How to Start a Fire with Flint and Steel
According to Greek mythology, Prometheus stole the fire from Olympus and gave it to mankind. But once Zeus found out, he wasn’t too pleased and the thief was chained to a rock, where he spent the rest of his days having his livers feasted on every day by an eagle, forever and ever. Luckily for us, fire is significantly easier to come by nowadays, with the flick of the lighter being all it takes.
Jokes aside, producing fire is relatively easy, if you have the right tools. Lighters are great and all, but if you’re out in the wild, you can’t always rely on a lighter to start the fire for you. Actually, if you’re in the wild, you should probably give alternative fire-starting methods a try. Not only is there something incredibly magical about starting a fire with something other than a lighter, but it is also very reliable.
One of the easiest ways to start a fire is by using a flint and steel. The flint isn’t a single rock formation, more like a loose family of rocks that are quite hard. They’re usually multi-coloured, and vary in hardness depending on their chemical content. The flint needs to feature an acute edge, and it has to be sharp enough so it can take a bite from the steel so that you get a spark. Sometimes, the flint needs to be knapped or dressed with another flint or hammer to get a proper edge.
A good survival flint striker should resist the pressure of the flint, except for the piece that ignites. Moreover, a well-treated survival flint striker should give you thousands of sparks before you lose it, as you certainly won’t wear it out. In case the steel gets too hot, you need to cool it off before using it again. Generally, the striker steel is C or U shaped.
A lot of people think that the flint particles are the cause for the spark, which is not true. Instead, it’s the high pressure exerted onto the steel striker which causes a small curl of steel to peel off of the striker and ignite. You can test this by bending a coat hanger consecutively in one spot, and soon enough you’ll notice that it will become hot, as energy warms the metal. Now picture putting the force of your downwards stroke into a tiny flake of metal.
Lastly, you need some tinder (not the dating app). Tinder is anything that burns if a spark were to land on it – dry grass or dry lint, for example. Finding dry tinder can be problematic, depending on the circumstances, but given the fact we live in Australia, I think our odds are pretty decent. You can get oakum and have some with you at all times. Oakum is comprised of jute fibers, which is what gunnysacks are made of.