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Flint and Steel

Discussion in 'Back to Basics' started by Bear, Jan 20, 2008.

  1. Bear

    Bear Monkey+++ Site Supporter+++ Founding Member Iron Monkey

    Forged up 5 fire strikers, out of 1095 steel, today for fun and gifts... had the forge going to make some knives so I figured why not....

    Sorry for the bad pics...

    Work great.... lots and lots of sparks...

    Had the char cloth going on the second strike...

    Made up some little kits... Steel, Flint, Char Cloth, Jutte tinder, 2 ferro rods and 2 of those trick birthday candles that relight when you blow them out... everything in a little altoids tin....

    Fun stuff...[beer]
    Fire kit 1.JPG Fire kit 2.JPG Fire kit 3.JPG Fire kit 4.JPG Fire kit 5.JPG Fire kit 6.JPG Fire kit 7.JPG Fire kit 8.JPG
    Brokor likes this.
  2. mage2

    mage2 Monkey+++

    Looks good Bear,
    I am working on a way to embed a firestarter in the sheath of a mora knife. Im thinking solid wood sheath to go with the handle and have it embeded somewhere in the sheath for firestarting. One could even add a pocket for charcloth or something of the sort.
  3. Bear

    Bear Monkey+++ Site Supporter+++ Founding Member Iron Monkey

    A Ferro Rod would be cool on that sheath... not sure how you could do it... maybe build cover it with leather... use contact cement after you rough up the sheath... then before you cement the leather ... sew a pocket for the rod and the char cloth....

    Thanks for the compliment... was fun forging today...
  4. ghrit

    ghrit Ambulatory anachronism Administrator Founding Member

    Time for a tutorial on starting fires with those things? My boy scout days are long in the past, and we didn't get fancier than one match in the rain skills.

    (Nothing wrong with the pix, either.)
  5. sheen_estevez

    sheen_estevez Monkey+++

    My oldest is just going from Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts so we have been messing around with different ways to start fire. Of course the fire starting logs work as long as you can produce a flame, there is one in his pack. Along with a magnesium fire starter, at least with that he can generate a flame pretty quick. The flint and steel takes a bit if you are new to fire starting, we practice at our fire ring in the back yard, and he found out very quick that if you only have tinder you've collected it may not start right away and you have to really work at it, but after a bit of him working on it he was able to start a nice little fire.

    Pix are great need to see more like this, once we get back into practice I'll try to remember to photo or vid it
  6. Tango3

    Tango3 Aimless wanderer

    very cool bear! e bay time?
    thanks for the "jute tinder" idea,
  7. the dog

    the dog Monkey+++

    cool post and super nice pic's.i never used char cloth before or a real flint.jsut always used a "big flint" it is one of the ferro rods or what ever you call them.the one i have is like a raod flare when scraped.heres a pic of it.it will last a long time for sure.i looked in my adventure backpacking goods and have found out my ferro rod/magnesium bar is gone!!! ig ot to replace that now....lol...wonder where i dropped that at....lol..heres a look at my big flint...got it from buckshot a long time ago.

  8. sniper-66

    sniper-66 Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    Another vote for good tutorial! considering that I live in the flint hills, it woud be a good class
  9. Seacowboys

