How to Make a Flint & Steel Fire Starter

How to Make a Flint & Steel Fire StarterA fire may mean the difference between life and death when in the back country. Fire is a means for warmth, cooked food and safe boiled water, and it helps keep predators away from your camp. While a match or lighter may seem like a safe bet, more often than not they get wet and will no longer work. Flint and steel can be dried and reused time and time again. The final element to a flint and steel fire starter is char cloth --- it is not necessary to starting a fire but makes the job much easier.


Difficulty: Moderately Challenging

Things You’ll Need:
  • Metal can
  • Nail
  • Old t-shirt
  • Scissors
  • Grill
  • Flint
  • Steel file
  • Tinder
  • Waterproof containers
Step 1
Find a metal can with a tight-fitting lid, such as a mint container or 35mm film reel box. Poke a single hole in the center with a nail.
Step 2
Cut old t-shirts or terry cloth towels into 2-inch squares. Place them in the metal can loosely but fill the can to the top then put the lid on.
Step 3
Place the can in the center of the flames on a lit gas or charcoal grill or in the fireplace. Allow the can and the cloth inside to cook until black smoke quits issuing from the hole in the can's lid.
Step 4
Allow the can to cool then remove the lid and your char cloth. Check that the cloth is evenly blackened and doesn't crumble to ash which means you must try again. The cloth should be black and still fairly sturdy.
Step 5
Choose your flint and steel. Use any piece of flint including gunflints. Use an old metal file or other piece of tempered high-carbon steel.
Step 6
Keep the flint and steel in a water-resistant bag. Place the char cloth and some wood shavings or other tinder into a waterproof container.
Step 7
Use by creating a nest with the tinder about the same size as an egg. Poke an indentation into the nest and place a square of char cloth on it then set it on the ground. Strike the edge of your steel with the flint to make a spark, angling it so it lands on the char cloth. Once a spark lands, blow on it until the tinder catches fire then set it on your prepared kindling to start your fire.

Tips & Warnings

Keep a candle in your fire starting kit. Light the candle first from the tinder so if the tinder blows out you still have a flame to start your fire with.
Use shredded bark, grass and other easy to light items as tinder.
Keep a bucket of water nearby in case a spark ignites where it shouldn't.

Article Written By Jenny Harrington

Jenny Harrington has been a freelance writer since 2006. Her published articles have appeared in various print and online publications. Previously, she owned her own business, selling handmade items online, wholesale and at crafts fairs. Harrington's specialties include small business information, crafting, decorating and gardening.

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