Outdoor AdviceWildlife Tips

How to Start a Fire with Rocks – A Camping Guide

Whether you need warmth or light up the cold dark nights in the woods or want to eat your foods hot in the wilderness, we always want to create a fire out there. If we tend to forget to bring a stove or some fire starters like a lighter, there’s no way for us to have any fire source. So, the best solution is to know how to start a fire with rocks. By doing so, we can able to cook food so that we have something to eat in the wild or we can also feel warm during the cold nights.

In this blog post, we unravel the process of starting up a fire by just using rocks. Check them all out below and if you are one of those survivalists and you want to practice this survival skill, this is your chance to do so.

How to Start a Fire with Rocks: Know the Basics

If there is an essential feature that should not be ignored in the campsite, it’s none other than the campfire. When we need to cook food in the middle of the wild or boil water, we usually start to make a campfire. Aside from that, a campfire is also helpful in keeping those flying insects away from the campsite. Another thing is that it can make you stay warm during the winter season.

Most backpackers and campers who are gearing to become survivalists and are fond of learning about different survival skills, creating a fire is an essential skill to learn. Generally, you may conclude that you already master the survival skill of creating a fire when you already know how to start a fire with rocks. Although there are other methods of fire creation available like the friction method through the use of woods, fire making with rocks is still the fastest method.

how to start a fire with rocks

Well, starting a fire with rocks also involves factors for considerations. One of these is the making of a tinder nest. Keep in mind that there are plenty of materials that you can use to be able to create excellent tinder to start a fire. The char cloth is another helpful tool along with the tinder nest. Normally, most campers and backpackers light up the char cloth before introducing it to the tinder nest to start a good burn.

Moreover, you also need to consider the appropriate type of rock that you will have to use in order to start a fire with rocks. As we go along, we will detail the steps needed on how to start a fire with rocks.

A Step-by-Step Guide on How to Start a Fire with Rocks

Are you ready to become a master of making a fire out of stones? Check the procedure below and be enlightened with our guide.

Step 1: Look for the appropriate rock

When you are new to camping or backpacking, starting a fire with stones will lead you from thinking about which types of rocks are needed in making a fire. Basically, starting a fire with rocks needs a particular type of rock and steel. Flint is the most common type of rock used for starting a fire. You can also use another type of rock that is included in the flint family, like agate, quartz, jasper, chert, or obsidian.

Although other stones also tend to be workable here provided that they feature high silica content which makes them harder compared to carbon steel. Striking a piece of high-carbon steel against the rock will result in sparkling. Eventually, as the char cloth will be ignited, the tinder nest around it will also be ignited as well. This method of starting a fire with rocks is popularly known as the flint and steel method.

Moreover, you may also consider striking two rocks from the flint family together. By doing that, you can also produce a spark. However, the process tends to be more difficult.

Hard flint rocks can be commonly found within the camping site, already dried riverbeds, or within the river banks. Always remember that the rocks must be broken into smaller flint pieces. They should have sharp edges to create a great spark.

Step 2: Collect tinder

how to start a fire with rocks

Just like what we’ve mentioned earlier, you can find a number of materials in making the tinder nest. And, another good thing about it is that those materials are readily found within the environment or your camp tent surrounding. The most common tinder materials are moss, pine straw, tree bark, small sticks that have whittled down, and the leaves.

Cattails which are generally tall reed-like plants having a distinct cylindrical flower on the stalk are also great options as tinder material. This is highly ideal in building up a tinder nest close to the wetlands, ponds, and other bodies of water.

Drying out wet tinder

There may be times that you will have to find some tinder that is soaked in water or totally waterlogged. Usually, these materials are much heavier compared to the dry ones. In case you find them, consider drying them out to allow the ignition to take place. A spare shirt or towel can be used in drying out the wet tinder.

Wet wild moss can be dried out by wringing them out. Afterward, wrap them within the spare clothes or towel. The next step is to lay the bundle within the flat surface of a durable substance like hard rock. But, remember to make smaller rocks and strike up the bundle.

Actually, this may sound a little bit odd but the method is a good choice in squeezing out the moisture from the fuel. That way it will be absorbed by the t-shirt and eventually generates heat. The friction resulted from stone-on-stone interaction generally helps in drying out the tinder.

Another good hack is to dig a hole on the soil until you reach the dry one. This is actually applicable for those who do not have a shirt or towel. Bury the wet tinder material in the dry soil hole that you dig. Using a stone, hit the soil at the top portion through kindling just like the t-shirt process.

Step 3: Make a tinder nest

Actually, the tinder nest is really easy to build. The key here is the ignition of the tinder bundle which will afterward transfer to the next round of small sticks. Below are the steps in making a tinder nest that will burn out to start a fire.

