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How To Start A Campfire Without Lighter Fluid Step By Step

how to start a fire without lighter fluid
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Today we are going to talk about how to start a campfire without lighter fluid. To be 100% honest with you, I had no idea there were as many people out there starting campfires with lighter fluid. I have been camping my entire life and have built way too many campfires to count. We also have fires out in my backyard area and I usually use the same methods for building that fire as I do my campfires. 

I don’t intend this to be a survival article teaching you how to start a fire if your stranded in the woods. We won’t be talking about using a bow drill or any other extreme fire making. This is focused on how to start a campfire without using any lighter fluid. I’m going to be discussing a few different ways that range in difficulty, but nothing I share today is super hard to do. 

how to start a campfire without lighter fluid

I’m going to give you the quick and easy answer to how to start a campfire without lighter fluid. Make sure you have good dry tinder, wadded up newspaper, dry leaves, pine needles, wood shavings. You will also want good dry kindling. Use either the teepee or lean-to method to build your fire. Start your tinder and watch your fire go up in flames! For more details on how to do a REALLY good job of all this, keep reading!

How To Start A Fire Without Lighter Fluid

It’s actually much easier than most people think to start a fire without any kind of lighter fluid or gasoline. I’ll share a method today that does use some cooking spray but other than that we will not be using flammable liquids to start the fire. 

Also, when I’m finished going over the ways to start a fire without lighter fluid, head to the bottom to see some tips on how to have the most success with starting a campfire. If your new to campfires or this is the first time the fire responsibility has landed on your shoulders don’t worry, we will have you looking like a survival boss! 

You can also check out how to keep a tent warm with these awesome tent heaters! 

Tent Heaters Reviewed

Best Campfire Starters Without Lighter Fluid

Before we dig too deep into the how lets take a look at some simple fire starter items you can use to start your fire. Most of these you just light and add wood. This will be your easiest solution to starting a fire without lighter fluid. I’m going to show you how to build the perfect fire below, but consider using some of these items below to make it basically fool proof. Just click the item to see the price and reviews on Amazon! 

Ever considered camping int he back of a truck? If so, check out my guide below on how to do it right! 

Camping In A Pickup Truck Bed

Last update on 2024-05-15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

3 Steps To Start A Campfire

Lets get to it! The steps outlined below are important regardless of what type of fire you choose to build. Following these steps and being prepared will give you the most success in starting a great campfire without lighter fluid. 

Step 1: Be Prepared By Having The Right Tools

The best way to have the most success with starting a great campfire is just being prepared. If you have the right tools starting a campfire is incredibly easy! One of the most important elements to starting a perfect campfire is what you use at the beginning. 


Tinder can be small items that burn easily to help the fire get started. Some examples of tinder are as follows. 

  • Wadded up paper (News paper works the best)
  • Commercial fire sticks or starters which I listed up above for you.
  • Pitch from nearby trees.
  • Wax
  • Dryer lint.
  • Small wood shavings. 
  • Small twigs
  • Dry leaves
  • Cotton balls or cotton swabs.
  • Dry pine needles.
Personally, I usually use newspaper as it works the best for me. But if I have some on hand I’ll throw in some dry leaves or grass as they work really well. 
tinder to start a campfire
Different tinder I use. We mostly use the wadded up newspaper.


If you are hiking and in the woods you will need to find small branches or twigs to use as kindling. If you are camping with firewood you will want to cut one of your fire logs down to small pieces of wood. The smaller the better for getting the fire going. 

Use your best burning and driest wood for kindling. This will be the beginning of your fire, it’s time to get out your best stuff. If you know your wood and have a piece of cedar, this works really well as kindling. It burns faster than other firewood, but it’s great as a fire starter. 


This will be the star of the campfire all night long. It’s best to have dry wood but once you get a really nice fire going, even wet wood will dry and burn. When starting your fire, use your driest wood. 

Also, I strongly suggest that you cut about 10 pieces that are slightly larger than your kindling. The smaller the wood size the easier it will burn. Usually once you go through those 10 pieces, the normal sized firewood will take off. At this point the fire is pretty big and should be going well. 

As a general rule of courtesy to the forest, try to make sure your not breaking branches off trees for your campfire. If everyone did this, there would be no more branches. On top of that, downed wood is typically drier than alive wood right off a branch. 

Matches or Lighter:

You are going to need the fire to come from somewhere. Matches are great but a lighter is even better. I personally use small butane torch. I like  using this as the flame keeps up even when it’s a little windy. Normal matches and lighters can easily blow out. The torch isn’t much heavier than a lighter and fits easily into my backpacking bag or camping bag. 

Check out some of the torch style lighters below. I have one of the basic ones but after checking these out on Amazon, I might need to purchase a new one! I like the Zippo! Click any to see price and reviews. 

