How-To: Start a fire with your cellphone

Computers & Mobile
How-To: Start a fire with your cellphone


With backpacking season upon us, the Survival Skills series on the Backpacker site caught my eye. Their newest skill is how to start a fire in the backcountry with your cellphone battery, some steel wool, and tinder. Simple enough, but worth sharing. You never know when the skill may come in handy for survival … or for solving the next installation of Makeshift. Check out the vid:

YouTube player

Other Survival Skills videos cover surviving a bear attack (hilarious reenactment with a guy in a bear suit), treating broken bones, and putting together a homemade survival kit (that looks pretty darn good). Also check out their tutorials on how to fix your gear.

12 thoughts on “How-To: Start a fire with your cellphone

  1. WebSkeptic says:

    Wouldnt conserving your cellphone battery in the backcountry be an equal priority?

  2. actualbackpacker says:

    As a wilderness first responder and professional mountain guide I can say that it is a pretty safe bet that no actual backpackers carry steelwool and many don’t carry a cell phone. But for this to be a remotely useful tip for real backpackers (as opposed to ones in magazines) they would have to figure out how to do this with stuff we might really have in our packs.

  3. K.T. Stevenson says:

    Depending on what type of battery your cell phone uses, this could be quite dangerous. Lithium ion batteries have a nasty habit of violently igniting or exploding when short circuited. While there is a lot less stored energy in a cell phone battery than in a laptop battery, short circuiting lithium ion batteries is generally a bad idea. So, save this one for true emergencies and don’t hold the battery in your hand.

  4. hurf durf says:

    If you have the forethought to bring steel wool, why don’t you just bring three lighters?

  5. Mike says:

    Save your cellphone battery for emeergency contact, just take a knife and magnesium fire starter with you. And/or waterproof matches. Be prepared :)

  6. n7tcf says:

    The worst forest fire in Arizona was started by a ‘stranded’ motorist. Search “Rodeo-Chediski Fire” Lasted three weeks and burned nearly half a million acres.

    Fires have very limited uses.

    Your choice:
    1)Be prepared.
    2)Don’t go

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I'm a word nerd who loves to geek out on how emerging technology affects the lexicon. I was an editor on the first 40 volumes of MAKE, and I love shining light on the incredible makers in our community. In particular, covering art is my passion — after all, art is the first thing most of us ever made. When not fawning over perfect word choices, I can be found on the nearest mountain, looking for untouched powder fields and ideal alpine lakes.

Contact me at or via @snowgoli.

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