A LIVING HISTORY BLOG.

18TH CENTURY LIVING HISTORY IN AUSTRALIA.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Part Three. A Closer Look At Flint & Steel Fire Lighting.

What do I do if my tinder is damp or wet?

Well there are several things you can do, but the best advice I can give is don't let it get wet in the first place, and always carry extra spare tinder in your pack.

1)You can dry it in the sun, or you can put some in the fork of a low twig in a tree and let the breeze dry it.
2)You can use a sewing needle to pin it to a tree so it will dry in the sun and or breeze.
3)If it is raining place some tinder inside your frock so it will dry on the material and from your body heat.
4) sprinkle some gunpowder on the tinder and strike sparks on that (keep hands and face clear of upward flash!).

What can I do if there is no dry kindling to start a fire?

1) There usually is dry kindling to find if you know where to look and know what you are looking for. Dry leaves, grass and twigs can often be found under fallen trees and even in hollow trees. DO NOT dismiss single leaves or strands of dry grass. Collect everything and keep it dry.
2) Check dead branches still on the tree. These often dry first in the wind oir breeze. Some may even have the dead leaves still attached.
3) Always carry a candle with you which you can light from your tinderbox by dripping the wax on to the smouldering tinder and blow into flame. This lit candle can then be placed underneath damp kindling twigs so they will dry out and take fire.

This is my greased lether fire bag. In this I keep some small amount of dry kindling grass and twigs, a candle stub, and my tinderbox.

I carry my fire bag inside my greased leather belt pouch. The fire steel is tied to the buckle so it cannot become mislaid or lost.

This is another type of fire bag carried seperately on a strap over the shoulder. It is made of leather and is greased, but it will admit water if it is submerged. Note the candle that is carried in this bag, and again, the steel is tied to the bag.

This is one of three gunpowder wallets or bags that I own. At least one is always carried in my knapsack. When this greased wallet is empty of gunpowder, I use it to contain spare tinder (This is documented).

   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
 “Fierce winds and blowing snow reduced the men to huddling among large rocks, unable even to start a fire.”
Samuel Hearne, Canada, 1770.

“This induced me to resolve not to travel more by land without my gun, powder and shot, steel, spunge  (punk wood) and flint, for striking a fire…”
Patrick Campbell, 1792.

I am having trouble getting the sparks to hit the tinder.

1) Make sure you are striking the steel a downward blow with the flint, NOT striking the flint with the steel.
2) The sparks come from the steel, not from the flint.
3) Make sure you are not holding the steel too high above the tinderbox. If you are having trouble hitting the tinderbox with your hand, then you need more practice and more control. 

5 comments:

Ross Gilmore said...

I never thought of using a candle that way. That is a great idea. Thanks.

Buzzard said...

Great advice for my favourite method of fire starting, thankyou.

Le Loup said...

Good to hear you both got something out of it. Thank you for the feedback.
Regards, Keith.

Boreal Woodsrunner said...

getting my first steel next week and can not wait till i can start making fire with it ......what kind of compass is it in the picture looks almost like a sundial?

Keith H. Burgess said...

Boreal Woodsrunner. It is indeed a brass sundial compass BW.
Regards, Keith.