Instructables
Picture of Using Swedish FireSteel to ignite tinder
This instructable will introduce the basics of starting a fire by method of Swedish FireSteel. FireSteel easily ignites damp tinder with a spark in excess of 3000 degrees Celsius (5500 degrees Fahrenheit). This method of fire making is also beneficial when on a prolonged outing as a continual source of matches or fluid would not be available.
 
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Step 1: Get it!

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To create a flame we will need only three very basic items:

- fuel (in this case a stick of oak)
- a knife or scraper of some type (this is only needed if you plan to use wood as a fuel)
- Swedish FireSteel

My FireSteel is made by Light My FireLight My Fire. This is the same company which created the original Swedish FireSteel for the Swedish Department of Defense.

Step 2: Shave it!

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For tinder we will be making wood shavings. The texture of our shavings will not be quite as fine as sawdust but our intent is to create as "fluffy" a tinder as possible. "Fluffy" tinder traps the oxygen in the air between its particles creating conditions suitable for combustion even if the shavings are from damp wood.

This tinder is procured simply by rubbing the blade of a knife perpendicular to the grain at a 90 degree angle to the surface of the wood. A handful of shavings is more than adequate for making a simple fire.

This is the easiest and most readily available source of tinder, given that you have wood.
Polaris963 months ago

The FireSteel is SUPER useful as long as you take the time the practice with it. I grew up in the woods, but always thought these things were garbage until I started teaching Survival. Here are things I discovered along the way:

1. The striker can be any "hard" object that shaves sparks. It doesn't need to be carbon steel (the Ferro Rod has steel in it, already).

2. The easiest "first timer" material is drier lint or cotton balls. Even if you want to use natural tinder, practice with cotton balls to become comfortable with throwing sparks.

3. Focus on Containing and Directing the sparks from the steel. An easy way to do this is by holding the striker and pulling the FireSteel against the striker. Think of the striker as a mirror which should be reflecting the sparks into your tinder.

4. A good first Natural tinder is an old charred log (it should be dry). place the rod firmly into the center of the charred part and use the back of a knife to scrape sparks down onto the char. This will give you a coal, which you can blow into flame as with flint and steel.

Finally, I don't like magnesium blocks because the weight would be better spent carrying a second Ferro Rod. Magnesium works great but it's really no different than packing a lighter. Instead of the magnesium block, buy a 6pack of bic lighters. They work better for the same price.

jgiegerich4 years ago
OK. What's the trick? I've tried every kind of tinder I know of, all of them sure fire burners when ignited, stuff I've used many times in the wild using a match to ignite. So far I can't get anything to catch on fire using the Lightmyfire firesteel. Lots of sparks. No fire. Help!
I have worked at a boy scout camp in southern Ohio for 2 years teaching camping skills from knot tying to axe safety but a large portion of what I taught was fire starting. For magnesium fire starters, like your firesteel, a twine or jute nest works best. To make these you should start out by getting some natural farmers jute or twine(this can be found at most superstores in the tools or home section). Cut this string into small 1 ft lengths and start unraveling them to make your nest. This nest will eventually get you flame and act as your match, so the nest itself will light your tender, not the firesteel. To start a good fire you should have a nest about as big as both of your hands put together. Put the magnesium bar directly in the nest and scrape with the steel, spraying the nest with sparks. Once you get some of the nest caught, blow into it to get flame. Now start piling on that tinder and get that fire going! I hope this was helpful in getting your fire started.
Please be aware that the kind of twine commonly used on farms today (known as baler twine), contains pesticides to prevent rot and repel rodents (to keep mice from eating the strings in a pile of hay). If you are using a tiny piece to light a fire in a survival situation, probably not a concern. But if you use this every weekend, and probably blow on the fire to get it going, pesticides may be a bit of a concern.
Get a magnesium fire starter, they work a thousand times better. All you have to do is scrape a bit of magnesium (a pile about the size of a quarter) and use the flint rod to light it, they works amazingly I use them a lot.
strods4 years ago
I'm an avid and long standing camper, also a scout master.  I have found that the fire steal as noted above or available at Duluth Trading and the like are THE BEST fire starters, after matches and lighters and the like, and are my personal favorite.
http://www.duluthtrading.com/search/searchresults/57001.aspx?feature=product_3&kw=firesteel&processor=content

That being said, I will say that for me it normally takes time.  The trade off for a fire started that lasts practically forever is that it is a little slower to start a fire.  I think that's why they called it an art form back in the day.

