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As I peruse the web forums, one misuse of terminology turns up time and again. The blunder is in the use of the term “flint and steel” being used interchangeably with the terms “ferro rod” or “metal match.”

htak_08_may_022b.jpgTrue Flint and Steel
Flint and steel is a method of making fire that has been around since the early Iron Age. It is most associated with frontiersmen and mountain men, but was also the method that grandma used to fire up her cook stove back east as well. Fire is produced by striking a piece of very high-carbon steel against a piece of sharp-edged flint, chert or other stone that is even harder than the striker. The “spark” is actually a tiny fragment of steel shaved off the striker by the sharp edge of the stone and heated to white hot by the friction of the impact. This spark must then be caught in some material, usually “char cloth,” that will begin glowing without a flame. The glowing coal is transferred to a tinder nest and is blown into a flame. An accomplished flint and steel user with proper materials can accomplish this in seconds. The process is impressive and, as with all fire starting, there is a bit of magic in it.

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As I peruse the web forums, one misuse of terminology turns up time and again.…