Flint and steel fire starters have been around for hundreds of years. Although the concept if pretty simple, starting a fire using this method is not as easy as it sounds.
To consistently start a fire with these tools will take practice. However, once you have the technique down and a basic understanding of the equipment a hot fire is something anyone should be able to accomplish.
To begin you will need three basic pieces of equipment......flint or flint stone, the steel and the char-cloth.
The flint or flint stone is a hard sedimentary cryptocrystalline. It's a form of the mineral quartz.
This stone can come in a variety of different colors. It's often a dark gray color, however it can be green, white, black or even brown. The flit stone will also have a unique glossy or waxy appearance.
The steel you want to use for striking the flint needs to be high carbon steel. If you are a do-it-yourselfer, you can make your own steel striker by taking an old file or any piece of high carbon steel you can find.
There is a process and several additional steps that need to be followed if you want to create your own steel. If you're not a do-it-yourselfer you can simply purchase a steel striker.
They usuall come in a "C" or "U" shape. It's a personal preference which style you choose. It just needs to fit your hand comfortably.
Traditionally char-cloth was usually made from linen. Typically it's now made from 100% cotton material.
Char-cloth is material that has been previously charred in a fire and then smothered. This process makes the cloth easy to re-ignite.
You can actually make your own char-cloth with a few additional steps but sometimes it's easier just to buy it pre-made.
Ok.....you have all the basic tools together to start your fire except one crucial item, tinder. Tinder is a small combustable material that's easy to light. This is arguably the most important step.
If your tinder is damp, wet, or to big it will not light. No matter how many sparks you make with your flint and steel, if your tinder doesn't light it's useless for starting a fire.
I have seen people use dryer lint, cotton balls with petroleum jelly or just about anything that's small and combustable. If you don't have anything like that available simply gather dry grass, leaves or anything similar that's small and dry.
Gather a pile of your material together and make a structure similar to a bird nest. Here's where it gets a little tricky. There's a lot of different ways to set up your tools. How you actually set them up will be the personal preference that works best for you.
The goal is the same, you want to strike your flint with the steel creating sparks that will be caught by the char-cloth which will in turn light the char-cloth which will light the tinder.
One way to do this is to put your char-cloth on or next to (touching) your tinder bundle. Hold the flint and steel striker directly above the char-cloth and tinder bundle. Strike the steel in downward motions throwing sparks down onto the char-cloth.
Once you see a red glow on the char-cloth where it has caught a spark, start gently blowing on it. Fire needs oxygen and blowing on it will feed oxygen to your char-cloth to help ignite the tinder.
Once you see flame, keep feeding that fire with small tinder and work your way up to bigger pieces until you have a roaring fire.
Although this method of starting a fire sounds easy on paper.....it's actually pretty difficult.
This traditional method does not throw as many hot sparks as some of the newer methods available. So, if you're up for a challenge grab yourself some traditional flint and steel and go build a fire!