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Thread: Primitive Strike a Light -iron pyrite

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    Senior Member hunter63's Avatar
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    Default Primitive Strike a Light -iron pyrite

    On a cold and snowy night...did some digging.
    FYI
    Discussing fire methods along with Pyrite possibility by.. Ortiz -The Ice Man
    (And I suck at bow drills...LOL)

    I had heard about this method of fire making while reading "Clan of the Cave Bear"....By Jean M. Auel
    Part of a series of books...Recommended for primitive references... but read with a grain of salt.

    It is a novel...and a film, starring our blond heroine, Daryl Hannah (always was kind smitten...LOL)....as Alya...who single handed discovered 10000 years of technology....LOL

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Clan_of_the_Cave_Bear


    Anyway.....had a couple of hunks of pyrite in my boyhood rock collection...so tried it and did spark it...didn't catch
    my char cloth...that I use with my flint(chert) and steel.
    Seems I had been using the wrong kind of pyrite...I was using "fools gold"

    Primitive Strike a Light

    Paleolithic Stone on Stone Fire Technology.......by Susan Labiste

    http://www.primitiveways.com/marcasi...d%20flint.html

    Quote>
    I’ve heard a lot of primitive technologist proclaim that it is difficult, if not impossible, to get a fire-producing spark from any iron pyrite including marcasite. This pre-steel stone on stone technology uses a flint to strike a spark much in the same manner as flint and steel. Yet the ethnographic records, and indeed the archaeological records, show numerous examples of Stone Age “strike-a-light’s” predating the invention of steel. It seemed it must be an effective technology. If it were not more easily employed than friction, it is doubtful it would have been used. Perhaps we moderns just don’t know the details of how it was done. Still, those naysayers were folks who had no problem producing fire with flint and steel. The problem piqued my curiosity, so I began a quest to learn more. This article is an attempt to share an exploration into what it takes to produce an ember with stone on stone fire technology.< seems to have been around a long time.

    For what it worth.....

    Anyone have any marcasite?
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    Senior Member alaskabushman's Avatar
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    One of the things that always irritated me was survival/bushcrafting manuals always say to find chert or flint. None of those things in my area for probably 100 miles. So for years I was forced to buy flints for my primitive fire building. In my search for an alternative I ran into iron pyrite and it works well for me. One day while out walking I picked up a piece beach rock (I have no idea what it is) and got nice sparks from my steel and built many a fire with it. Now I often pick up random rocks to see if I get a spark. Typically I can find a good sparker in about 10 minutes. One thing that IS in my area is quartz, but so much of it is brittle and will just crumble when struck. occasionally I'll find a more durable piece and tuck it away in a pocket to go into my fire building supply box.

    One thing I discovered by accident was when I tried to break a larger quartz rock to make more manageable sized chunks. My toss put the football sized rock right into contact with another large piece of quartz. Sparks flew. I was able to consistently get sparks from two rocks, but was never able to get it to catch tinder. Those were the days before I knew how to make good char cloth, so maybe I'll have to revisit this. Some rock on rock action fire making would be a valuable skill.
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    Senior Member hunter63's Avatar
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    I carried a piece of file...(steel) for spark testing rock found on roof tops(back in my HVAC day,...we have a lot of rubber roofs with river rock(?)...and any rock I findAs we are located in a glacier moraine area...where it kinda stopped and dropped all sorts or various stone ...you never know what you will find.

    So have a good supply...as the mater of fact my favorite was found at a Rondy while digging a fire pit...camp site was a historic site...but we have camped there for years as well...so who knows?.....Where else can you dig up your lighter out of the ground?

    That was with a "steel" (not ferro rod)......so pyrite is two rocks being struck together for a spark...and I too have gotten sparks, but no joy even with some good charcloth....yet.
    So you see how I am trying to get something to catch.

    We also have hematite chert (Fe2O3) or magnetite (Fe3O4)...iron ore in the UP of Michigan......pieces can be found along Lake Michigan that are rounded red-ish heavy rocks.....

