Flint, Steel & Tinderbox Fire Lighting.

Discussion in 'All Resources About Fire' started by Keith H., May 4, 2016.

Flint, Steel & Tinderbox Fire Lighting. 5 5 1votes
5/5, 1 vote

  1. Keith H.

    Keith H. Moderator Staff Member
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    Flint & steel is a sustainable method of fire lighting.
    S-MGGWbr17_G2fekH97kDQMTLlh7bqig.jpeg
    This is my original 18th century fire steel. Before I obtained this one I used a copy of an early English fire steel.
    S-MGGWbr17_G2fekH97kDQMTLlh7bqig.jpeg
    My brass tinderbox containing plant tinders & a musket flint.
    S-MGGWbr17_G2fekH97kDQMTLlh7bqig.jpeg
    My greased leather fire bag which contains my tinderbox & a beeswax candle stub. the top rolls down to keep it waterproof. This I carry in my belt pouch.



     
    Last edited: May 12, 2018
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  2. Ystranc

    Ystranc Master Survivalist
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    image.jpeg Thank you for the inspiration to get on with making a steel striker Keith, here is a photo. I've got the technique for using charcloth worked out. I'm now learning the natural timders.
     
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  3. Keith H.

    Keith H. Moderator Staff Member
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    Well done Y, I am impressed! Did you copy this from an original? Here is an original claiming to be 19th century, though working out the period of manufacture can be difficult sometimes.
    Keith.
    4d53845f997d7983c7d66125dfbfbbad.jpeg
     
  4. Ystranc

    Ystranc Master Survivalist
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    It was copied from one of your photos, made from an old damaged file I'm intending to make another C shaped striker...
     
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  5. Keith H.

    Keith H. Moderator Staff Member
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    adacbfba063fc951aef337d2d59bd2aa.jpeg
     
  6. Ystranc

    Ystranc Master Survivalist
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    Here is a photo part way through. The file was anealed then heated straw yellow to be tapered and bent to approximate shape, it now needs to be flattened off a little before having its temper restored by heating cherry red and quenching in old engine oil.
    Then I get to play with it :)
     

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  7. Ystranc

    Ystranc Master Survivalist
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    Here it is with the striking facet smoothed off ready to be tempered
     

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  8. Keith H.

    Keith H. Moderator Staff Member
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    Excellent Y, very well done. Thanks for the pics.
    Regards, Keith.
     
  9. TexDanm

    TexDanm Shadow Dancer
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    Basically whether you use cloth rope or grass the process of making it into char tender is simple crating a form of purified carbon that is dry and will eagerly catch and nourish a spark. I feel that for a novice the advantage to starting them with charcloth is to allow them to learn and be successful and is a START. They learn how to use their flint and steel without having to fight the less and perfect charged tinder. Then when that is done you can move to the other more natural fibers and alternative fibers.

    Honestly I have found that a lot of outdoorsy type people can't hardly make a fire with matches. They don't fully understand the process. I watched a supposedly knowledgeable person work himself into a tizzy trying to start a fire with a ferrocerium rod. He just didn't understand that the grass was too coarse to catch and nourish the spark. Building a fire is done fastest slowly. Take the time to find or make your nest of the finest fibers possible and if you are using flint and steel you are going to have to make some sort of partially charred carbon based material to get it to go. I have done this with a magnifying glass but it takes massive patience. Starting a fire with a magnifying glass with all found natural fibers can be frustrating. That is why I always have a ferro rod, matches and lighter.

    I make my charred stuff in an altoids can that I also use to carry my stuff in. I've found that jute is a great second level tinder but then When I was a boy scout I made twine and rope from natural grasses that was comparable. I always carry at least three ways to make fire and in my bug out kits that number may be five or six different fire making tools. That first fire is the most important because once you make it you can produce the tinder that will make the next easier.

    The ability to make fire with flint and steel or by rubbing two pieces of wood together is the only all natural way to make fire. In most places if you know where to look and that materials to use you can eventually make fire with only your found materials and a steel. Learn it and practice it but also don't depend on it as your first line of use.

    Survival is about minimizing risks and if I am cold and need a fire I want it right now and without any trouble. I personally like matches. I have hundreds of little tubes made from 1/2" plastic slurpy straws that have 3 strike anywhere kitchen matches inside with a piece of sandpaper then seals by melting the ends closed. I also will have a ferro rod with a striker and jute in a small bundle. I get ferrocerium rods off Ebay for almost nothing. less than a dollar apiece for 1/4" by about 3" rods. You can even get them with holes drilled in the end so that they can be carried on a key ring.

