Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Flint and Steel Fire Lighting

I swapped John (Sticks65) a couple of whetstones for one of his Flint-steels 
which arrived today, Superb ! the house hot water and central heating is via a solid fuel stove in the front room which is lit each time with flint and steel sparks onto char cloth
here’s the steel and a leather pouch it came with (as a nice touch) along with a tinder tin of mine and a piece of flint, there’s squares of char cloth in the lid.The char cloth is made by heating small squares of cotton ( I find an old towel perfect) in a tin with a small hole in an air tight lid, in the fire, as long as there’s smoke which lights coming out off the hole it’s fine when the flame dies right down block the hole ( I use a coin ) and let the tin cool down, resulting in char cloth, which will catch and glow with the smallest spark.
The sparks ( John to correct me , I’ve never done it though it’s job 327 on the list, where doe’s time go ? ) are a result of after forging a high carbon steel, old files are great, it’s heated up to above a point where a magnet will not stick to it for a few minutes, which causes the carbon atoms to flow together and grow it’s then quenched which locks the carbon in large (bits) ? so that a glancing fast strike across a sharp piece of Flint (which is harder) cuts a tiny sliver of Carbon particles off which ignite with the heat of the friction generated, and if you hold a piece of char cloth on top of the flint with a thumb in one hand and the steel between finger and thumb in the other hand and a fast flick passed trying to shave off the tiniest fraction, with practice one will land onto the char cloth and begin to smoulder.Here's John's in action
You can see a Sulphur match waiting on top of the stove. I make these by dipping spills into molten Sulphur,
 which is how it was done since before the Romans, strike anywhere matches only being around the last 100 years or so, but touch the end of a Sulphur match onto the glowing char cloth and you hardly need to blow they light that easy, then you can light candle, Rushlights,
 pipe etc. with precision, rather than using a birds nest bundle of tinder which is fine out in the woods
Back to tonights fire after spark landed on char cloth and sulphur match lit ( in holder only to photograph) you can just see char cloth glowing on hearth, job's a gud un ! thanks Sticks65
cheers all, just thought I'd share Danny


  1. Nice one Danny.

    Looks very cosy and you have a great collection of steels.

    Ive also made and used sulphur matches and they work really well,have to make some soon as I ran out ages ago but never got around to making more,thanks for the reminder.

    I have to say flint and steel is my favourite fire lighting method.

    Dan when I get my forge sorted Ill get to making some more steels,when I do Ill let you know as I want to make a few different designs from different countries and time periods.

    Ive put a post up about the Whetstones on my website.

    Thanks for trading with me and I really like the Whetstones.

    Happy sparking Matey.


  2. Absolutely amazing. I have a log burner and just use a gas lighter. Sometimes a blowlamp. I don’t think i have the patience for all that, but it’s good to know that some people have.

  3. It's away of slowing down time and turning off the frantic "rat race" when we moved in here 27 years ago we didn't have the electric turned on for 6 years !

  4. I bet they still sent you a bill! Ha

  5. No ! when we moved in we got the electric to remove their main (with seal) fuse and we got the gas board to remove their meter and cap the pipe,this meant we didn't have to pay a 1/4'ly standing charge we still have a full size cooker running on 47KG. Propane bottles which last a good 8 months. I forget the exact sum but in the 1980’s we were a few pounds better off buying Propane than paying the standing charge and we would have had to buy the gas on top of that as well. So when folk saw the cooker and asked how much it cost to run we used to say it’s not only free we’ve saved £xxx pounds.

  6. Oh i forget to say your dead on the nail about how the striker works,you would be suprised how many people think its the flint being shaved rather than the steel.

  7. Thank you again for all the knowledge you distribute,Good post. I was very interested in the article, it's quite inspiring I should admit. I like visiting you site since I always come across interesting articles like this one.Great Job, I greatly appreciate that.Do Keep sharing! Regards,

    1. Thanks for the comment thats why I started this Blog - to share my trips out and bits and pieces I've learnt over the last 65+ years
      Best wishes Danny