How to Start a Fire With a Magnesium Flint




Introduction: How to Start a Fire With a Magnesium Flint

    • Author:

    Nicholas Bradley

    - A technical communications student with a passion for the outdoor world

    • Date:

    March 4th, 2015

    • Introduction:

    Congratulations you have found my amazing instructable! I wanted to create something useful for the outdoorsy survival type. Though, this incredible piece of work is also written for a novice audience and for someone who has no experience with fire starting at all! My passion for outdoor survival came from watching the Discovery Channel, which if you don't live under a rock, than you know that it is chalk full of survival shows. So, after reading my instructable I hope you have a better understanding and knowledge on how to start a fire with a magnesium flint! In addition, you can find this handy little tool to add to your collection at places like REI, Eastern Mountain Sports, or any camping store with a good selection. Moving forward, if you have an interest with expanding your fire starting skills so you'll never be out in the wild without one, than this is the instructable for you!

    • Audience:

    Survival enthusiasts

    Camping/ Hiking enthusiasts

    Beginner experience with interest in survival fire starting

    • Audience Accommodation:

    Adults or Adult supervision required

    Skill Level= Beginner

    Time: 15-30 minutes (based upon how readily available tinder resources are)

    • Alerts:
    1. Do Instructable outside.
    2. Keep anything flammable or explosive besides approved equipment away from your tinder nest.
    3. Magnesium burns at 5,610 degrees Fahrenheit! It produces a very bright flash when first ignited.
    4. Adults only, Must be comfortable with fire.
    5. Have water, a fire extinguisher, or anything capable of suffocating a flame near by.
    6. Careful usage of knife! Always strike the sparking insert with the knife in a downwards motion away from the body!
    7. Make sure no bystanders have their hands or limbs near the tinder nest during striking.
    8. Windy environments make for tough ignition of magnesium because the wind will blow your shavings around! Build your nest with walls and turn your back towards on coming wind if you don't already have shelter!
    9. When gathering tinder and wood remember that drier material is much easier to ignite! Try and find the driest material, so go for dead material underneath shrubbery or material that was covered by a canopy, thus being the driest because it has not been exposed to rain.
    • Equipment Needed:
    1. Magnesium flint bar
    2. Knife
    3. Multi tool (optional if knife isn't available)
    • Parts Listed:
    1. Dry tinder
    2. Leaves
    3. Bark
    4. Twigs(small)
    5. Sticks(large)
    6. Logs
    7. Knife
    8. Magnesium and Flint
    • Conclusion:
    1. Troubleshooting: During step 5, you might have had issues with getting the sparks to hit the magnesium. Remember, you are outside in nature and wind gusts can be detrimental to fire starting. Wind can blow the shavings of magnesium out of your nest, causing the nest not to ignite. To fix this issue, simply move aim your back towards the wind trying to block out as much as you can. If the wind is very severe, try looking for shelter or have a partner stand close to prevent more wind reaching your nest.
    2. Maintenance Information: After you have acquired your fire, you'll realize it needs attention. If you have started your fire before sundown then it is a good idea to go out and gather as much large would as you can. Keep your gatherings close to you and your fire all night. Fire needs energy to burn, and the worst time to run out is during the cold dark night so remember to always be prepped and ready.
    3. Additional Alerts: Putting out the fire at the end of your stay is essential. Forest fires are no joke, people are displaced from their homes, and civilians can die from them. Furthermore, they take a toll on their landscape and they end up ravishing their environment of its resources, leaving many populations of animals to die. Always make sure your fire is completely out before packing up and leaving your camp site.

    Step 1: Having the Right Tools

    Get a knife, magnesium and flint. You can find flint and magnesium at stores such as REI or Eastern Mountain sports. If your an online shopper, is perfect to grab a non expensive magnesium and flint. It will run you around 8 dollars.

    Step 2: Gathering the Right Materials

    Find yourself some fast igniting material in the wilderness. Look for small dead/dry wood and leaves. When looking for material remember that the bigger sticks will take longer to catch and hold a flame. In addition, drier material tends to lie underneath and towards the middle of shrubbery. Lastly, acquire enough tinder to make a birds nest out of it.

    Note: Have materials close by for step 6

    Step 3: Make a Nest Out of Your Tinder

    Make a nest out of the driest and fastest igniting material that you gathered! This should be the leaves or straw grass type of materials that you gathered. Rule of thumb; make the nest the average size of a birds nest, so around 6-8 inches in diameter.

    Step 4: Scraping the Magnesium

    Scrape some magnesium into the nest with your knife. Start by holding the magnesium bar in your less dominate hand. If your a righty than hold it with your left hand. Hold the bar scraping side up and firmly but carefully run your knife down and away from your body while taking flakes of magnesium off the bar. Do this directly over the pile so the nest can catch your shavings!

    Rule of thumb: The pile of shavings should be the size of a quarter. (If beginner I suggest making it the size of a half dollar)

    Step 5: Let the Sparks Fly

    Turn your flint bar over so the sparking insert side is facing up. Hit the flint with your knife in a downward motion over the pile. Your going to see sparks, but more importantly your going to want those sparks to hit the magnesium. When the sparks hit the magnesium it will ignite! To keep this going and get a real fire started, gently... and I mean very gentle blow on the nest providing the flame with oxygen!

    Step 6: Feed That Flame

    You should have your twigs that you gathered in step 2 near by. Gently add the twigs to the nest fire. Be very careful to not snub the flame by cutting off its oxygen supply! To keep building the fire, keep adding twigs!

    Step 7: Baby Steps

    Get some bigger wood such as sticks and large twigs. Make a teepee with these larger sticks over the fire. Caution, this part is very important! Your fire is extremly delicate at this point. Adding too much wood, or too large of pieces can smother and destroy your hard work! The fire is hungry, but you don't eat a birthday cake with one bite. Patience is key.

    Step 8: Full Course Dinner

    Add some logs or larger pieces of wood! Fires need love and attention, and this last element will keep the fire burning long and hard. Remember though friends, just like love, don't smother it or else you'll be left out in the cold.

    Step 9: Take a Load Off Friend, You've Earned It

    Sit down and embrace the heat to warm that cold body, it's best to avoid hypothermia or frost bite.

    Step 10: Smokey Is Watching You

    Throw a bucket of water on that fire, what are you crazy? If your not staying the night out in the wilderness, it's essential to smokey the bear and to the safety of others in the area that the fire is completely out! The fire shouldn't be smoking or smoldering, it must be completely out!

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      2 Discussions


      5 years ago on Introduction

      This would be much more impressive if you used your own photos, as per the site's terms of service.


      5 years ago on Introduction

      This is some great information! I love your level of detail. I've always wanted to learn how to do this.