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How to Start a Fire with a Battery

When you find yourself in an emergency situation, there is arguably no skill that is more important than the ability to start a survival fire. While having a fire starter kit can be helpful, you’re not always afforded that luxury. If you know how to start a fire with a battery, however, you’ll be able to create your own source of light, warmth, and energy in almost any circumstance.

Survival man is making a camp fire in the winter woods
Making a survival fire in the winter woods

Today, we’re going to show you exactly how to start a fire with a battery—equipping you with a few different techniques and a handful of helpful tips. Let’s get started!

How to Start a Fire With a Battery—7 Techniques

There are all sorts of techniques you can use to start a fire with a battery. Keep each of these methods tucked away and you’ll have a solution in any type of disaster or survival scenario!

Technique #1: AA Battery and Chewing Gum Foil

If you don’t have spare batteries in your survival kit, check items such as flashlights, remotes, and other battery-powered devices.

Next, you’re going to need a foil gum wrapper. If you have a pair of scissors on hand, cut the chewing gum wrapper into three equal-sized strips. You can also tear these segments with your hands—just do your best to keep the lines straight!

Then, cut each piece of foil into an hourglass shape, leaving roughly 1/16″ at the center. With these three pieces, you’ll have three opportunities to start your fire.

Carefully so that you don’t burn your fingers, wrap the foil side of the chewing gum wrapper around the battery so that the ends are touching the positive and negative terminals. Keep your dry tinder close by so you can quickly transfer your flame!

Technique #2: AA Battery, Ballpoint Pen, and Cotton Bud

There are all types of survival uses for a pen. Most people have a ballpoint pen lying around in their survival backpack or car. Along with a AA battery and a cotton bud, you have everything you need to start a fire with a battery.

Start by removing the spring from the pen and uncoiling it so that you’re left with a straight piece of wire. After fluffing out one end of the cotton bud, have the cotton bud ready in one hand while you touch the wire to the battery’s positive terminal.

Once the wire begins to glow, touch the cotton bud to the hot area of the wire and it should catch fire fairly quickly!

In an emergency, start a fire with a battery
In an emergency, start a fire with a battery

Technique #3: 9-Volt Battery and Steel Wool

You can get a fire started in no time with a 9-volt battery and a piece of steel wool. Keep in mind that there are different types of steel wool and the finest steel wool will be the easiest to light.

First, you’ll need to gather a bit of tinder. It can be a piece of paper, a tissue, or any other tinder material. Next, loosen up the steel wool in your hands.

All you need to do to start your fire is make sure that both the positive and negative terminals of the battery are making contact with the steel wool. As the steel wool begins to burn, just be sure to avoid inhaling the toxic fumes.

Once you have a spark, gently apply your dry tinder and your fire will start!

Technique #4: 9-Volt Battery and Light Bulb

While an incandescent bulb is most often used to light up a dark room, it can also generate an immense amount of heat that can be harnessed to start a fire with a battery.

First, wrap your entire glass bulb in a rag or cloth and carefully break the glass casing. Remove the small bulb from the debris. After gathering your dry tinder, simply touch both battery terminals to the base of the glass bulb.

When the tungsten filament begins to glow, all you need to do is press the clump of tinder against the bright filament!

Battery cables hooked to a battery
Battery cables and a car battery can be used to start a fire with a battery

Technique #5: Car Battery Direct

If you’re unable to find a small alkaline battery for your fire, you can also use a car battery. Keep in mind, however, that starting a fire with a car battery is a much riskier maneuver—one that you should only attempt as a last resort in a true survival scenario.

Whenever you attempt to start a fire with a car battery, you’ll need access to a pair of insulated gloves, jumper cables, and an earthing cable. First, put on your gloves and attach the battery’s negative terminal to the ground away from the battery.

Connect both jumper cables to the positive and negative terminals, and then step away from the battery before touching the ends together over your tinder!

Technique #6: Car Battery and Steel Wool

Just as you would start a fire using a 9-volt battery with steel wool, you can just as easily start a fire using a car battery.

First, connect your jumper cables to your battery’s positive and negative terminals. Without touching the ends of the cables together, step away from the battery until you are far from it.

When you have your steel wool and tinder ready, attach both ends to the steel wool and your fire should start immediately!

Technique #7: Car Battery and Pencil

To start a fire using a pencil and car battery, you’ll first need to splice the pencil with your survival knife so that the graphite is exposed.

Before attaching your jumper cables to the battery, attach them to each end of the pencil (making sure that they make contact with the graphite). Next, lay out all of your tinder so that it will catch fire as soon as a spark is generated.

Finally, attach the remaining ends of your jumper cables to the positive and negative terminals of your car battery. The pencil’s graphite will glow and the wood will catch fire!

How Is Fire Created?

In order for a fire to occur, three components need to be present—fuel, heat, and oxygen.

Because different types of fuel have different combustion points, you will need to make sure you can generate ample heat in order for that material to combust and create a spark.

When the spark catches and the fuel begins to burn, a flame is created. The flame consists of incandescent gases that emit light and warmth.

man making campfire
Making a fire

How to Start a Fire Safely

While it’s true that a fire can end up saving your life in a survival situation, it also has the potential to put you in danger.

Practice proper fire safety by always taking the following measures:

  • Wear safety gloves when handling hot surfaces.
  • Keep burn ointment on hand in case of an emergency.
  • Always start your fire far from trees, overhanging branches, and overly grassy areas.
  • Make sure that no vehicles or highly combustible materials are in the vicinity of your fire.
  • Keep a bucket of water nearby in case you need to extinguish the fire.

Can You Be Electrocuted While Starting a Fire With a Battery?

9-volt, AA, and AAA batteries don’t generate enough electricity to cause any significant harm. Even a car battery, while it may be capable of producing a stronger electrical current, isn’t likely to harm you via electrocution.

With that said, there are other risks to consider when working with a car battery. When a spark comes in contact with a car battery, it can cause the battery to explode and leak battery acid. This battery acid can cause a severe burn when it comes in contact with your skin. A short-circuited battery can even cause a cable to catch fire.

Start Your Own Fire in Any Scenario

If you know how to start a fire with a battery, you’ll be able to create an energy source at any time—one that could very well end up preserving your life.

Of course, it may take a few attempts before you’re fully comfortable starting a fire in an emergency situation. If you’d like to practice, just make sure you do so in a safe environment!