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How to Make Fire With a Lemon – Fact or Fiction?

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When SHTF, sometimes we need to get creative and make fire with a lemon! Have you seen the viral video going around that shows someone starting a fire with a lemon?

We have the video for you below so you can give it a watch if you haven’t seen it already. It tends to make its rounds on the internet from time to time and for good reason – it’s really cool looking.

So maybe you’re asking yourself now, “Does it really work?” Can I really start a fire with a lemon?

Well, we wanted to test the theory and we also wanted to test whether or not it’s practical to use this fire-starting method when you’re actually in an emergency or survival situation. Follow along if you want to try it with us.

While you may not have all of these items on hand, I just wanted to show you what you can do with items you may be able to scavenge and a little ingenuity (MacGyver anyone?).

Like the old adage says; when life gives you lemons, make fire with a lemon… or is it lemonade? Maybe we should stick with lemonade.

If you want to give this a shot and try to make fire with a lemon, here’s what you will need:


  • a lemon
  • 6 copper clips
  • 6 zinc nails
  • a piece of wire
  • steel wool

Now that you’ve gathered all of your materials, you’re ready to begin.

We’re moving forward to test our theory but now would be a great time to think about whether or not this would actually be practical in a survival situation. Will you have these supplies on hand?

Make Fire With a Lemon

Step 1

First, you will want to soften the lemon. Why? Honestly, I’m not sure… perhaps to get the juices and acids flowing.

Next, you will want to insert each of the 6 copper clips into the lemon in a row along the length of the lemon. Make sure they don’t touch each other inside the lemon.

Step 2

Once the clips are in, repeat the process with the zinc nails. Place the nails about 3/4″ apart on the lemon, parallel to and even with the clips.

Step 3

Connect the first clip with the second nail, on a diagonal. Repeat the process until the last nail has been connected.

Step 4

Tie an insulated wire to the open copper clip and another to the open zinc nail. This will create a positive and negative terminal.

Step 5

Finally, place some tinder on the steel wool in your fire pit. Connect the positive and negative wires to the steel wool, which will cause the short circuit and light the tinder on fire.

Now you should have fire! Watch the video and go through the steps again if you’re having trouble.

Our Conclusion

Our conclusion: It doesn’t really work. If it does, it’s just a fluke. It can not be properly replicated again and again and it’s quite possible the original video was just a hoax.

Other studies have shown us that fruits can be used as batteries, but they don’t contain enough zinc to have fire-starting power. A whole plate of lemons might charge your iPod for a little bit, but this isn’t the most practical way to spark a fire in an emergency situation. The current just isn’t large enough.

Even if it does work, there are some issues. Let’s say it WILL start a fire, but it’s really not a very effective fire-starter.

But now let’s consider whether or not this is actually practical.

Fact or Fiction? Can You Make Fire with a Lemon?

Some people still swear it works. Personally, I couldn’t get enough spark to actually start a fire. But let’s give the benefit of the doubt and say you can replicate it.

You CAN make fire with a lemon. But does that mean you should? This would make a cute kid’s experiment for science, and it can be a lot of fun to try out like we just did to test the theory.

But in a real-life survival situation, you need to rely on methods that are easy and available to you. Does the lemon-fire test hold up under pressure?

Ok, let’s get real here. No self-respecting prepper or survivalist will be putting a sack of lemons, copper clips, zinc nails, a piece of wire and steel wool in their bug out bag. Actually, I do want the steel wool; that’s a keeper. I’ll also take a ferro rod and my knife.


Ok, so after watching this video, you may not be running to the store to stock up on lemons, but I thought it was an interesting one.

Whether or not this is fact or fiction, I thought this was a pretty clever idea.

However, it is admittedly not terribly practical. While you most likely will not have these types of items lying around (zinc nails anyone?), it just goes to show you what might be possible if SHTF.

The real lesson here is that to survive when SHTF you will need some ingenuity and DIY skills. You may not be running to the store to stock up on lemons, but you never know what you may need.

Just because you CAN do something, doesn’t mean it’s the most practical thing to do in a survival situation, but hopefully, it was fun to see how to make fire with a lemon.

Real Survival Fire-Starters

So here is a very valuable piece of information for you: never take all of your survival information from one source only (not even us). One of the best ways to prepare for when SHTF is by trusting your own instincts.

The reason we educate ourselves and prepare today is so that we can be prepared for whatever tomorrow brings.  Taking the time to find out if you can make fire with a lemon is a good start to that. But what if you don’t have a lemon?

In fact, what if you don’t have ANY of that stuff? You’d need to know other methods of fire-starting, right?

One very popular method is to keep a 9V battery stash around. You basically do the same method as the lemon “battery”, but with an actual battery. And which is easier to keep and have on hand in a survival situation, really?

I’d take packs of 9 volts over a sack of lemons any day if it really came down to it! So, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade and use your 9V to start a fire.

It’s easy to follow some “survival expert” out there on the internet who will lead you astray. Take time to learn the facts. Take time to practice now. Don’t wait until you’re really in an emergency to try to figure out whether or not your lemons will get your campfire going!