Starting fires from scratch is a primitive skill still practiced today by survival specialists, hobbyists and even the average camper. There are a few ways to start a fire without combustible chemicals such as matches or lighter fluid. One of these methods is called flint and steel; however, flint is just one the many types of rocks that can be used with this method.
To start a fire without matches or lighter fluid, you'll need a certain type of rock and steel. The type of rock most commonly used in fire starting is flint or any type of rock in the flint family, such as quartz, chert, obsidian, agate or jasper. Other stones also have been known to work. The main criterion is that the rock has a high silica content to be harder than the steel.
You can't always tell how hard a rock is by feeling it. Testing the fire-starting capability of a few types of rocks is one way to learn which are the most effective. Another option is to ask a local expert on flint and steel fire starting, or ask a local geologist. Some types of fire-starting stones can be found at rock and mineral shops and lapidary shops. You can also try to find a rock whenever you need to make a fire, or, if there's a small-size rock that you like, there's the option of keeping it handy. When searching for rocks, good places to look include river beds and rocky slopes near hills and mountains.
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Facts on Steel
A piece of high carbon steel is also required. This type of steel can be purchased at a specialty camping/survival shop or online supplier. Other types of steel are often too soft to produce a spark. Specialty camping/survival suppliers, such as grannystore.com, carry special flint and steel kits that can be purchased.
Once you're ready to give fire starting a try, first break off a corner of the stone to make a sharp edge. The edge makes it easier for the stone to shave off tiny bits of the steel that, with the help of friction, create the needed spark. In addition, you'll need tinder, which is a small bunch of kindling, to catch the sparks and start the fire. Recommended tinder materials are any dead, dry plant material or old, charred cotton cloth.