SURVIVAL HOW-TO: Start A Fire With An EMPTY Lighter

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It’s the stuff of nightmares for anyone who finds themselves in a survival situation. You need to start a fire as quickly as possible. Maybe you’re soaking wet from a fall rainfall and need to warm up and dry out your clothes. Maybe you’ve been hiking all day and you need to get a fire going for your dinner. Maybe your friend has fallen through the ice and you need to get a big roaring fire going NOW to save their life. You’ve got your tinder ready, your kindling together, you’ve got logs ready to go. All you need is the ignition source. You pull out your trusty gas station Bic lighter.

*Flick flick flick*


Your lighter is EMPTY. What are you going to do? Don’t worry, we’ve got you. Check out this pro tip from master of survival Dave Canterbury. He calls it one of his “Pro Tips.”

The nuts and bolts of the process is surprisingly simple and makes an empty lighter only slightly less useful than a brand new one.

Step one: Use a knife or some kind of edged tool to scrape small shavings from the side of the lighter body the end result should be about a quarter-sized piece of very fine plastic shavings. This is going to be a source of fuel when combined with the next step.

Step two: Holding the lighter tightly, gently move the circular striker back and forth on the flint rod so as to shave very fine ferrocium powder that will collect at the top of the lighter body. You will then tap this dust out onto your plastic shavings making it much more combustible. You do NOT want to grind the rod down completely because you still need to strike it to get your initial spark.

Step three: Use the sparks from the lighter to ignite your small plastic/flint pile and then quickly bring your tinder and kindling over the burning bundle.

Congratulations! You’ve just made fire with an empty lighter! Add this to your repertoire of fire skills and you’ll never have to worry about pulling out an empty lighter again!

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