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Thread: Flint and steel fire.. what do I do wrong?

  1. #1
    Junior Member dutch hermit's Avatar
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    Default Flint and steel fire.. what do I do wrong?

    Hey guys, Lately I'm trying to create sparks from a couple of stones I gathered a year ago. I saw them laying around and I naturaly assumed it was flint.. Dull and white on the outside, shiny and black which a glassy look on the inside.
    Yesterday I took my time in order to get sparks but it did not work at all. I do not have a traditional striker but I used my mora compagnion, my opinel and even my mora crooked knife in order to get a spark.. All these knives are carbon steel.. what am I doing wrong?.. It hit the flint on a sharp edge and it should work in my opinion. I even tried flint on flint and stupidly enough that did gave me a very few sparks every now and then (they don't 'fly off' and die immediately).

    Am I doing the technique wrong?
    I have seen a dozen tutorials on youtube and I've read about how it works.. I get to think there might be some secret behind the technique I don't know about.

    Could it be that the piece of flint is in fact not flint at all?
    It looks like flint and it acts like flint aswell, during the striking a thin flake broke off asif I was knapping it. But could it be that it's a different type of stone and that thats the problem?
    I can post a photo of what the stone looks like.

    I hope someone can help me out here, my arm is all sore from all the hard work (sounds disgusting hehe) and there must be some tips and tricks you guys know about

    Thank you in advance
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    Senior Member hunter63's Avatar
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    The stone (flint) should "shave off" small fillings of steel, that's the "spark'.

    My suggestion is find a file or hack saw blade, something high carbon that we know will spark to start with, find a sharp edge on your rock, hold a 90 degree angle, and strike down with the 'steel"
    Some reverse this.

    Very good vid on this, by Crash:
    http://www.wilderness-survival.net/f...-Natural-Flint
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    Senior Member kyratshooter's Avatar
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    Knife blades are often chancy, sometimes they work and sometimes they don't.

    The only steel I have found that works every time, without question, is a good quality file.

    It is best to grind one thin edge of the file smooth.

    Strike the smooth edge a glancing blow with a sharp edge of the flint.

    Charcloth is the best material for catching the sparks.

    There are thousands of U-tube videos on F&S firemaking, most are pretty good. Follow their instructions and you should have a fire in no time.

    F&S kits are not expensive and available from many scources.

    http://www.primitivefire.com/Fire-n-...Kit_p_106.html
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    Senior Member Stiffy's Avatar
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    As stated in the previous two posts, a file works good. I sent for a 'genuine' steel striker, and I like it better than the file, not because it works any better, but because the "C" shape is easier for me to use.
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    Striking iron works better than steel.

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    Senior Member kyratshooter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cwi555 View Post
    Striking iron works better than steel.
    One might get a spark every now or then using Iron, but for consistant hot sparks it has to be steel, and very hard steel.

    That is why knife blades are hit and miss, their blades are too soft.
    Last edited by kyratshooter; 02-23-2013 at 07:35 PM.
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    Super Moderater RangerXanatos's Avatar
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    If it's in your area, a sharp piece of quartz will produce some nice sparks. Try that and compare the sparks with what you think is flint. Carbon steel Mora's will give a spark but as they are a knife, they can be awkward to hold. My guess is that you are anxious with the blade. I've done a fire with quartz and a Mora, but I was still anxious with the holding of it.
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    Senior Member kyratshooter's Avatar
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    Here's a tip to soothe those jettery nerves and give a bit of safety margin;

    Stick the Mora into a log or chunk of wood.

    Hold the handle gently to stabilize the knife.

    Hit the spine with the flint and see where the sparks land.

    Place your charcloth on the surface where the sparks are landing and tip the knife a bit to guide the sparks into the charcloth.


    I certainly hope the OP is not striking the sharp edge of his blade!

    I have an Opinel that works well in the closed position.
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    Senior Member jfeatherjohn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kyratshooter View Post
    Here's a tip to soothe those jettery nerves and give a bit of safety margin;

    Stick the Mora into a log or chunk of wood.

    Hold the handle gently to stabilize the knife.

    Hit the spine with the flint and see where the sparks land.

    Place your charcloth on the surface where the sparks are landing and tip the knife a bit to guide the sparks into the charcloth.


    I certainly hope the OP is not striking the sharp edge of his blade!

    I have an Opinel that works well in the closed position.
    That's about the only reason I have an Opinel. A friend struck flint with his closed knife and I bought one the next day.
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    Super Moderator crashdive123's Avatar
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    My little Case folder is made of carbon steel and does a fine job while closed.
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    Senior Member kyratshooter's Avatar
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    When I was a kid, and all the knives were made of carbin steel, we could always count in the backspring to spark. You could open the blade half way and make the backspring elevate a little and get a good shower of sparks.

    Not poassible now that most cheap knives are made of stainless.
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  12. #12
    Senior Member Thaddius Bickerton's Avatar
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    I taught my kids to hold a hunk of quartz and hold the file like a knife and try to hit it so the front flat edge just barely struck the quarts a glancing blow.

    It takes a solid flick, and a glancing blow to throw a spark, and a lot harder hit than a love pat, but not violent.

    the harder the steel the better the spark thrown (a file is about perfect if you have an old worn 6 or 8 inch one, or a piece of one that broke.

    JMTC<YMMV

    It is like learning to ride a bike, once you do it and feel it, it becomes easy to reproduce it, but until you do it yourself you not understand. No mystery, just worry about making sparks, the fire part comes after you can get consistent sparks and control getting them onto your charcloth.

    I don't know if this will help, but back in the day, on cold mornings it was a common pick on people thing for one boy to try to flick his hand real fast and barely touch the tip of another boy's ear (picking at girls was a good way to get your rear end lifted by the closest teacher, Goodness forbid the principal, and if Dad heard you messed with a girl you would be eating standing up for a while)

    It is that kind of fast flick / barely touch the steel that causes the small molecules of iron to fly off and then oxydize (rust) so fast it throws the spark.

    Think of trying to use the flint to shave off a one molecule thin slice of iron, a sharpish edge and a proper angle and the right speed cause this to happen. Not a hard press but a fast quick flick very shallow into the metal.

    At least that is what I do, not sure if I actually manage to express it right, but

    once you feel it it will belong to you from then on just like riding a bike.

    Hope to hear ya got your first fire, it feels like you just won a race, or similar.

    I almost guarantee that you will have a silly grin when you manage it.

    Thad
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