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Fire Iron Flint & Steel Kits for Primitive Fire Making

      Although I often use a bowdrill or handdrill to start fires on primitive camping trips, I virtually always bring along a good flint & steel kit too. Flint & steel kits are reasonably compact, light-weight and very reliable.

      A spark is created by striking the steel down across the sharp edge of a flint or quartz rock. The rock shears off tiny flakes of metal. The shearing, ripping action heats up the flecks of metal so much that they catch fire. The sparks are literally globs of flying, molten metal.

      The magnesium and steel kits sold at many camping stores are often called "flint & steel", but they are significantly different. First, you shave off flakes of magnesium into a pile in your tinder, then you strike a steel scraper across a "flint rod" which is typically embedded in one side of the magnesium bar. The "flint rod" is made from misch metal, which is made from rare earth elements. Sparks from the misch metal ignites the magnesium, which burns hot and ignites the tinder.

      To nurture a tiny flint and steel spark into a fire, the spark is first caught on a material called char cloth. Char cloth is usually made from 100% cotton material that has been previously charred in the fire and smothered. This partially burned material is easily re-ignited by the tiny spark. The cloth is then transferred to a tinder bundle and blown into flame.

      To make a flint and steel fire, first practice making sparks. These instructions are for right-handers. The opposite works for lefties: Hold the spark rock in your left hand so that a sharp edge is laying horizontally and facing your right hand. Hold the striker vertically in your right hand and practice taking one good deliberate stroke at a time. Bring the striker nearly straight down so that the sharp edge of the stone shaves off microscopic bits of metal. Following through with long strokes seems to help. When you get good sparks then you are ready for the char cloth. To catch the sparks, hold a piece of char cloth the size of a postage-stamp on top of the rock with your thumb. Hold it as close as possible to the edge without interfering with the striker.

      When a spark catches on the cloth and glows cherry red, blow gently to help it spread. Next, place it in the tinder bundle and blow it into flame. Be sure and put your flint and steel kit in a safe place as soon as you have your spark.

      Each flint & steel kit includes a steel, a flint rock, char cloth, raw cotton, tinder and instructions. The steel strikers are made entirely of high carbon steel and hardened all the way through, this way they last until there is no more striker left. The kits come in a round metal container. Manufactured by enterprising Eagle Scouts Kristopher Goodrich and Rob Hogg. Please see the book Participating in Nature for additional instructions.

One Fire Iron Flint & Steel Kit     $20.00     Quantity:
Set of 4 Extra Flint Rocks     $5.00     Quantity:
Participating in Nature: Wilderness Survival and Primitive Living Skills     $30.00     Quantity:
Wholesale Discount 
Package of 5 Flint & Steel Kits at $16/kit     $80.00     Quantity:

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Oakum Tinder

      Once you have a hot coal from your flint & steel kit, fire piston, bowdrill or handdrill set, you will need to place the glowing ember into a nest of light, dry, fibrous materials, called a tinder bundle. Good tinder bundles can be made from dead grass, sagebrush bark, or the inner bark of a dead cottonwood tree, and many other materials. Just look around for dry, fluffy materials and shape them into a nest-like form. In the mountains you can use "pine fluff", the dried flower parts of the pines which often accumulate in small piles around logs and boulders. As a curiosity, very fine steel wool can also be used. The steel fibers are so fine that they catch fire and burn, one of those things you almost have to see to believe.

      We hope that you the reader will learn to make your own primitive fire sets and collect your own tinder, but to get started you may want to use our quality "oakum" tinder. Oakum is made of fibers from the jute plant. Historically, oakum has been manufactured for plumbers, heavily greased and used for packing around steel pipe fittings. The oakum we have is ungreased, plain dry fibers. A small amount of oakum tinder is included with the flint & steel kits.

      Make your tinder bundle into the form of a nest with a hole in the center to place the coal. Cradle the bundle in your hands, gently closing the front to wrap the coal inside. Be careful to not smother it, but only to blanket it to keep it warm. Blow with steady, even breaths between your hands and let the smoke spill out the backside until you have a flaming bundle, a ball of fire. Then place it in the fire pit and start adding small twigs and then bigger sticks.

      Our oakum tinder is also helpful for group events, when a large amount of tinder is needed. We sell oakum by the pound. One pound makes about twelve average-size tinder bundles. Just measure about 10 to 12 inches of oakum, un-twist and pull-apart to obtain a suitable length. We ship the oakum in recycled plastic bags (bread bags, etc.).

1 lb. Oakum Tinder     $8.00     Quantity:

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Primitive Fire-Starter Package Discounts

The Essential Primitive Fire Starter Package--Save $19:
(This package counts as 6 items for calculating postage.)

The Deluxe Primitive Fire-Starter Package--Save $26:
(This package counts as 7 items for calculating postage.)
Includes everything in The Essential Primitive Fire Starter Package, plus:

Essential Primitive Fire-Starter Package (6 items, save $19)     $105.00     Quantity:
Deluxe Primitive Fire-Starter Package (7 items, save $26)     $125.00     Quantity:

Also see these related pages:
Bowdrill and Handdrill Sets for Primitive Fire Making
Fire Plow Sets for Primitive Fire Making
Fire Pistons for Primitive Fire Making
Swedish Fire Steel Emergency Fire Starter
Fresnel Lens Card Magnifier

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PO Box 684
Silver Star, MT 59751

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