A LIVING HISTORY BLOG.

18TH CENTURY LIVING HISTORY IN AUSTRALIA.

Saturday, 27 August 2016

Flint & Steel Fire Lighting Methods.


Flint & Steel Fire Lighting Methods.
Flint & steel & the use of a tinderbox has been in use since before the middle ages. One common method was to strike sparks onto tinder in the tinderbox by striking flint against steel. Once the tinder has caught the spark from the steel & produced an ember, several methods of making fire can be employed.
1.    You can hold kindling material (dry grass or similar) to the smouldering tinder & blow the kindling into flame.
2.   You can use a spunk (sulphur headed match/splint) to make fire by simply holding the sulphur tip to the smouldering tinder & blow gently.
3.   If you are using tow rag as tinder & have charred this material directly in the fire, then there will be patches of cloth that have not completely charred. If you blow on the ember on the tow rag, the uncharred parts can be blown into flame.
4.   You can hold a candle close to the smouldering ember & drip wax onto the tinder. If the tinder is punk wood or tow rag, it can then often be blown into flame.

The Tinderlighter.
Using a tinderlighter you can employ methods 2 & 3 to create fire. You can also tip the smouldering tinder into a nest of dry kindling & blow the kindling into flame. This method works best if you add additional tinder.

The Flintlock Gun.
Using the pan on the flintlock gun in the same manner as using a tinderlighter, you can make fire by adding the smouldering tinder to a kindling nest. This method is improved by adding additional tinder to the already smouldering tinder in the kindling nest. You can also use a spunk/sulphur match.

No Tinderbox Methods.
Personally I think carrying a tinderbox is a good idea, especially for processing tinder charred directly in the fire. Without a tinderbox you need to find some other method of extinguishing the smouldering tinder. This can be done by using some type of lidded container, or you can bury the tinder under dry earth. The earth does make the tinder less effective, so the method I used was to wrap the smouldering tinder in a piece of leather before burying. Using a tinderbox is the preferred method.
1.    You can place your tinder in a nest of dry kindling & strike sparks onto the tinder & blow the nest into flame.
2.   You can hold a piece of tinder material on top of a piece of flint between thumb & forefinger & strike the steel downward against the flint. This will cast sparks upward onto the tinder held on top of the flint. Once the tinder is smouldering, you can add the tinder to a kindling nest. Again, this method works best if you add additional tinder to the nest.
Detail of the altarpiece of the Saint Georges church in Haguenau, Bas-Rhin, France.

In this lower image Joseph is holding flint & tinder in his left hand, & is about to strike downward against the flint with the steel held in his right hand. Below you can see an open wooden tinderbox & some spunks/sulphur headed matches/splints/tapers.

13.   You can use plant tinders even if they are not charred, by adding “a very little” pinch of gunpowder to the piece of tinder & striking a spark onto the gunpowder. Be very careful using this method. Only use very little gunpowder, & keep your face clear of the area. The powder will ignite & start the uncharred tinder smouldering.
For further instruction please visit my video channel & check out my fire lighting videos covering all these methods above accept the "Joseph" method.