  1. After gathering all the materials for the tinder nest, it is time to roll them over the back and forth of a portion of the hands. This is also a friction process that is also helpful in making the tinder rougher. Aside from that, this will also dry out some bits of dampness.
  2. Form the tinder bundle into a sphere shape like a snowball.
  3. Make a depression within the middle of the tinder bundle using the thumbs. The resulting product should be a concave shape at the center. This usually resembles the appearance of the bird’s nest.
  4. Put all the lightest material at the center portion. Also, place all the highly flammable fire starters in the middle. These generally include cattails and pine straw. Char cloth must be over the lightest material in the middle of the tinder nest.
  5. Gently stroke the tinder bundle so that it will not become too compact. Moreover, there should be a space to let the air get into it to grow and breathe the fire.

Step 4: Construct your preferred fire layout

how to start a fire with rocks

Campfires generally come in various shapes and sizes. With that, it also involves the campers’ style of choice. Yet, the most essential thing to remember is to ensure that the oxygen can penetrate into the center of the fire. That way, the fire can burn up brighter and continue to thrive for the flame.

Initially, before constructing a campfire shape there should need to have a fire bed in first place. Collect some dirt and pile it up for around 3 to 4 inches tall. That will be the spot where you can place the campfire. To make sure that the campfire will be bright as it burns, creates any of the following popular fire layouts:


When you opt to construct the teepee formation, keep in mind that the tinder nest should be placed in the middle of the teepee. It is actually better to make a space or any gap to let the tinder nest get inside the teepee. This is how to create a teepee shape campfire:

  1. Get small sticks and other kindling.
  2. Lean two pieces of the small sticks on each other.
  3. Continue doing the kindling against the end tip of the other pieces of small sticks. Make sure that they follow a circle until it creates a conical shape.
  4. Using the larger pieces of wood, repeat the process from the beginning.

Take note that the teepee formation is not stable in holding up. However, it doesn’t call for worry as you can stack additional fuel logs over the top.


When you compare this campfire layout, this tends to be faster and easier to construct. This is not ideal in windy environmental weather conditions. However, if you can put on some wind protection or cover at the early stages, this will still work out.

  1. Lay down small sticks on the ground.
  2. Angle it at around 30 degrees gearing toward the wind.
  3. Moreover, place large blocks of wood underneath it resulting in a tilted stick leaning position over larger woods.
  4. Place the tinder nest below the support stick. It should also be surrounded by other small sticks or other kindling.
  5. Lean the larger pieces of wood over the tinder nest and the kindling.

Actually, this is a variation of the teepee formation campfire. This is generally ideal in case you need a bigger fire. To achieve this campfire layout, follow these steps:

  1. Basically, create a teepee formation but make sure that it is not that large. This will only serve as a teepee for the kindling nest.
  2. On either side of the kindling nest, put on two pieces of wood and another two perpendiculars traversing from one of the initial two pieces of wood. The result should be a two-level square.
  3. Continue doing the process for some more levels until you create a cube.

Step 5: Start a fire with rocks and steel

Now that you have the fire layout, it is time to start creating a fire. Here are the steps on how to start a fire with rocks:

  1. Initially, strike the high-carbon steel over a rock to make sparks.
  2. Let the sparks land over the char cloth. Once achieved, the char cloth will immediately ignite.
  3. As soon as the char cloth catches the fire, blow over the tinder nest.
  4. Afterward, hold up the tinder nest using your hands. Continue blowing until the tinder catches fire.
  5. Supplant the tinder nest on the entire fuel to begin creating a brilliantly flaming campfire.

Frequently Asked Questions


A: Historically, this is one of the primitive ways of making out a fire. However, rubbing two stones together cannot usually create a fire. They will just heat up similar to that of the wood because stones do not have the ability to burn out.


A: Rubbing two pieces of rocks against each other results in breaking away the stone’s mineral grains from the surface of the rock. In the case of landslides where rocks glide from one another as they move down the hill, rock abrasion generally occurs.


A: Soapstone is basically natural stones that have high energy density. They also feature great thermal conductivity. Together with marble, these stones can highly absorb a large amount of heat in a quick phase. Moreover, some granites are good conductors of heat, yet not good in storing up the heat.

Final Words

The way on starting a fire with rocks is actually good for most survivalists who are aiming to survive in the middle of the woods, especially during emergency situations. The good news is that the process of doing so is not really a complicated one. However, you should have to take caution on making a fire in some places or states. Always remember that there are campsite locations where gathering firewood is an illegal act.

Moreover, the flint and steel method remains the faster and easier way in starting out a fire. Just strictly follow all the steps indicated above so that you will master this kind of survival skill. That way, you will have the opportunity to stay warm over there outdoor.