How to Create Fire With a Magnifying Glass

Two Methods:Standard magnifying glassFlat page magnifier variation

This article will teach you how to create a small fire with a magnifying glass. Make sure not to let the fire get out of control!

Method 1
Standard magnifying glass

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    Get some tinder such as newspaper.
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    Do this where where the fire cannot burn anything else but tinder. Suitable places include a cement sidewalk, an area of dirt with no vegetation surrounding it, a bricked in/rock ringed fire hole, etc.
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    Take a small piece of dry wood and put the edge of the newspaper on the edge of the wood.
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    Hold the magnifying glass in front of the sun so that a small bright dot will appear on the newspaper. Adjust as needed to get dot as small as possible. The dot has to be a circle as small as possible, or else it will take a long time.
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    Be patient. It may take up to 4 to 9 hours to actually get a flame (but it can be seconds if the sun is strong enough).
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    Put the fire out as soon as it moves from where you started it. You can stomp on it with your shoe or throw water on it.
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    Ensure that the area you put out is not hot enough to burn anyone or catch on fire again.

Method 2
Flat page magnifier variation

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    Use a flat page magnifier. This type is large and square like a sheet of paper. Although they usually don't have as much magnification, it's apparently the large surface area that makes it more efficient (it concentrates more solar energy on the target).
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    Focus the magnifier as small as possible. The concentrated image will be rectangular not round, so focus as best you can to make the focal point small.
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    Note that one side of a flat magnifier is ridged and the other side is smooth. It will work a little better if you hold it so that the smooth side faces the target.
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    Be careful of your own eyesight. It should also be noted that this large lens will make an extremely bright area (much more so then a standard round 2 or 3 inch round glass). So do not stare at the point of light.
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    Focus until it lights. Then follow the steps for a lit fire as explained in the previous method.


  • Black paper works better by absorbing heat via sunlight.
  • You can also use leaves, grass, dryer lint, or char cloth.
  • Have water nearby in case of an emergency.
  • You can use glasses to. Glasses are a great survival too right on your face.
  • A fire starting lens can be made from clear and flat ice by melting one side of a piece of it in the palm of your hand so that the melted side becomes rounded like a lens.
  • Try popping balloons with it.
  • Stay at safe distance from the fire when you're done.


  • Whatever you do, please wear sunglasses if you are looking at that tiny circle where the light is compressed, (the damage is permanent!)
  • Do not look at the sun with your magnifying glass.
  • Please, do not light your house on fire.
  • Don't hold the magnifying glass in such a way that it might burn you!
  • Make sure you do not burn yourself.
  • If you have a larger glass, avoid looking at the spot on the tinder as you are heating it, lest you permanently damage the retinas in your eyes!
  • After you put out the fire, if it's still smoking, stomp on it some more until it stops smoking.
  • Wear sunglasses so your eyes don't burn when locating the sun in the sky.
  • Wear ear defenders and safety goggles when popping balloons.

Things You'll Need

  • Magnifying glass
  • Paper
  • Sunlight
  • Water (To put out fire)
  • A small piece of wood
  • A brick (optional, keeps driveway from having burn marks)
  • Sunglasses (important!)

Article Info

Categories: Outdoor Fire Skills