    Fire is the first MUST. If you are out in the weather you can die of exposure faster than anything else. Food and water will be necessary but only if you don't let the cold get you. Hypothermia can happen at fairly warm only cool nights is you got wet in a storm. Fire and shelter are your first things and you need to be able to do it fast and every time.
     
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  10. Keith H.

    Keith H. Moderator Staff Member
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    I do not have a problem with people starting with charred cloth, but actually some plant & fungi tinders take a spark just as good as charred cloth if not better.
    People also get confused between tinder & kindling, dried grass is kindling, NOT tinder. Most rope types are also used as kindling, NOT tinder.
    Keith.
    http://woodsrunnersdiary.blogspot.com.au/search?q=what+is+tinder+&+what+is+kindling
    http://woodsrunnersdiary.blogspot.com.au/2012/02/part-four-closer-look-at-flint-steel.html
    http://woodsrunnersdiary.blogspot.com.au/2014/02/authentication-use-of-tinderbox.html

    http://woodsrunnersdiary.blogspot.com.au/2012/02/part-three-closer-look-at-flint-steel.html
     
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  11. TexDanm

    TexDanm Shadow Dancer
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    Tender is the foundation of your fire. It is usually a small bundle of the finest fibers that you can find. Jute twine is like gasoline and makes a fine tinder nest. Your charred carbon whether from cotton cloth, linen cloth or charred natural fibers is used to catch and hold the spark and feed it to keep it alive until you can introduce it into your tinder bundle. The next step is tiny twigs and other coarser materials and then bigger stuff as the fire grows.

    If you are using a ferrocerium rod or a bow drill your tinder is the nest of tiny fibers. Because the Ferrocerium is actually sort of burning and the "sparks last longer the need for charred starter is unnecessary. The ember that you get from a bow drill is also a much hotter and longer lasting start and also has no need for charred material.

    Some grasses here when dry can be torn into extremely fine fibers as can cottonwood and the cat tail heads and some fungi.

    You are right that there is a lot of misunderstanding in the exact terminology and at what point something is tinder and when it is fine kindling. Tinder is the first step where there is fire that is more than a spark. That stage is somewhat dependent on what kind of initial spark or ember you are getting.

    Making charred material is basically the same process as making charcoal. You start the burning process and then when most of the moisture is gone and all you have left is almost pure carbon you smother the fire and stop the process there. My Grandfather used to make and sell charcoal. Purified carbon in a very fine and lighter molecular structure is extremely flammable. Dust from plants and grains for much the same reason suspended in dry air is explosive flammable. Iron in the form of a fine powder will actually burn and become molten from a spark as well.

    You can get steel wool to burn easily. Oxidation of carbon is called fire and oxidation of iron is called rust but basically they are very similar.
     
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  12. Keith H.

    Keith H. Moderator Staff Member
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    That is what I thought, you are basing what you think tinder is on ferocerium rod use. They did NOT carry or store or secure materials for making a nest in a "Tinderbox" Tex, they stored tinder in the tinderbox. The fire bow produces its own tinder from the friction. Anyway, so long as it works for you there is no point my arguing this point. Just so long as other people trying to make fire with "flint, steel & tinderbox" understand the difference.
    Regards, Keith.
     
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  13. TexDanm

    TexDanm Shadow Dancer
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    I'm not disagreeing with you at all. I am just offering that while the old ways are well worth knowing, there are other and more certain ways to do things than what was used several hundred years ago. I person with a muzzle loader is at a distinct disadvantage if they get in a fight against someone with a modern repeating rifle.

    In a bind a ferrocerium rod will make a fire without having to start with a charred material. While making a fire the old way with flint and steel or with a bow drill is a great skill to have in a survival situation I am not going to handicap myself by refusing to use better and more sure modern methods. I like Ferro rods but I ALWAYS have a lighter and matches in my pockets and if I'm cold that is what I will use.

    If you will google Tinder you will find that it is described as the foundation substance of fire starting and while you MUST have charred tinder with flint and steel you don't need it with ferro rods, a lighter or matches. Survival is best when you know as many ways to get the necessities done as possible. I feel that limiting yourself to only one or two ways to do anything places you at a disadvantage.
     
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  14. lonewolf

    lonewolf Moderator Staff Member
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    there is an old adage" 3 is 2, 2 is 1, and 1 is none", one should always have more than one way of doing something, if one way fails then we have another way to do it.
    flint and steel is great but I don't live in a flint area and the nearest is a 80 mile round trip and this wont be safe to do post SHTF, so another method would be required.
    matches and lighters are fine, I have both, but they are a finite resource only available whilst society still functions.
    probably only something if one is moving about all the time hunter/gatherer style, in a fixed camp or BOL situation a permanent fire or some sort of wood burner would be the order of the day.
     