    Seacowboys Senior Member Founding Member

    Ferrocerium Rod

    <!-- Main Body goes here! --> Imagine being able to carry a piece of kit capable of lighting over 25,000 fires and not needing a Land Rover to move it! Pretty cool, eh? Well, that's what a ferrocerium rod (from now on called a ferro rod) is. This small, simple, waterproof, no expiry date piece of kit is probably the single, most well thought out and practical piece of outdoor survival kit you could possibly have.
    Before we go any further, time for a quick chemistry lesson. A ferro rod is not a natural material and isn't flint (although you will often see a ferro rod called a firesteel, metal match or flint and steel - even though this is a completely different thing!). A ferro rod is a complex blend of 20 different metals fashioned together into a rod. Ferro rods are a complex blend - they consist of 20% iron - this is where the ferro part of the word ferrocerium comes from - (Fe), with trace amounts of other elements such as zinc (Zn), magnesium (Mg), cerium - this is where the cerium part of the word ferrocerium comes from - (Ce), lanthanum (La), neodymium (Nd) along with minute traces amounts of other rare earth elements
    When the rod is scraped with a steel edge, particles are scraped off and ignited by the friction giving a shower of hot sparks. These burning particles can, in turn, ignite your tinder.
    There are many different types of ferro rod out there but the one I'm talking about here is the chunky, 6.5 cm long "Swedish Military" model - the one embedded into a plastic handle (there is a smaller version known as the "Scout" model). These ferro rods also come with a handy steel striker, although you can use other steel strikers, such as the spine of a knife (never the cutting edge of a blade, no, no, arghhhhh!) or any other bit of steel you might have. Failing having any steel, try any other metal you might have, such as coins.
    Some find that the hard part to using a ferro rod is not generating the sparks, but getting them to land on the tinder and not go all over the place (watch out when using a ferro rod around synthetic materials such as waterproof jackets, tents of basha sheets - the sparks can easily burn holes through these materials). There are two schools of thought on the best way to get the sparks to land in the right place and minimize the sparks that land in the wrong place:
    1. Have plenty of tinder and make a nest for the ferro rod. Place the tip of the rod in the middle of the tinder and scrape the metal edge down firmly along the rod.
    2. If you have less tinder, do the same and make a smaller nest of the tinder and place the tip of the rod in the middle of it. However, this time, instead of moving the scraper down the rod, pull the rod up against the scraper. This is harder to pull off successfully but when you perfect the technique it does tend to focus the sparks better.
    The best striker though has to be a small bit of hacksaw blade. Even though these ferro rods come complete with a striker, I suggest you bin this in favor of the more versatile hacksaw blade. Use the spine of the blade when you want a normal shower of sparks and use the toothy side of the blade when you want a Nov 5th/July 4th style shower of sparks. While this is a mega cool pyrotechnical display, it does seriously wear out your ferro rod (mine has some spectacular furrows running along it - although it is still perfectly usable and has thousands of fires in it still!) a lot quicker than a smooth scraper.
    Best tinder for ferro rods include:
    • Cotton wool (preferably soaked in Vaseline)
    • Birch bark
    • Fine Fatwood chips/dust (also known as Maya wood)
    • Char cloth
    • Tinder fungus
    • Wire wool (yup, you can get wire wool burning!)
    • Dried grasses/natural fibers/natural fluff material (for example, Old Man's Beard)
    • Paper (not as easy as it seems but it is possible)
    • Magnesium chips/powder (you can get a ferro rod embedded in a magnesium block which makes a spectacular high-temperature flash fire!)
    Corrosion can be a bit of a problem with ferro rods - especially in hot, humid climates or where the ferro rod is kept close to the skin. A quick and easy solution to this is to paint the rod with nail polish - clear if you want it to look neutral or a more "exciting" color if you want to make it easier to find if you drop it outdoors! This doesn't affect the performance of the ferro rod as far as the amount of sparks it generates but you do have to keep on applying the nail polish though. I suggest getting two rods ... one to play with and one to keep in the survival kit! If they seem a little big for a survival kit you can get smaller ones or cut a big one down. I've never tried this ... I would imagine that this has great scope for fire unless you take great care (that definitely rules out doing crazy stuff like cutting the rod with an angle grinder!)
    As well as keeping an eye on your rods for corrosion, take care not to drop them onto hard ground as they can break (although they can still be used).
    Conclusion - Super bit on kit that means that you should have no excuse not to be able to get a fire going under pretty much any circumstances with the minimal of kit. You do need to remember to practice with your ferro rod before you need to rely on it!
  10. Tango3

    Tango3 Aimless wanderer

    Bought A "blastmatch "recently samething but In a lightly spring loaded plastic shell with a thumb button putting pressure on a steel scraper. very nice sparks but the shell is unnecessarily "bulky" I'm going to get a "swedish firesteel"( e-bay) just the rod embedded in A plastic knob for neck carry..These ARE "seriously wonderfull pieces of kit"that work.even when wet.(I'm partial to the cotton balls and vaseline but am itching to try the steelwool this season, I'll bet you can soak a steel wool pad, blow out the water, wave it around to dry and it would still catch a spark. Stack a couple of "D" batteries end to end and connect the top and bottom of the "stack"with some steel wool and it goes right up too.Taking the bulb out of ascout 2d flashlight and stuffing steelwool in the socket would probably work too...( haven't tried the socket)
  11. hartage

    hartage Monkey+++

    Call me practical but what about the ever so cheap disposable butane lighter ? I don't think they have an expiration date. Even if they do go bad it should be a few years. $1 for 3 at dollar stores. Buy a bunch and put them everywhere.

