A battery might not be your preferred option for starting a fire. Nevertheless, learning to start a fire with different battery types is a survival skill that can see you through emergencies like being lost or stuck in the woods.
In most cases, you will need a tinder like dry wood or paper to aggravate the fire, an alkaline battery, or a lithium battery. It is their terminals that initiate the conduction necessary for starting the fire.
This guide will teach you how to start a fire with different types of batteries.
7 Ways You Can Start a Fire With a Battery
You can start a fire with an AA battery, a 9-volt battery, and a lithium battery. Here are the various methods you can choose from:
1. AA battery and chewing gum foil
For this technique to be successful, you need an AA battery, scissors, and a foil gum wrapper. An AA battery can be found in remote controls or baby toys. Once you have it, cut the chewing gum wrapper into three pieces with the scissors.
This gives you three shots at starting a fire. Wrap the AA battery with the foil side of the chewing gum wrapper and ensure both the positive and negative terminals are in contact with the foil.
This contact will create a glow. Get your dry tinder and wood closed and transfer your flame. The quantity of tinder used will determine how much fire you wish to start.
2. AA battery, ballpoint pen, and cotton bud
You can also start a fire if you are fortunate enough to have a ballpoint pen, an AA battery, and a cotton bud in the woods. All you need to do is remove the wavy spring in the pen, straighten it, and it becomes as good as a piece of wire.
Discard cotton from one end of the cotton bud and prepare it for inflammation. Touch the positive terminal of the AA battery with the straight spring and wait until it becomes hot and starts to glow.
At this point, touch the glowing area with the cotton bud and fire should ensure quickly because cotton bud is fire-friendly. You can include other dry tinders to increase the fire.
3. 9-volt battery and steel wool
Using a 9-volt battery and steel wool to start a fire is similar to an AA battery, ballpoint pen, and cotton bud approach. In this case, you will use steel wool, which is the best for creating fire.
You also need to gather some dry paper, tissue, or other tinder. Loosen the steel wool and make sure it comes in contact with the positive and negative terminals of the 9-volt battery.
Once the steel wool becomes extremely hot, it will start to burn. At this stage, all you need to do is introduce your tinder. While doing this, please ensure that you are not inhaling any toxic fumes from the reaction.
4. 9-volt battery and incandescent bulb
This method relies heavily on a bulb’s filament. It would be best if you first broke the bulb to start a fire with a 9-volt battery and an incandescent bulb. The safest way to do this is by gently wrapping a rag or thick cloth around the bulb before breaking it.
The goal is to break the glass casing, not the filament. Once that is successful, remove and properly dispose of the debris. Gather your dry tinders and connect the bulb to the positive and negative terminals of the 9-volt battery.
At this point, the filament should start to glow. Once you notice this, gently place your tinders against the bright filament and watch fire ensue.
5. Car battery and jumper cables
In cases where all you have is a car (lithium) battery, not an alkaline one, starting a fire is still possible. However, this option is risky and should only be attempted as a last resort, preferably in a life-threatening scenario.
For this process, you will need a pair of thick and insulating gloves, jumper cables, and an earthing cable aside from the car battery. With your gloves on, connect the battery’s negative terminal to the ground, away from the battery.
Connect the jumper cables to the positive and negative ends of the battery. Distancing yourself from the battery before joining their ends over your head is a good idea.
6. Car battery and steel wool
This technique follows almost the same principle as that of a 9-volt battery and steel wool. The only difference is the need for jumper cables connecting with the battery’s positive and negative terminals.
Prepare your steel wool and tinder, and attach the other end of the number cables to these materials. Before taking this final, ensure you are reasonably far from where the reaction and fire will occur.
7. Car battery and pencil graphite
To start a fire using a pencil and car battery, you need the help of the graphite in pencil. The only way to do this is to split the pencil using a knife in your survival kit.
Once you have the graphite, the next step is to connect one end of the jumper cables to it and place your tinder on it. Then, proceed to connect the other end of the jumper cables to the positive and negative terminals of the car battery.
As always, maintain a safe distance, watch the graphite glow, and create fire alongside the tinder.
Can a hot battery start a fire?
Yes, a hot battery can start a fire if its internal temperature reaches a critical level.
A battery exposed to a very high internal temperature won’t just become hot–thermal runaway will occur at some point and damage the battery or set it on fire.
Can batteries catch fire by touching?
Connecting a battery’s positive and negative terminals to a material with very low resistance may result in a fire.
However, when this occurs in materials like metal, fire is not the result–just a flow of energy from the battery.
What to do with overheating AA batteries?
Pour large amounts of water on the overheating battery before submerging it in a container filled with water.
Starting a fire with a battery is a skill you can use in emergencies or when you do not have a matchstick or lighter.
In most cases, the process requires generating enough heat energy (from connecting with the positive and negative terminal of a battery) to lighten up tinders.
Making a fire with an AA and a 9-volt battery is less dangerous than the lithium (car) battery options. This is because the fumes car batteries generate are more toxic.
I hope you found this article helpful. Need help with the different ways you can identify battery terminals? Check out my guide on how to identify the positive end of a battery.
Thanks for reading.