Available for sale at most camping and outdoor sporting goods stores, people have been using flint and steel to build campfires for centuries. Striking flint against steel results in small pieces of steel being scraped off at high temperatures. These embers are then used to ignite kindling and tinder, after which you can begin adding larger pieces of wood to your fire.
Choosing the Right Flint and Steel
Don’t assume that all flint-and-steel combos are of equal quality. Some of the cheaper combos contain low-quality flint, which is harder to create hot embers from. The flint should have a sharp edge, which is used to strike against the steel, and it should be large enough to comfortably hold in your hand.
Also, it doesn’t necessarily have to be flint. Alternatives such as agate, jade, quartz, and chert are all excellent choices, assuming they have about a 7 or 9 on the Mohs hardness scale.
Building a Fire with Flint and Steel
After collecting a decent amount of kindling and tinder, it’s time to build your campfire using flint and steel. To begin, place some small kindling in a teepee shape, leaving the bottom open (this is where tinder is place once ignited). Gather up a small pile of tinder and place it over the top. While holding the steel in one hand, strike the flint downwards onto the surface of the steel at a 30-degree angle. Ideally, you should use the sharp edge of the flint to peel small pieces off the steel. As the small pieces come off, they’ll land on the tinder, hopefully igniting it. And once the tinder is ignited, you should quickly pick it up and move it underneath your pile of tinder. Congratulations, you’ve just a built a fire using flint and steel!
Of course, you’ll want to keep your flint and steel dry when camping. If either the flint or steel becomes wet, it may have trouble creating hot embers — hot enough to ignite your tinder and kindling. Some campers place their flint and steel in a sealed plastic bag to keep them dry.
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