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5 Ways to Start a Fire with Water

5 Ways to Start a Fire with Water

A crucial skill to have in practically any emergency situation is knowing how to build a fire. Whether you get lost overnight on a ski trip or your car runs out of gas as you pack up to leave your campsite, knowing how to build a fire and stay warm could save your life.

So what’s the best way to build a fire? “Building” a fire typically comes in three stages: gather the materials, lay the fire, and then start it. Check out our Insight Article to learn “How to Build a Fire” using these three stages.

However, in an emergency situation, there’s one other item that could actually help you start a fire that many overlook—water. It’s true. Grant Thompson, from thekingofrandom.com, shows five ways you can start a fire using water. Check it out:

There you have it: five ways water can start a fire. Four of Thompson’s five fire starting methods show you how to use water as a magnifying glass to spark a fire, letting the power of the sun do all the work (or at least a lot of it!). But e But B ven if there’s cloud cover, you aren’t out of luck. With just a few supplies you can still ignite a fire in seconds.

If you plan to use water to help you start a fire in an emergency, make sure to add the following supplies to your emergency gear so you are completely prepared.

Method 5:

  • A light bulb. Make sure your bulb has been rinsed and cleaned according to Thompson’s directions. Cushion the bulb with fabric, grocery sacks, or other forms of padding to keep it from breaking and place it in a small container before you put it in your emergency supplies.
  • A balloon to cap off the end of the light bulb after you’ve filled it with water

Method 4

  • Plastic wrap
  • A bowl

Method 3

  • Plastic wrap
  • A picture frame

*For this method, make sure you have a way to securely attach the plastic wrap to the frame and to heat water.

Method 2

  • A juice bottle (that looks like a bubble) filled with water

Method 1

  • Toilet paper
  • Toilet paper roll
  • Small chunks of sodium
  • Jar lid


Caution! Playing with fires is dangerous so make sure to have proper safety gear (a fire extinguisher, goggles, and leather gloves) with you when practicing these new ways to start a fire. Also, make sure to light fires in a cleared area away from flammable objects or dry grass.

These are some fun, unique methods you can use to start a fire, but don’t forget about the traditional methods as well. Adding items such as the Sparkie, the P-25 Strike Master or FiredUp! firestarters to your emergency supplies are reliable ways to get a roaring fire and warmth fast. (Or, taking a hint from Thompson, how about a magnifying glass?)





10 thoughts on “5 Ways to Start a Fire with Water ”

  • Sonny Winters

    Where do you get the sodium?

  • Rick

    The best method for starting a fire with water is to drink the water and rehydrate yourself, then use a magnesium bar, magnifying glass (who puts a lightbulb into an emergency kit??), fire piston, matches, lighter, or other method to start the fire.

  • JustGottaKnow
    JustGottaKnow April 5, 2014 at 4:02 pm

    BEPREPARED, I really doubt table salt is a substitute for Sodium! When I cook Elbows or hard boil eggs, I throw salt in the water, it simply changes the boiling point, and taste's good. Sodium dropped in water has a VERY VIOLENT & DANGEROUS reaction, as shown in the video. I couldn't imagine the heartburn from injesting Sodium! Mis-information is dangerous and could prove deadly if relied on for survival in an emergency.

    • beprepared

      Good catch. I've done further research and have found that table salt will typically put fires out and not get them started. Sorry for any misinformation and thank you for helping me to correct that. As I said in the last comment, I suggested going to Google shopping and doing a search for "sodium" to find and buy sodium chunks. But this is all I could find. Do you have any other suggestions of where to find sodium chunks for fire starting?

  • Joseph Westfal
    Joseph Westfal April 7, 2014 at 11:43 am

    Anyone who would risk carrying "chunk" sodium has never had a chemistry class! It is a restricted material with explosive rating..!
    If you can carry anything , you can carry some extra water-proof matches. The magnifying glass is an absolute essential and will last forever, relatively durable and cheap. I still have my first one in a small leather swivel case from elementary school. (3 inch model) A Bic liquid fuel lighter is easily stored as well.
    It might be fun to be creative in fire starting but there are other essential skills that would serve you much better.

    • beprepared

      This is a good point to bring up about the sodium. In all of my research, I saw the same information. Sodium is a dangerous material to carry around as well. This is why it is hard to find and is mainly distributed to scientists. So this raises a new question for starting a fire with water: Is it worth it? Ron and Rick are saying no. What does everyone else think? What are some other ways of starting fires without matches that are safe and don't require a lot of extra supplies to carry? What have you guys found?

  • RonGriffin

    I am always amused at all the methods of starting fires that are suggested from the age old sticks and stones to chemicals. All of which weigh a lot more than a few Bic lighters. The only reason to carry things like water proof matches and chemicals is for use in making improvised explosives and incendiaries. Other wise I am perfectly happy to have a 1/2 dozen bic's in my emergency kits along with some magnesium chips for kindling. If I am dropped out in the wilderness naked without anything at all, the chances of having any of the items listed in this article are slim and none. And I agree with Rick. Drink the water and scout for a simple method.

  • Northwoods Cheryl
    Northwoods Cheryl April 8, 2014 at 9:56 am

    If you use lighters, remember, even if they run out of fuel, they still produce a useable SPARK, which can be infinitely useful in firestarting. Personally, I use flint and steel. I practiced by lighting my wood burner all winter several years ago using this method.

  • RonGriffin

    There are a couple of simple methods of making fire such as using a 9V battery and steel wool, or even by taking a AA battery apart. Or if you have a vehicle and the battery still has a charge you can make a fire with a wire or coat hanger. (In case the cigarette lighter does not work LOL). I have heard the old style coke bottle bottoms will work as magnifiers, but I have never tried it. All might be a solution IF you found yourself without a lighter or matches. But if you are trying to be prepared, I still have not found anything as simple as a bic lighter. They last forever and as Cheryl said they still spark after running out of fuel. I carry no less than 6 in my BOB. I keep them in different places. I also have a belt pouch that is separate from the bag and it has 3 more. In a pinch I would put one in each pants pocket along with a light and knife just in case I had to run without my bags. And they are cheap. And BTW, I heard a rumor that you can use them to light cigarettes LOL.

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