    The original kit was collected by Captain E. P. Herendeen from Inuit People in the Cape Bathurst area of Alaska,

    marcasite%20and%20flint.jpg.
    Last edited by hunter63; 12-17-2016 at 02:55 AM.
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    Senior Member alaskabushman's Avatar
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    I never tried pyrite on pyrite, just steel and pyrite. I have a couple chunks of it, maybe I'll take a crack at it. I think it would depend on how hot the sparks are. As you already know, in a flint and steel system the steel is what provides the spark, not the flint. For some reason I seem to think its around 800 degrees, but I'm not sure. How hot would a pyrite spark be? What causes the spark? Is it the same rapid oxidization that occurs with steel? Is there a material that would better take a spark than char? I use cotton t-shirts to make my char cloth, what would a primitive man have to make char? (chaga fungus maybe?) I ask because I really don't know. Certainly interesting stuff.
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    Senior Member hunter63's Avatar
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    In this case it should be the "marcasite"...form of pyrite.

    Found this vid from Ray Mears.....
    And he's using Horse hoof fungus (I think....) to catch the spark.

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    Quote Originally Posted by alaskabushman View Post
    One of the things that always irritated me was survival/bushcrafting manuals always say to find chert or flint. None of those things in my area for probably 100 miles. So for years I was forced to buy flints for my primitive fire building. In my search for an alternative I ran into iron pyrite and it works well for me. box.
    ................
    That part always bothered me as well....as in "All you have to do is"...........LOL
    Oh well...part of the fun.....

    At least we can say..."Tomorrow", and go in the house.
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    Senior Member alaskabushman's Avatar
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    Cool video. He makes it look so easy...

    I've actually seen a pyrite similar to whats in the video. On a beach in my area there are tons of small flat rocks (great for skipping) with tiny square holes in them. Upon closer inspection you'll see that there is some kind of iron pyrite or maybe iron ore that is rusting out, leaving the square holes. Pretty cool, but the pyrite is too small to work with.

    I don't mean to steer the thread off course, but is Horse Hoof fungus the same thing that we Alaskans call Conk/Punk fungus? It looks similar, but I've tried using conk with little success. I'd love it if we had Chaga here, but apparently it likes Birch trees, which we don't have in my area. Too bad, if you have birch tree the fire will practically build itself.
    There ain't too many problems you can't fix with $500 or a 30-06.

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    I hear ya...
    We do have birch....but even looking for it, can say I have never found any Chaga....Of course I was hunting.... so it was more of a casual...just keeping my eyes open.
    Must be one of those...."After you find the first one....they jump out at you."
    Horsehoof fungus-- have found a lot...seems the inter red-ish has to be dug out and torn up....like in the vid to be of any use.

    Birch Bark catches and burns very well, still need a flame......although a Ferro rod works....

    Somewhere I have a stone with an inclusion of different material...that appears to be "rusty"....may have to find and try that.
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    I believe that all this discussion, the demonstration and the museum artifacts is reinforcing the idea that primitive people were not picking up things off the ground or starting their fire building efforts from scratch each time they needed a fire. They were carefully gathering fire building materials and carrying the technology with them as they moved along.

    Just like when they would carry good flint of chert into areas where none would be found and trade routes grew up all over the world to transfer these items from one group to another even during the stone age. It is why we find grave goods like shells from the Gulf of Mexico in Minnesota and copper from the Great Lakes on the Atlantic coast.

    Fire was a basic life skill, and you carried the best idea you had seen to wherever you lived.

    The "primitive" people were carrying a kit with fungus from 30 miles away, a spindle that they carefully selected 6 months ago and 75 miles away, and a hearth board that was "just right" which they used for months until it was riddled with burned out holes. All of it carried in a greased skin pouch to protect it from the elements.

    Or in the case of Otzi, pyrite and thinly sliced fungus carried from Italy to Austria or Switzerland.

    Which presents a problem for the bushcrafter who thinks he should be able to pick up three sticks off the ground, make a bow and get fire every time he tries.