For advice, I would suggest patience, and realize that it will take a bit.  My average is 5 to 15 minutes.  For tips:
I suggest trying to get something more along the variety of leaves, grass, cotton, pocket lint.
Try to make a bowl or ball of materal to catch the sparks.  Watch the tinder closely as as you see smoke and smoldering (which you will likely see first) then start blowing to encourage that to flame.
Use the back of the knife and not the blade.
cottonballs are a good fire starter
What I did was sharpen the side of the steel striker and use that as your knife.
nice, very resourceful
Thanks
bylerfamily5 years ago
Note:Firesteel is magnesium.It can be struck on then lit.
lackofmotive (author)  bylerfamily5 years ago
Note: While the Firesteel alloy may contain magnesium, magnesium will not self-ignite by friction alone and needs a very hot spark to ignite, thus the use of flint or other such compound in the Firesteel. This is what makes Firesteel so valuable, the ability to create a high temp spark without the magnesium filing and prep-work found with ordinary magnesium/flint starters.
I meant that firesteel,when the fire is going it can be burned to.
nc5275 years ago
If you guys cant afford a lightmyfire firesteel, then go to dealextreme.com. They have the "scout model" (3,000 strikes) for 3.50, and the army model 12,000 strikes for 5.50. I got the srmy and i love it.
rorionp5 years ago
Hey don't use the sharp side if at all possible. Chances are that If you need to make a fire this way your going to need your blade as sharp as possible. Also practice, its not that easy when your cold and wet an night is coming fast.
kraM6 years ago
oh i forgot to mention nice instructable! its simple, to the point, & easy to follow for the non outdoor people or who are new to camping stuff i suppose. nice pics too
kraM6 years ago
i have an Ozark Trail magnesium fire starter witch is a bar of magnesium with a length of that fire steel on one side, but isntead of lust stricking the fire steel you make a pile of magnesium shavings witch eliminates the need for tinder the results are great i have averaged between 1-3 strikes for a sucesful fire
chuckr446 years ago
Neat. The thing with the wood handle just looks like a steel file. Is it a steel file? Or magnesium?
lackofmotive (author)  chuckr446 years ago
It is an artificial flint or "FireSteel" produced by "Light My Fire"
Wade Tarzia6 years ago
Great! Essential know-how for the end of the world. Everytime my brother-in-law goes home to N. Ireland I have him bring me another piece of flint from the beach, for making stone tools with, but I really need to try flint and steel too. Have you tried that even more primeval method? Why oak, by the bye? Is for the natural oils? Everybody, go out and read Cormac McCarthy's book The Road, and then you will really want to know this stuff for when you are on The Road. The zombies are real, by the bye ;-)
lackofmotive (author)  Wade Tarzia6 years ago
Thank you! The oak is not necessary. Oak is what those ever-disposable wood pallets are made of, which is a great source of wood for projects like this instructable. The strip was leftover from the cutting of ribs for our Greenland kayaks. As far as your comment on natural oils, I would assume some woods would ignite much more easily than others. Perhaps another instructable for this experiment?
AWESOME. The pictures RULE. Great job. And I was going to add it to the Hobo Life Group, but xtank5 beat me. Awesome job.
xtank56 years ago
I like it alot. I have a Swedish Firesteel for my survival kit but I don't quite know how to use it exactly. I get the strike the steel part but with what part of the steel? The slightly jagged part or the other side thats like a scraping knife? BTW this is SO going in the Hobo Life Group.
lackofmotive (author)  xtank56 years ago
Thanks, I edited the portion you are referring to. I hope it is much more clear. Thanks for the comment. I would be honored to have this in the Hobo Life Group.
Thanks for making that clear. I just didn't know before. Now it makes sense to me better.
Saint6 years ago
If you have some extra space, an old film canister with the remains of a burned t-shirt will make great emergency tinder.
hammerhead6 years ago
I replaced the striker with a small can opener. Works just as well as the original striker with the added ability to, well, open cans. It's the equivalent of an American P-38 which i presume should work as well.
See link for pic.

http://www.naturkompaniet.se/index.asp?SectionId=1154
If only your username were "Tim the Enchanter"