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  15. TexDanm

    TexDanm Shadow Dancer
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    The more ways that you have to do and cover the critical things like fire, water and shelter the more likely you are to survive the unexpected. That is one reason why on top of everything else I always have some sterno tablets and candles, greased cotton balls and stormproof matches. Being wet and cold is deadly. That is when you want something that never fails and will get a fire going even if everything is wet.
     
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  16. lonewolf

    lonewolf Moderator Staff Member
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    I always say, use what you can until its no longer available, but use it (post SHTF) to get to a place(in time)where you can live without it.
     
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  17. TexDanm

    TexDanm Shadow Dancer
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    Primitive people didn't build a new fire every day. They, once they had it made, carried it with them from place to place and carefully tended it and tended to it. There was usually an older person that had the job of keeping the fire. They were the opposite of a throw away society. They saved their fire and their ash. They knew how to bank a fire and bring it awake later. They would carry a living ember in moss on a shell and feed it as needed to keep it alive. They could make a fire from scratch but they knew that it was a LOT less work and a lot surer if they could just start with a living ember. A tin can with a wire bail makes a good fire carrier. I've also seen it done in a GI canteen cup that had a wire bail on it.
     
  18. lonewolf

    lonewolf Moderator Staff Member
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    I have seen fire carried in a big fungus(the type that grows on trees) with a piece of rope through it as a handle, you occasionally twirl the rope to keep the ember burning, but I am sure there are other methods like your tin can.
     
  19. Brian Heap

    Brian Heap New Member
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    I bought a flint fire starter kit, Flint and steel. I never got a single spark. Just ordered another flint and steel kit, Sure is frustrating. I want to learn how to do it.
     
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  20. randyt

    randyt Expert Member
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    how big is your piece of flint? To learn I think it is easier with a bigger piece of flint.
     
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  21. Keith H.

    Keith H. Moderator Staff Member
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    Possibly easier with a larger piece of flint randy, all I am using is a musket gun flint, but I was just given a larger piece of flint so I think I will swop.
    Not all commercial fire steels are the same, some spark better than others. If the steel is too hard or too soft you will not get decent sparks.
    https://woodsrunnersdiary.blogspot.com/2009/09/flint-steel-fire-lighting-for.html
    https://woodsrunnersdiary.blogspot.com/2016/08/flint-steel-fire-lighting-methods.html
    If you think I may be of any help randy, don't hesitate to contact me.
    Keith.
     
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  22. Oldguy

    Oldguy Expert Member
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    I have a ZIPPO and the stuff to keep it woring for a long time.
    I have bulk match's
    I have flint and steel
    I have a fire piston
    I have bic lighters
    I have lens's if the sun is cooperating
    I have a tinder box and a kindling bag

    I don't do things the hard way unless I got to.
    When I want fire I usually want it NOW not later!

    When on long camping trips I usually rotate the way I light up.
     
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  23. Keith H.

    Keith H. Moderator Staff Member
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    I have never failed to make fire with a tinderbox regardless of the weather conditions, & it does not take very long. If you need all that gear & you are having trouble making fire with flint & steel, I would say that you need to learn more about the process & you need more practice. Flint & steel fire lighting done in the right manner is not hard nor time consuming.
    Keith.
     
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  24. Oldguy

    Oldguy Expert Member
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    I do not recall saying I was having trouble lighting fires at all matey!
    I do not need any more learning nor practice for that matter!
    Are you trying to stir up trouble?

    I have no trouble making fire at all with any of those methods and many more.
    I am sometimes pushed for time ( fire making is not always my duty ) so want to get the fire going fast like in just a few seconds.
    Suppose it depends on who is with me.
    I don't need all that gear but most of my camping trips have been teaching trips with various others.
     
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  25. Keith H.

    Keith H. Moderator Staff Member
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    In reply to this flint & steel thread you said & I quote: "I don't do things the hard way unless I got to.
    When I want fire I usually want it NOW not later!".

    I took that to mean that you are not skilled in flint & steel fire lighting & therefore prefer to use what for you is an easier method, the lighter or your matches. Perhaps you would like to explain exactly what your comment did mean so we can all understand?
    Keith.
     
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  26. Ystranc

    Ystranc Master Survivalist
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    I have found that there are vast differences in the quality of flint available to me. I recently got my hands on a quantity of musket flints. They're an ideal size to hold between the index finger and thumb of my left hand with a scrap of char cloth held above the Flint in position to catch the spark.
     
