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How to Start a Fire Using Flint and Steel

how to start a fire with flint and steel

How to Start a Fire Using Flint and Steel

Whether you are out in the woods hunting, camping, or hiking, being prepared is of the utmost importance to you. It may seem like fun and games to some, but you know just how unforgiving nature can be. To ensure you’re always prepared, you need to know what is the proper way to start a fire, and more importantly, how to make a fire using flint and steel. You may not always have access to a lighter, and the matches you brought may get wet in a rainstorm.

Whenever you venture into the woods or any remote area where you could become stranded, carrying flint and steel in your go-bag is mandatory.

If you have never actually started a fire using flint and steel, or it has just been a while, now is the perfect time to learn the proper techniques. Following along as we teach you the invaluable skill of how to start a fire with flint and steel.

Gathering Materials

The first step in starting any fire is to gather materials and prepare a site for the fire. Create a firepit by clearing away grass, brush, and any other combustible materials until you come to bare dirt. Dig a couple inches down in the dirt and use the excess dirt to create a mound around the fire area. If there are good size rocks nearby, you can add those to make a nice protective barrier around your pit.

Before beginning the process of starting your fire, gather the materials you will need and place them nearby. This way you’re prepared to build the fire when you get a spark and flame. Gather a variety of combustible materials, including twigs, branches, dried grass, tree bark, limbs, and larger logs. The drier the materials the better.

Make a Tinder Bundle

Using the smaller items you gathered, make a tinder bundle, aka a “bird’s nest.” Again, the key here is to make sure everything you use is dry. Dried leaves and dead grasses work great, as do dried tree bark, wood shavings, and small twigs. With your materials, create a small, circular bundle and place in your firepit.

Using a Char Cloth

A char cloth is exactly what it sounds like—a piece of cloth made of natural fibers that is used to catch a spark and ignite the tinder bundle. You can make your own char cloth, but it needs to be done ahead of time. Linen and cotton cut into three-inch squares work best. However, you can also purchase premade char cloth that works great. 

How to Strike Your Flint and Steel

This may seem like a no-brainer, but there are a couple of tricks to make sure you’re striking the flint and steel in the most efficient way possible. Many people assume you must be ultra-aggressive and strike the flint against the steel as hard as possible. Not the case. A long, consistent stroke works best for producing sparks quickly. To do so, angle the flint upwards toward the steel and accelerate the steel against the flint. This firm strike should produce the fizzing sparks you want.

Once you have acquired the proper technique and used flint and steel, you will quickly become proficient in the skill. However, before heading off into the woods, you should spend some time at home practicing.

Feeding the Fire

By striking the flint and steel, you have created sparks over your char cloth. The char cloth should begin smoking, at which time you want to drop your flint and steel and transfer the smoking char cloth to your tinder bundle.

Place the char cloth in the middle of your tinder bundle and cup it with your hands so the sparks and embers do not burn out. You will now begin blowing on the char cloth to ignite the tinder bundle. Do not use short, quick breaths, as these may blow out the embers. Using long, consistent breaths, blow on the char cloth to ignite the tinder bundle. Give it a bit of time to catch fire and as the flames begin, feed your fire with the kindling you’ve gathered. As the fire grows, add in the larger pieces of wood and logs until your fire is humming along nicely, ready to provide you with warmth and the ability to boil water and cook food.

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