Flint & Steel Fire Starting

How do you take a chunk of steel, hit it with a rock, and get a fire? This is amazing the first time you see it! But, it does take a little knowledge, some proper tools, and some preparation.

The fire steel needs to be high carbon tool steel - like a file, or a spring from a car or garage door. Yes, you can also make it from new tool steel. You forge/file/grind it to the shape you want, then heat it up to a cherry red. This is a "critical" temperature for steel. At this temp, a magnet will no longer stick to the steel. You then quench it by putting it in water until cold. It is now hard like a file, and will create sparks.

A piece of flint works best, but any hard rock with a sharp edge will work. Flint just works better, and holds a sharp edge longer. It's also easier to knapp the edge to sharpen it.

Then you need something to catch the sparks. Charred cotton or linen cloth works very well. When a spark lands on it, it catches, and the glow will spread throughout the whole chunk of cloth as you gently blow on it. Once you have that spark in your charcloth, you then need a "bird's nest" of very dry grass, or bark, or old rope. And then all the small twigs and kindling to build your fire.(Learn How To Make Char Cloth)

When you strike a glancing blow, with the face of the fire steel, across the sharp edge of the flint, you get sparks. What you are doing is cutting or scraping little bits of the steel off with the sharp edge of the flint. It's just like when you push a piece of steel into the bench grinder and get sparks. It takes a little practice, and you have to be careful that you don't hit your knuckles on the sharp flint!

You strike your flint and steel so that the sparks land on the char cloth. When one catches, you place the char cloth in your "bird's nest" of dry bark/grass. Gently wrap the bird's nest around the char cloth and spark. Now gently blow on it. As the spark spreads out through the char cloth, the heat is transferred to the bird's nest. When it gets hot enough, you have FIRE! You then place the burning bird's nest into your prepared kindling, and build your fire.

Simple, ain't it? It helps to see someone else do it, and get a little one-on-one coaching. What a great thrill you get when you make your first fire!