Flint and steel: natural tinder?

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punkrockcaveman

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Jan 28, 2017
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yorks
over the lockdown period I've been concentrating on honing my traditional fire starting skills.

I love using the flint and steel method, but I'd really like to learn how to use natural tinder rather than char cloth. Char cloth is great and takes really easy but it would be great to be able to have backup when out and about.

I've tried using charred punkwood and cramp balls but no luck, I either crush the tinder when using it in the same way as char cloth or I'm just rubbish at striking sparks onto stationary tinder.

Any tips or advice?


Thanks!
 

Mesquite

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Mar 5, 2008
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Try revising your method of using the flint and steel when using cramp balls.

Try holding the steel still in your left hand (assuming you're right handed) above the cramp ball which is on the ground and striking the flint downwards to make the sparks fall onto the cramp ball. That way you won't crush the ball and more sparks should land on it.

You can also try using charred bullrush down as an alternative to char cloth.
 
over the lockdown period I've been concentrating on honing my traditional fire starting skills.

I love using the flint and steel method, but I'd really like to learn how to use natural tinder rather than char cloth. Char cloth is great and takes really easy but it would be great to be able to have backup when out and about.

I've tried using charred punkwood and cramp balls but no luck, I either crush the tinder when using it in the same way as char cloth or I'm just rubbish at striking sparks onto stationary tinder.

Any tips or advice?


Thanks!
I hope all this information in one hit is not too overwhelming PRC, & I hope it helps.
https://woodsrunnersdiary.blogspot.com/2009/09/flint-steel-fire-lighting-for.html

If you have any questions, just ask.
Regards, Keith.
 

Robson Valley

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Nov 24, 2014
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McBride, BC
1. Lots of very fine shreds of birch bark. The hydrocarbon bark wax, suberin, will light after 2-3 months under water.
Tedious to shred but it's reliable.
2. If I had to. Hard to travel here without being in/near coniferous forest.
The finest, driest dead twigs will be low down and closest to the main tree trunk.
Lots of flammable hydrocarbon resin ducts. So you bash the Hello out of the twigs with rocks to see fine fiber.

Never wait to assemble all the far bigger fixings for a fire before striking a spark.
Get all that stuff ready to go = be an optimist!
 

punkrockcaveman

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Jan 28, 2017
313
195
yorks
Keith, are they videos from your own youtube channel? If so, fantastic job!

I've just spent my lunch break pouring over all the info in this thread, I feel like I've found some key points I need to address.

My steel is too small, and my flint is too small. This has been fine for charcloth laid tight against the flint, but I see how inefficient that is now for striking sparks downwards onto tinder. I'll post a pic of my setup later. I've got some old files that are ready to be recycled so I'll get one made asap :)

Excited to give it another whirl now!

Is punk wood the best idea? Or are there many alternatives that will work well?
 
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punkrockcaveman

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Jan 28, 2017
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WP_20200518_002.jpg

so here's my kit. Lighter is just for size reference, it's not a fire cheat honest :D

on the left is what I have been using, pretty small. On the right is what I've quickly knocked up, I had a go at throwing sparks onto the charcloth and got embers a couple of times without much effort.

I'll get out and forage some punk wood this week and get it all charred up hopefully I'll get me some embers! Excited!
 
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Keith, are they videos from your own youtube channel? If so, fantastic job!

I've just spent my lunch break pouring over all the info in this thread, I feel like I've found some key points I need to address.

My steel is too small, and my flint is too small. This has been fine for charcloth laid tight against the flint, but I see how inefficient that is now for striking sparks downwards onto tinder. I'll post a pic of my setup later. I've got some old files that are ready to be recycled so I'll get one made asap :)

Excited to give it another whirl now!

Is punk wood the best idea? Or are there many alternatives that will work well?
Yes mate, these are my videos I have made. There are other plant & fungi tinders available, but punkwood is one of the best, easiest to prepare & most common. The best one here is a polypore, one of which is Lietiporus Portentosus , which is a bracket fungus.
You will find more tinders mentioned here: https://woodsrunnersdiary.blogspot.com/2012/02/part-four-closer-look-at-flint-steel.html on my blog. Some are only native to Australia, but others are native to the UK.
More Information Here: https://woodsrunnersdiary.blogspot.com/2012/02/closer-look-at-flint-and-steel-fire.html
https://woodsrunnersdiary.blogspot.com/2012/06/tinder-tinderbox-facts.html
https://woodsrunnersdiary.blogspot.com/2017/06/18th-century-period-fire-lighting.html
https://woodsrunnersdiary.blogspot.com/2016/08/flint-steel-fire-lighting-methods.html

This is the original 18th century fire steel that I carry, as you can see it has had a lot of use in the past 300 years.

My tinderbox with a bracket fungus at the back, & charred punkwood at the front. Next to the tinderbox is a musket flint.

The Horse Hoof fungus or Fomes Fomentarius is found in the UK, but this bracket fungus is harder to prepare for use as tinder. Amadou used to be sold in the streets & at apothecary shops in the UK, also known as German Tinder.
Regards, Keith.
 
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Suffolkrafter

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Dec 25, 2019
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Keith, are they videos from your own youtube channel? If so, fantastic job!
I second that. That should use up some lockdown time, some really wonderful looking videos and website.

I made some Amadou last week after discovering loads of horses hoof in some local woodland, along with plenty of birch Polypore. They are quite beautiful brackets I think, if you're into that sort of thing. Also, I payed for it in reasonable volumes of blood. I take knife safety a little more seriously now....

I'm now waiting for a steel to arrive through the post so I can light the stuff. I'd love to get my hands on an antique steel with some history behind it.
 
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punkrockcaveman

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just to update the thread a little. I planned to forage some punk wood this week. But as luck would have it, a tree surgeon friend dropped off some rowan logs that were really punky!

So I tore out some of the best punky bits after splitting and charred them over fire (obviously using the flint and steel to get the fire going! char cloth method though) and threw out the char cloth, and filled my tin up with charred punk.

WP_20200529_001.jpg

Didn't take long for me to get a spark and get a tinder bundle lit as per Keith's method in the video above. Just want to say a huge thank you to Keith, I think you are doing a great job passing on what I consider to be very important, timeless knowledge. I'll be passing this on directly to two other bushcrafty friends, hopefully more.
 
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just to update the thread a little. I planned to forage some punk wood this week. But as luck would have it, a tree surgeon friend dropped off some rowan logs that were really punky!

So I tore out some of the best punky bits after splitting and charred them over fire (obviously using the flint and steel to get the fire going! char cloth method though) and threw out the char cloth, and filled my tin up with charred punk.

View attachment 59274

Didn't take long for me to get a spark and get a tinder bundle lit as per Keith's method in the video above. Just want to say a huge thank you to Keith, I think you are doing a great job passing on what I consider to be very important, timeless knowledge. I'll be passing this on directly to two other bushcrafty friends, hopefully more.
Thank you punkrockcaveman, very much appreciated.
Regards, Keith.
 
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punkrockcaveman

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Jan 28, 2017
313
195
yorks
I showed a friend this technique tonight. He was blown away, we converted his kit to charred punk wood, and he was so made up with the technique he lit about 4 fires :D

we both came to the conclusion, that the method was in fact easier and more reliable than using charcloth placed into a tinder bundle.

But I now have a problem, I can't stop noticing sources of punk wood all around!
 
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