There are a lot of misconceptions that exist regarding flint and steel versus a ferro rod. There is a difference between the ferro, and the flint and steel.

In this field guide we’ll explain the differences and give you the best practices to use the flint and steel method to start a  fire

Flint and steel is also known as chert and steel. Ferro rod is ferrous iron that is scraped off by using one metal to scrape off another metal. That iron hits the oxygen in the air, and bursting into sparks.

There’s no flint in this process and so it’s steel and steel. This is a very modern technique because it’s only recently been something that we can do to mix iron with other steels that will ignite at a much higher spark temperature than the old school flint and steel.

If you have mud that has been sun cooked and you scrape a rock across that, it throws chunks out and bursts into flame or spark with the oxygen. With a flint and steel, the rock rips little chunks of iron off and mixes with the oxygen, thus making a spark.

Also, something very important to understand is the spark that you get with the ferro rod is vastly hotter than the spark that you get with flint and steel.

How to create a natural flame.

  • Make some nesting material.

You can quickly create yourself a nice little nest that you can use, so that once you have an actual spark you can turn it into flame.

  • Prepare some char cloth.

Char cloth is basically plant based material that has been cooked without oxygen.

So you need to cook it inside of a container that removes gases.

This will hold an ember for you, if you throw a spark at it.

There are two ways to hold a spark:

  1. Hold the iron and throw sparks into the can.

Once you get iron, you grab one and pull it out. It’s good when you have char material that is like bark, or something that’s just kind of all over the place.

  1. Use little strips of cloth.

You can just do the spark on the little piece of cloth.

  • Change the angle.

If you’re attempting and you’re not getting anything, you need to change the angle and eventually you’ll get your spark.

Remember that If you’re hand is loose, you won’t whip, hit, smack and  go straight at it. Hit at an angle and when you start to shave that outer edge, you’ll notice some sparks.

  • Make sure you practice before you throw the char cloth on there.

There are three ways to hold the char cloth and these include:

  1. Hold the char cloth on the bottom, throw sparks, and get it on the bottom. Whenever you do that, the sparks go to the top.
  2. The other way is to hold it on the top, and whenever you do this the sparks go to the bottom.
  3. Hold it with thumb and forefinger in the middle, so that you can get a spark from whatever direction, and it will work wherever it goes.

A little cheater technique is to throw a little extra char cloth down in your nesting material, so that it will hold once you get it there. This is because sometimes it can burn out really quick.

One last technique, is if you’re having a hard time with your cloth falling apart, just put one on the bottom, and one on the top, as if you had one big piece that’s splitting.

  • Make the flame from the ember that you just created.

Just like the saying, “Treat it like a baby squirrel. Tight enough that it’s not going to get loose, loose enough that you’re not going to suffocate it.” you need to tuck it around just a little bit until you have smoking coming from out of there.

You don’t have to be in a super big hurry because that little ember is creating heat. So that’s convection heating all around it and drying that last 10% of water out of the material and then it becomes combustible.

  • Feed it oxygen.

You can fly it like an airplane or just blow underneath it.

With these steps provided, you can run flint and steel and you’re able to practice it even without char cloth to throw a couple sparks.

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