Top 5 Facts: Fire

Forest fire beyond a lake

Neolithic times

The earliest fire-making method consisted of twirling a pointed stick in a wooden block, creating an ember to light tinder. Iron pyrite rocks were also struck against flint.

Solar power

Using reflective surfaces to focus sunlight on tinder was known in ancient times. Experiments with mirrors/lenses were conducted to develop deadly weapons.


In the Middle Ages, it was found that a spark is created by striking steel and flint. The portable tinderbox caught the spark in tinder and then ignited a small piece of wood.

Friction matches

English chemist and apothecary John Walker sold the first friction matches in 1827. They could be ignited by striking the head of the match against any rough surface.

Safety matches

In 1844, Gustaf Erik Pasch developed the first safety match. The head contained potassium chlorate, reacting when struck against a surface coated with red phosphorus.