    The use of pyrites goes back at least to the ancient Greeks who named the stone. Pyrite-Pyro=fire stone.
    Last edited by kyratshooter; 12-17-2016 at 02:03 PM.
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    Senior Member hunter63's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kyratshooter View Post
    Just like when they would carry good flint of chert into areas where none would be found and trade routes grew up all over the world to transfer these items from one group to another even during the stone age. It is why we find grave goods like shells from the Gulf of Mexico in Minnesota and copper from the Great Lakes on the Atlantic coast. .........



    .........
    Which presents a problem for the bushcrafter who thinks he should be able to pick up three sticks off the ground, make a bow and get fire every time he tries.

    The use of pyrites goes back at least to the ancient Greeks who named the stone. Pyrite-Pyro=fire stone.
    Copper went even farther that that.....
    2500 bc to Europe?
    http://www.rocksandrows.com/copper-trade-2.php
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    I always enjoy the Ray Mears demonstrations. He seems willing to try methods that early cultures probably used and shows how early peoples may have used them.

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    Senior Member alaskabushman's Avatar
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    We still do the same thing, my Bic comes from France and my ferro rod probably comes from China.
    There ain't too many problems you can't fix with $500 or a 30-06.

    Him-"Whats the best knife for survival?"
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    Him-"I don't have one in my pocket."
    Me-"Exactly."

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    Senior Member hunter63's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by alaskabushman View Post
    We still do the same thing, my Bic comes from France and my ferro rod probably comes from China.
    Bhohahahaha...Your reference is most likely correct.
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    Just because I confuse easily, isn't the principle of flint & steel dependent on the steel?
    I've got some great sparks off the soft carbon steel at the pole of my ax with a hard rock, but I can't seem to get anything that will ignite natural tinder when using stainless steel. Am I using the wrong rock?

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    Senior Member hunter63's Avatar
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    Weren't really talking about stainless steel.....I hear that it will spark as well as titanium...but have not had much luck striking SS with a rock, either.

    Lots of confusion I guess when you reference "Flint"....sometimes chert, and other rocks that will spark with "steel"....mostly high carbon of some sort.
    Not to be confused with fire steel---ferro rod that with strike on most anything the is hard a sharp.

    Discussion in this case is the striking of rock on rock pyrite of some sort with more pyrite or "flint" (sparking rock)
    This method was around long before "steel" was being produced from iron ore.....or meteorites (???)
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smelti..._iron_smelting
    Whole 'nother subject.

    Often wondered who went to the trouble of cooking ore hot enough to extract the iron for the rock...

    Any rock based fire starting kit does not produce as many, or as hot as a "ferro rod" does...and needs help to catch the tinder.
    Charcloth or charred something or other) gives a much better chance of catching a spark in all cases.......than say cotton balls, cattail fluff, or dried wood dust.
    Also seems that a lot of work and different method of preserving and carrying "fire" as embers or smoldering material say a lot of how much of a PITA is was.

    If that makes any sense
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    That rock on rock stuff, wonder what grade of cotton they used to make char-cloth in a semi-sealed metal container?
    Perhaps those primitive folks were allot smarter than we give them credit for?
    I'm going to bet that OJT had a much greater meaning during the stone age. JMO.

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    Quote Originally Posted by M118LR View Post
    That rock on rock stuff, wonder what grade of cotton they used to make char-cloth in a semi-sealed metal container?
    Perhaps those primitive folks were allot smarter than we give them credit for?
    I'm going to bet that OJT had a much greater meaning during the stone age. JMO.
    I'm thinking buried material in the fire pit....as textiles have been around.

    And they did have to go to work, watch TV....or play around on a computer.....Must have been tough....

    Then of course the Annunaki may be a possible source of knowledge.
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    I'm not sure I could take Giorgio Tsoukalos seriously as an OJT instructor, but when the grading system was pass or fail and your life depended on it......
    Perhaps I should shift my paradigm.
    But we don't even have to discuss "Dog Years" for me to be long gone back in those days.
    I wonder how many of those "Stone Age" folks would have volunteered to be a contestant on any of today's "Survivor Show's"?
    Think they would have been victorious?

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    Senior Member hunter63's Avatar
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    FYI......
    Snuff method....looks viable.....

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    I was just wondering how you got the fire started prior to making the char-cloth???????????????????????

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