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  27. randyt

    randyt Expert Member
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    One summer I learned the value of punk as tinder. I was burning a brush pile and a old stump 50 feet away started to smoulder. I could not get it extinguished, had to get a bucket of water and wet it down.

    I'm not sure but I think charcloth wasn't really used that much, cloth was probably to valuable. I had learned by holding the flint and pinching charcloth against the flint. I think that the way it was normally done was to direct the sparks into the tinder box and pull a ember out. Will the tinder extinguish its self when the lid is put back on? I have a altoids tin as a tinder box.

    I wonder too, at what age did children start learning to make fire?
     
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  28. Ystranc

    Ystranc Master Survivalist
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    I disagree, with a little practice and the right tools it's no harder than starting a fire with a match.
    Maybe it's slightly less convenient but it's a satisfying skill to have at your command.
     
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  29. randyt

    randyt Expert Member
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    I should have watched the video first
     
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  30. lonewolf

    lonewolf Moderator Staff Member
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    i don't live in a flint area so obtaining some is a 100 mile round trip.
     
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  31. Oldguy

    Oldguy Expert Member
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    Basicly NO flint in all of Australia, gotta be imported.
    No Sulphur either.
     
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  32. Keith H.

    Keith H. Moderator Staff Member
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    I used to think this was a modern method of fire lighting, then one day I found a painting of Joseph & Mary & Joseph was lighting a lamp with this method! I named it the "Joseph Method". He is shown using some type of plant or fungus tinder, not charred cloth.
    I can't access the photo site this morning to show you, but the images are at the end of this video I made.

    Keith.
     
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  33. Keith H.

    Keith H. Moderator Staff Member
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    My three sons were making fire with flint & steel by the age of 5 years, I think depending on the class lifestyle in earlier periods it would have been much the same. A peasant child or colonial child is far more likely to have learnt the skill than an upper class child.
    Keith.
     
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  34. Keith H.

    Keith H. Moderator Staff Member
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  35. randyt

    randyt Expert Member
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    I live in northern Michigan USA, very near Fort Mackinac. I asked a professor why folks found flint points in my area but I could find no natural flint in the area? He said that the NA had trade routes and materials and goods moved to and fro. Most of the flint probably came from Ohio. My cousins in Ohio had lots of flint and found lots of points in the fields.
     
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  36. Oldguy

    Oldguy Expert Member
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    Keith
    Yep and that is about it for the continent!
     
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  37. randyt

    randyt Expert Member
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  38. sekelbos

    sekelbos Well-Known Member
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  39. Sonofliberty

    Sonofliberty Expert Member
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    Making char tinder is one of the main reasons I EDC an Altoids tin. I keep other stuff in the tin to save space.
     
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  40. TexDanm

    TexDanm Shadow Dancer
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    I use altoid cans too but I recently got some screw top round cans that are about the same volume as an altoid can that I'm going to try. If I have good char material and some jute I can make a fire in a hurry.

    The problem is that where I was raised there were no rocks other than those hauled in for roads and such. Even where I live now chert is what I can find here and it isn't as good as real flint. The other problem is that if your char material gets wet you are in trouble if you need a fire FAST.

    I seldom have less than three ways to make fire. For casual use, a lighter is the best. Bic, zippo or peanut lighter are all the same. I also always have a ferrocerium rod with me. I make all sorts of zipper pulls and key fobs with Ferro rods along with bigger ones up to a 6" X 1/2" in an elk horn campfire maker. I also carry matches in my pockets. I take three strike anywhere kitchen matches or three stormproof matches, a piece of striking material, a bit of jute and seal them up in a 1/2" plastic straw with the ends melted and sealed tight. I also usually have a Fresnel lens in my wallet. Old eyes need a little help sometimes.

    Flint and steel is a classic way to make a fire but if I am cold as hell and wet I want a lighter or at least a match. I want a fire NOW. When those are gone I will still have the flint and steel but for now, it is only something that I use when doing a demonstration to someone or just for the pleasure of doing it the old way. A Ferrocerium rod is sort of in the middle. As far as speed and certainty of a fast fire. Because the sparks thrown off of the Ferro rod are a lot hotter and longer lasting than those made with flint and steel your materials can be much coarser.

    When you are trying to survive for real you want the best and quickest tool for the job. You aren't going to reach for flint and steel if you have a lighter or match in your pocket unless you really don't NEED the fire.
     
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  41. Oldguy

    Oldguy Expert Member
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    Yes to the locals but no nationally
     
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