How to Start a Fire Using Flint and Steel




Please note that this should only be done with parental supervision. Starting a fire indoors can lead to building fires. Always perform outdoors.

Step 1: Find the Right Location

Select a location that can maintain a fire safely. Optimal locations are fire pits, rock pits, or holes that have been dug into the ground. It is best to select an area where the wind is minimal to none. Choose a designated area that is not close to dry grass or trees.

Step 2: Prepare the Site

For safety precautions, always have water set aside within 50 feet of the fire pit. If there is no access to water, use a shovel to throw dirt onto the fire if anything happens to get out of hand. Water or dirt can also be used to extinguish the flame after use.

Step 3: Find the Right Materials

When starting a fire, the materials being used should be dead and dry. Use a hacksaw, hatchet, or an ax to splinter wood into small, medium, and large pieces. The small pieces should be slivers ranging from 2-12 inches in length. The medium wood is the size of twigs smaller than the size of your pinky finger, and the large wood has a diameter of 2-10 inches. As the main fire starter, use dry grasses, orange (dead) pine needles, or paper. If wood being used has green underneath the bark or bends easily, it will be very difficult to start a fire. These signify that the wood is still alive and has moisture throughout the particles.

Step 4: Arrange the Material

Make a bed of dry material topped with the small splinters of previously cut wood. Be sure to slightly spread out your material, as oxygen is absolutely necessary to start a fire. A handful of each material should be a good starting point.

Step 5: Adding Magnesium Shavings

Using the toothed side of your tool, scrape the bottom side of the magnesium block. Angle your tool towards the center of the prepared material, and add shavings until they can be visibly seen. Magnesium is highly combustible, so add shavings as per preference.

Step 6: Position, Angle, and Pressure

Flip the magnesium block over so that the cylindrical mold is on now facing up. Hold the magnesium block in one hand, and your striker in the other. Use the smooth side of the striker to slide down the cylindrical bar. Angle the striker away from your body and firmly slide the striker on the cylindrical bar until sparks are generated. Keep in mind that this takes a fair amount of force and friction, so don't be shy to use some elbow grease. The closer you can strike to your material, the better.

Step 7: Slightly Blow on Sparks

Once sparks have came into contact with your material, it is time to begin adequately fueling the sparks. If needed, slightly blow on the sparks until a small flame is established and your material begins to smoke.

Step 8: Fuel the Fire

Slowly add small swigs, dry grasses, or fire-friendly materials to allow for the flame to grow. Be sure not to overwhelm the small flame, as adding too much material at once will cause the flame to become smothered and possibly burn out.

Step 9: Manage the Fire

Once the flame has taken a hold to the material, begin to add the medium and large pieces of wood to the fire. Add more small twigs or dry materials if needed.

Step 10: Extinguish the Fire

Individuals may choose to wait for the fire to burn out, or to use water or dirt to put the fire out safely. Before leaving the fire pit, be sure that all hot coals are now cold. This ensures that the fire cannot start again.



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    8 Discussions


    Tip 8 months ago

    Clean out you fire pit, it also appears the last time you had a fire you put it out, let your fires burn down so you pit will stay clean!


    8 months ago

    Nicely made instructable, simple easy to follow. However, this is not flint and steel, your actually using Ferrocerium which is a synthetic pyrophoric alloy and steel. This is very misleading for someone who doesn’t know much about this subject.


    9 months ago on Step 10

    This is starting a fire using magnesium as tinder source and a ferrocerium rod and a striker to create the spark. Flint and steel fires require high-carbon steel to provide the spark and flint (or other hard, sharp rock) as the striker and usually some char or char cloth to catch the spark. These two methods are often confused, but they are different.


    9 months ago on Step 10

    I thought i read how to start a fire using a flint and steel...

    Allthough it's a nice instructable, i miss the real flint.

    1 reply

    Reply 9 months ago

    Well said. I expected flint and steel too. Ferrocerium isn't flint. although far more convenient it's not a setup that can be made from scraps and forage.


    9 months ago

    I once used a broken steel file, a piece of flint rock, and some chard cotton fabric to start a camp fire.


    Tip 9 months ago

    Use a wood saw, not a hacksaw. They are intended for cutting metal.


    9 months ago

    This is a really solid walkthrough. Great photos too! :D