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Making Fire with Flint and Steel

Okay, one more post on fire and I promise to knock it off for a while.  

This one is about something a bit more interesting and ancient; making fire with flint and steel.

Not long after man invented steel, some clever person hit it with a rock.  The world has never been the same since.  Flint and steel strikers replaced friction fire making tools such as hand drills and bow drills.  Before that people just found fire lying around and scooped some up for their own use.  

The European tinderbox dates back to the 16th century and was the world’s equivalent to a box of matches.  Matches did not show up till around the 19th century.  This portable fire-making kit consisted of flint and steel and some tinder to catch and grow the spark into a useful fire.  I doubt 16th century Europeans bought their flint and steel off the internet, but I have no doubt they ‘would of if they could of’

So you may be asking, “Why go to so much trouble when you can just flick a Bic?”  Well, for the same reason you go hiking and bike touring.  It’s fun. A fire is great entertainment and provides not only warmth but a romantic focal point to bring people closer. Also, it’s been proven that fire created in this traditional manner burns 11% cozier than fires made by more modern means.  Why not make the most of your campfire and enjoy a process for creating fire that has been around since the dawn of the Iron Age?

I bought this “Scottish Snail” style flint and steel set off the internet for about ten bucks.  It’s odd how all these fire starters cost about ten bucks.  The Light-My-Fire, the Armageddon, Mag-Blocks and Flint and Steel…all about ten bucks.

Thanks for reading, Jack

Categories: Gear
  1. arlen
    October 29, 2010 at 8:12 pm

    i can understand….
    i have the same addictions….
    you are preaching to the choir…

    • michael
      November 19, 2010 at 1:48 pm

      “it’s been proven that fire created in this traditional manner burns 11% cozier than fires made by more modern means”

      That’s pure satire! Well played.

      BTW, in place of tinder sticks I soak jute in wax. You fray the ends before sparking and they burn for a good few minutes.

  2. The Velo Hobo
    November 19, 2010 at 4:44 pm

    That’s a good tip. I’ve also soaked cotton balls and dryer lint in wax.

    Thanks for the comment, Jack

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