The Art of Fire Making – How to Make A Fire Using Flint and Steel

You don’t have to be a manly man or even a man to know how to start a fire without matches. Knowing how to start a fire is a useful skill for human beings of either sex.

Let’s face it, you never know when you may find yourself a castaway on a deserted island, or the victim of soggy matches because a bear has thrown your camping supplies into a babbling brook.

Seriously though, starting a fire without matches comes in handy for anyone that enjoys hiking and camping in the great outdoors. It is also an essential survival skill for those wanting to venture into the wilderness.


Eileen successfully started a fire with flint and steel and char


Here’s how to start a fire with a flint (rock) and steel set, and char.


  • Char is a piece of cloth, preferably cotton, that has been turned into charcoal. You do this by putting the cloth in a metal container with a hole in the top. You then put the can in a fire. A barbecue grill is good for this. However, be mindful to stay away from the fumes if your can will be burning off paint.  A properly charred cloth will be uniformly black.


Wondering why you need a char cloth?  It makes starting a fire without matches easier. Char catches a spark and smolders without bursting into flames. If you do not have a piece of char with you, try using a piece of mossy fungus.

Let’s begin:

  • Shred a small amount of rope (if you have it) or a stick to make tinder. Form a “nest” on the ground with your tinder.
  • Put your char on top of the “nest”.
  • Grip the flint in one hand and your steel in the other. With a firm downward motion strike the steel with the flint towards the char in the “nest”.
  • When a spark is achieved on the char, pick up the smoldering nest while forming a cup in your hands. Hold the “nest” away from you and above your head. Begin to blow on the “nest” until you  create a fire.


Wondering why to keep the “nest” above your head? Flames rise. Therefore, keeping the “nest” above your head is safer than having flames rise into your face.



At a muzzleloading meeting, Mallory and Eileen both started a fire this way with flint, steel and char, then put it out by laying the burning “nest” on the ground and slapping it with their hands. They said that putting the fire out felt like putting their hand in a warm oven, or under hot water for a brief moment. Heaven forbid my daughters ever have to light a fire with flint and steel in an emergency, but thanks to this training they will know how.


Preparedness is the key. Growing up in this household with a former boy scout for a dad, our children have been inculcated with this lesson since birth.


Mother’s Day and Father’s Day is just around the corner. For those alpha male dad’s and adventurous mom’s, this firesteel set is sure to please. My husband David received one from our son for Father’s Day and carries it whenever we recreate outdoors. It works mighty fine and you don’t have to carry around a rock.

Swedish Firesteel Fire Starter – Army Model – Black


For additional information and  comprehensive details on how to start a fire using flint and steel, click here.





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