aid with the ignition. Many people carry flint when hiking in the woods and this can be used by striking a pocket knife against it to make sparks. Other hard stones such as quartz, jasper, iron pyrite, agate and native jade will also work well to ignite a fire.

Another item that can be used to start your kindling is any type of magnifying glass. To start a fire in this manner, you will need plenty of sunlight. You can use an ordinary piece of glass, glass from binoculars, untinted eye glasses, watch crystals or water. If you find yourself in a situation where it is difficult to find rocks but there is plenty of water, try holding the crystals from two watches or pocket compasses that are about the same size back to back so the space between picks up the sun's reflections from the water. Direct this reflection to the tinder and wait patiently for the tinder to ignite. A piece of clear ice will also work well with this method. Simply shave the ice and smooth it with your hand until it clears.

Using a bow and drill you can fashion out of poplar, yucca, fir, red or white ceder, cotton wood or willow is another way to start a fire without matches. Simply fashion a bow using a piece of string and a slightly bent twig. The string should be long enough to loop around the drill. You will also need a piece of fire board. This should be very dry, dead wood. Another item you will need is a socket to hold the drill into the hollow in the fire board. This can be fashioned out of bark or wood by cutting away a center hole that will allow the top of the drill to be easily inserted and yet loose enough that it can move freely. Carve the socket into a circle that is easily held by two fingers. The drill should be a strong, straight stick with one end whittled to a point. Notch a hole in the fire board and singly wrap the string around the middle of the drill. Place the drill inside the notch in the fire board and holding the socket at the top of the drill between two fingers make a sawing motion working the bow back and forth. Make sure the drill is in direct contact with the fire board at all times. This is a tedious process but eventually the friction will cause the fire board to spark and glow. When this occurs, immediately add dried grasses. When the grasses begin to burn add small kindling and then your wood.