Starting a Fire with Steel Wool & 9V Battery! (in 3 steps)

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In a survival situation, getting a fire started can be the difference between life and death. I could go on and on about that, but I know that is pretty much common knowledge!

This method is quick and easy, so take notes!

It Works In WET Conditions

One of the great things about using steel wool and a battery is that the steel wool can be wet.

YES, you read that right. The steel wool can be wet and this method will still work. So after your matches have been soaked, you can still get a roaring fire going as long as you can gather up kindling.

Why does this work?

It is simple physics and making sure you get the right kind of steel wool. The steel wool has enough resistance and low enough heat capacity that it will ignite within a second of two.

The steel basically goes incandescent like a light bulb – so don’t touch it – it is HOT.

I mentioned that the kind of steel wool is key.

What Kind of Steel Wool Should I Use?

Get the finest steel wool you can find. Around my neck of the woods, that is the #00 or #000 grade. It is useful to have in your backpack when camping for cleaning so you may have it around anyway. You should toss a little pad in your Bug Out Bag for good measure.

Here are the steps

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  1. Get your kindling and tinder ready. You will need a pile of dry fuel that burns easily – no different than starting any other fire.
  2. Touch the battery contacts to the steel wool to complete the circuit. The steel wool will ignite and burn. Be sure not to touch the HOT metal or breath the fumes.
  3. Start feeding the fuel with kindling and blow gently on the igniting pile as you normally would for starting a fire.

What about other types of batteries?

You do have options in case you don’t have a 9V handy. We use the 9V since the terminals are next to each other and it is simple to complete the circuit.

You can use ANY battery that you have available, even a phone battery. So that includes:

  • C batteries
  • D batteries
  • AA batteries
  • AAA batteries
  • Car batteries
  • And so on…

You can pull apart the steel wool so it can reach the battery contacts. It is as simple as that.

Watch a Video Demo Below

See more demos using different battery types here.

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Meet the Author

'Mountain Man' John

'Mountain Man' John is a Survival and Preparedness enthusiast who loves everything outdoors. He has a passion for learning anything and everything to help sustain his and his families way of life post SHTF. He frequently shares his knowledge on a variety of topics from his hands on DIY projects, learning new skills such as hunting and trapping along with reviews on his Survival related purchases - Prepping has been in his family for generations, it's in his blood.