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.).
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