    They're not so picky any old dry tinder will work. Unlike the sparkers that are quite picky as to what they will start. You can dunk the butane lighters in water just dry it off and it works again.

    If you start 1 fire a day a single lighter should last you the better part of a year.

    Cheap, easy to use, small, practical. Lots going for them for a measely $1 (for 3)
  12. Tango3

    Tango3 Aimless wanderer

    No moving parts no gas (fuel) to leakout,Whats not to love?????magnesium ( from a mag bar type burns at5,000F) I have started fire in rain soaked woods, 5,000degreees is nothing to snorf at...
  13. sniper-66

    sniper-66 Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    Very susceptible to temperature, humidity and outright moisture, and altitude. I keep them in my gear, but do not rely on them, they fail at the worst possible moment. Needed to start a warming fire at 11,500 in the mountains and it failed on me. Fortunately, I had matches as well.

  14. hartage

    hartage Monkey+++

    Yeah, butane lighters have their own quirks. I have used them at altitude (10.5k white mountains wintertime) they don't like cold or high. At first I could not get the darn thing to light. Solution was to stick it inside my jacket for a couple of minuites to warm them up. Worked great after that.

    Not saying the sparkers don't work well, but at what 8+ bucks a pop keeping several in different places will sting some.

    I keep 3 fire starters in my BOB. 1 butane lighter, 1 mag bar, 1 watertight match container with matches. So far I've never had to go past the butane lighter at any time (camping). They work great for me so far.
  15. Bear

    Bear Monkey+++ Site Supporter+++ Founding Member Iron Monkey

    Oooops... my flint and steel... and my jutte tinder and my char cloth got wet....

    Actually soaked it for 20 minutes....

    Took it out ... padded it with a paper towel....

    Then .... well you can see the pics....

    I figured the 2 ferro rods were no brainers to work... those are in there just in case....

    These kits aren't meant to take the place of common sense... plans A,B,C,D,etc... should all be in place and this kit is just one of the options for any of those contingencies.... or.... there are obviously others...

    Heck... they're just fun to play with and hone a long lost skill.... [beer]
    1.JPG 2.JPG 3.JPG 4.JPG 5.JPG 6.JPG 7.JPG 8.JPG
  16. Tango3

    Tango3 Aimless wanderer

    I'll grant you there is more than a little "pride" in the practice of "old time"simple skills here.if I smoked and had to light cigarettes all day a zippo or butane would be a no brainer, but knowing about char cloth and flint andpracticing allows you to start a fire, no matches or lighter with just some steel and a found flint or piece of quartz (any rock hard enough to create a spark.from your knife or hatchet.) knowledge is the lightest most unbreakable thing to carry.
  17. Bear

    Bear Monkey+++ Site Supporter+++ Founding Member Iron Monkey

    Here's the method I use... could never get these things to work... until I started this method....

    The char cloth or tinder is right next to the steel sparks... so they don't have far to travel and remain as hot as possible... 1 or 2 strikes is all I need....

    YouTube- How to strike a flint and steel
  18. Bear

    Bear Monkey+++ Site Supporter+++ Founding Member Iron Monkey

    Here's another good one... its the method I use...

    YouTube- AZ of Bushcraft (F is for Fire by Flint)

    Also has a good section on the ferro rods
  19. Bear

    Bear Monkey+++ Site Supporter+++ Founding Member Iron Monkey

    Nah... I do this for fun and learning....

    Yeah... the jute tinder idea is a very compact way to carry tinder... and jute dries very rapidly even when wet... the last post was with damp jute after soaking for 20 minutes... even the char cloth dried and caught a spark with no problems....

    I found 10lb spools of 1/4 inch natural jute twine and picked up all the guy had left.... I love them... alot cheaper and less bulkier than oakum...

    And I find the very best char cloth material is monks cloth... lots of hold and crevices to actually catch the sparks and hold them so the char cloth will start burning....
  20. monkeyman

    monkeyman Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    I generaly keep some matches, a zipo (aside from the one always in my pocket), a couple cards of spare flints, several Tobasco sauce botles from MREs filled with Zipo fluid, a couple disposable lighters and a fero rod in my BOB. I have started a couple fires by spinning a stick against another and can say to a certainty I dont want to be frezing and wet and relying on that meathod so make sure I have several options before resorting to that one.
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