Friday, 5 February 2010

18th century Wilderness Survival. Then and Now. Making Fire.

I am constantly seeing video clips of people making fire with what they call "flint and steel", but in fact they are not flint and steel, they are using a "ferral rod" (my term!). I also note that they are using such things as vasaline impregnated cotton wool, and strips of innertube rubber!!!
It is not so much that these methods do not work, they do, but what happens when the cotton wool and rubber strips run out?
The reason I advise using the real flint and steel, is because in learning this method you will learn a lot more about plant tinders, wet weather fire lighting, and fire lighting in general. The knowledge you gain from using flint, steel and tinderbox will enable you to be better at survival fire lighting even when using matches of a lighter or even the "ferral rod"!

Author's brass tinderbox and early 18th century steel.

The open tinderbox with charred tinder, uncharred tinder and a musket flint.

The author's greased fire-bag, containing tinderbox, and a little kindling such as dried grass and twigs.

The author's belt pouch in which he carries his fire-bag, steel, a beeswax candle stubb for lighting and placing under damp kindling, and fishing tackle. The steel is tied to the buckle of the pouch, you can just see the leather thong in this image. The steel is permanently tied to this belt pouch so it will not get lost. When sparks are caught on the tinder in the tinderbox, the steel can be just dropped without fear of losing it and the kindling grass can be held to the smouldering tinder and blown into flame.

The author's gunpowder wallet or bag. These are used for carrying extra gunpowder in the knapsack, but when empty they can also be used for storing spare tinder.

“ takes fire readily from the spark of a steel: but it is much improved by being kept dry in a bag that has contained gunpowder.”

Samuel Hearne, Northern Canada, 1772


Murphyfish said...

Hey Le Loup,
Great informative post (as usual), and you're correct to point out that knowing how to gather and use natural tinder is a skill well worth having.

Le Loup said...

Thanks for your comment John, Appreciated.
Le Loup.