Zippo 65827 Butane Lighter Insert - Double Torch, 1.4'L x 0.5'W x 2.1'Th
Zippo 65827 Butane Lighter Insert - Double Torch, 1.4"L x 0.5"W x 2.1"Th
Genuine Zippo Single Torch Insert; Push-button piezo ignition; Adjustable blue flame height; Heats up to 2,300°F/ 1,260°C
Vertigo by Lotus Cyclone Triple Torch Cigar Lighter Charcoal 2 Pack
Vertigo by Lotus Cyclone Triple Torch Cigar Lighter Charcoal 2 Pack
Vertigo by Lotus Cyclone Triple Torch Cigar Lighter Charcoal 2 Pack; Wind Resistant 3 Torch Flame
Zippo Butane Fuel, 135ml
Zippo Butane Fuel, 135ml
135ml; For use with candle lighters, flex necks, and outdoor utility lighters; Universal tip fuels all leading butane lighters

Last update on 2024-05-15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Step 2: Build The Fire

Now that you are well equipped with tinder, kindling, firewood and a match or lighter you are ready to put it all together to make a campfire, no lighter fluid needed. You do have options here though, I’m going to go over 2 different types of campfire styles for you to try out. Check them out below and see which one you like best!

Teepee Fire:

The teepee style is probably the most popular but not the one I always use. I will admit it’s probably the easiest to get the fire started. You simply arrange your tinder in the firepit or ring and stack your kindling in a teepee over your tinder. Once the tinder is lit, the flames will reach the kindling and light it on fire. You usually follow through but stacking your firewood over the kindling in the same teepee fashion. 

This works great and will likely be the easiest and most effective way to get a fire going. 

teepee campfire with newspaper tinder
Example of a teepee campfire.

Lean-To Fire:

You want to get a block of wood or a log and set it in the fire pit. You will want to set it closer to the side rather than right in the middle. Then take your tinder and put it next to the log. Put your kindling over the tinder with one end in the firpit and one end leaning over the block of wood or log. 

This method gets the wood off the tinder and allows the flames to come up and start the wood on fire. 

how to start a campfire lean-to fire
Example of a lean-to fire.

Step 3: Start The Fire

Now that your fire is built, it’s time to light the fire. Take your lighter or match and light the tinder. Whether you used the teepee or lean-to method the tinder should take off and start flaming. Once the flames reach the wood, you should have take off. 

As long as you used good tinder and good dry wood, you should be good to go! 

Safety Tips For Campfires

One of the most important things when starting a campfires is to make sure you are being safe. The last thing you want is to start a campfire and put peoples lives in danger. It’s very important to be responsible with campfires. Follow the safety guidelines below to help you with that! 

Is The Campfire Site properly prepared? Do you have a proper fire pit? There should also be 8-10 feet of bare ground surrounding your fire pit. Make sure there are no over head tree branches that could catch on fire. 

Make sure and take observation of weather conditions. High winds can make a campfire very dangerous. Winds can turn a small fire into a large blaze quickly. 

Are campfires allowed? Make sure you check the campfire conditions to ensure that campfires are allowed in the area you are trying to light it. You can usually check with the ranger station or camp host. 

Make sure to have a few gallons of water close by in case the fire gets out of hand. Dirt can also put fire out quickly if something catches fire. 

How To Start A Campfire Tips And Tricks

I wanted to give you some great campfire tips that will help you start and keep your fire burning for hours and hours! 

  • Make sure you have great tinder and dry kindling to get your fire started. 
  • When adding wood to the fire make sure the wood starts small and gets progressively bigger. The smaller the wood the better it will burn. 
  • Don’t add too much wood. Fire needs oxygen, if you block the oxygen from getting it the fire won’t be able to get going. 
  • Get your lungs ready or have a bellow handy. Blowing on the coals of the fire is a sure fire way to get the blaze going again. 
  • Get some good fire gloves. This makes it easy to make adjustments and mess with your fire without getting burns. 
  • Keep wood on the fire and don’t let it get too low. You can always recover a low fire with some oxygen, but if you just keep wood on it you won’t have to! 
  • To avoid smoke use dryer wood. The wetter the wood the more smoke it will produce. 
  • Always have a good lighter or good matches. 
  • You can always use PAM or other cooking sprays to help the tinder burn longer. 
kindling and wood for campfire without lighter fluid
The left is normal sized chopped wood. The middle is the smaller sized wood that I use to get the fire going. The right is kindling.

How To Start A Campfire Without Lighter Fluid Conclusion

I hope this helped you understand how to start a campfire without using lighter fluid. If you prepare and use the methods I showed you above you will never need to use lighter fluid again! 

If this article was helpful, please give us a share on your favorite social media platform! It means more to us than you could possibly know! 

1 thought on “How To Start A Campfire Without Lighter Fluid Step By Step”

  1. My husband, obviously not a Boy Scout, insisted just tonight that we had to have lighter fluid. I told him the pioneers didn’t, and I didn’t think the Boy Scouts did either. Sure enough–cooking oil works just fine, soaking the newspaper in the beginning. Or any of your methods, which are super in addition.

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