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#99759 - 07/12/07 09:33 PM Re: Starting fires by the flint and steel method [Re: atoz]
ironraven Offline
Cranky Geek
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 09/08/05
Posts: 4642
Loc: Vermont
Urban myth, hmm? Sorry atoz, I was given my first Doans over 20 years ago, and I've been using them ever since. I get about half, two-thirds as many sparks with a stainless scraper as I do carbon- same angle, same pressure, same scraper thickness (near enough- not enough for the eye to see).

There was also an evaluation of scraper materials done by a member about a year ago or so, he found a super high carbon tool steel did the very best. High chromium, low carbon steel did the worst.

Stainless sucks on ferro rods. Beginning and end of story.
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When a man dare not speak without malice for fear of giving insult, that is when truth starts to die. Truth is the truest freedom.

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#99783 - 07/13/07 03:48 AM Re: Starting fires by the flint and steel method [Re: NightHiker]
OldBaldGuy Offline
Geezer

Registered: 09/30/01
Posts: 5695
Loc: Former AFB in CA, recouping fr...
I have been playing with mag blocks off and on for about 30 years, and have never tried to shave any off. I usually use a small piece of a hacksaw blade (either the teeth side, or the back side), or a knife blade, held at a right angle to the block, I get a pile of little bitty flakes, not thin slices. Works for me...
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#99785 - 07/13/07 03:51 AM Re: Starting fires by the flint and steel method [Re: Frank2135]
SwampDonkey Offline
Veteran

Registered: 07/08/07
Posts: 1268
Loc: Northeastern Ontario, Canada
Hi Frank2135,

Thanks for the link to Dixie Gun Works, I did not know "nodules of flint" were even available for sale. The difficulty is that for a private citizen to import anything firearm related into Canada is a big hassle. I think I will just have to buy a small piece of flint at a gun shop in Ontario, so I can experiment with it. I have seen flint struck in survival movies and it produced a lot more and hotter sparks than my local quartz. The native people of Southern Ontario used chert (another type of mineral quartz) but I have had very poor results producing a spark with it, I will have to work with it some more.

I think the confusion comes from people and marketing companies refering to ferrocium rod as "flint" when actually it is not, it is a man-made, artifical product. It is like calling the black middle of a pencil "lead" when really it is made of graphite/clay.

The only time I have used char cloth is to catch the "colder" sparks produced by traditional flint (quartz in my case) and carbon steel.

In the past I would guess that people would make a fire by the friction method (bow-drill) or catch a spark on natural tinder like Tinder Fungus. They would then make a batch of char cloth and after that use the char cloth to catch the sparks from natural flint stone and carbon steel. Remember they also needed high heat(fire) to produce the carbon steel? In Neolithic times they did not have linen to make char cloth or carbon steel, they used flint, iron pyrite and tinder fungus (amadou) to produce fire.

The thing I like best about artifical flint (call it, ferrocium rod, firesteel or magnesium block) is that if it gets wet you just wipe it off and strike sparks with it immediately. If I remember correctly it takes about 200 flicks of a Bic to dry out the striker wheel of a lighter? Some waterproof matches are effective, some not so good after getting wet. Both lighters and matches are also effected by high winds, usually sparks are not and the more wind on a coal in a tinder bundle the quicker it ignites.

I have frequently used an artifical flint rod (usually a Light-My-Fire Scout model) to ignite natural tinder. Mostly I use shredded white birch bark, but sometines I use cedar bark or tinder fungus. I usually scrape the artifical flint rod with whatever sharp edge I have on me, often one of the non-cutting blades of my multi-tool, as using the main blade is hard on the edge. Any Ray Mears or Michel Blomgren video shows them lighting natural tinder with an articical flint rod.

I just tested scraping a Primus Firesteel with both a 1095 carbon steel blade (Ontario Brand "Old Hickory" kitchen knife) and a low carbon/high chromium stainless steel blade (Rapala Filleting Knife). I could not detect any difference in the amount of hot sparks produced. What does produce a significantly greater amount of sparks it to hold the sharp edge firmly and scrape the artifical flint rod under it. This not only produces more sparks, it is easier to direct them onto the tinder and you do not scatter you tinder with the follow-thru of your scraper hand.

Interesting topic L.W. glad you brought it up.

Mike


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#99798 - 07/13/07 01:41 PM Re: Starting fires by the flint and steel method [Re: SwampDonkey]
Frank2135 Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 04/26/07
Posts: 266
Loc: Ohio, USA
Hi, Mike,

You're very welcome. And the choice of tinder is critical. I recently tried to ignite some nice, dry grass (fine tips, not the woody stems) with my ferro rod, and it just would not support an ember. Then I shredded some cedar bark and presto! we had fire. IMO, if you're going to carry a sparking device, take the time to roll some PJ-impregnated cotton balls into little foil packets (technique discussed in this forum previously) and take them along, too. They weigh nothing and are darn near fool-proof as tinder.

Frank2135, whose neighbors wonder why it takes him so long to get his charcoal grill started
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#99810 - 07/13/07 04:11 PM Re: Starting fires by the flint and steel method [Re: ironraven]
BigCityHillbilly Offline
Journeyman

Registered: 05/19/07
Posts: 63
Originally Posted By: ironraven
Urban myth, hmm? Sorry atoz, I was given my first Doans over 20 years ago, and I've been using them ever since. I get about half, two-thirds as many sparks with a stainless scraper as I do carbon- same angle, same pressure, same scraper thickness (near enough- not enough for the eye to see).

There was also an evaluation of scraper materials done by a member about a year ago or so, he found a super high carbon tool steel did the very best. High chromium, low carbon steel did the worst.

Stainless sucks on ferro rods. Beginning and end of story.


The problem with carbon steel is that it's famous for rusting out. Stainless doesn't produce sparks quite as easily, but it has better edge retention than carbon steel, and you don't have to worry about it rusting out on you. I have a bowie knife, the knife is made of AUS 8A stainless steel. If I had to choose between that bowie knife and a Camillus K Bar which is made of high carbon steel, I would choose the bowie knife "hands down" even though it doesn't produce sparks quite as well.

I wonder if anything can be done to high carbon steel to keep it from rusting out, short of keeping it well-oiled. It doesn't make a whole lot of sense to keep a bottle of oil in your backpack where it's going to leak all over the place, but if I knew of a chemical treatment that would keep it from rusting out, then I would seriously consider going with carbon steel.

LW.

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#99811 - 07/13/07 04:20 PM Re: Starting fires by the flint and steel method [Re: BigCityHillbilly]
Frank2135 Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 04/26/07
Posts: 266
Loc: Ohio, USA
Originally Posted By: BigCityHillbilly
I wonder if anything can be done to high carbon steel to keep it from rusting out, short of keeping it well-oiled. It doesn't make a whole lot of sense to keep a bottle of oil in your backpack where it's going to leak all over the place, but if I knew of a chemical treatment that would keep it from rusting out, then I would seriously consider going with carbon steel.


The black oxide coating on the K Bar and on the Ontario military knives works pretty well. However, IMO the best way to keep a carbon steel knife blade from rusting is to use it frequently, giving it a wipe with a dry cloth (usually my pant leg) before putting it back in its sheath.

Frank2135
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#99822 - 07/13/07 06:50 PM Re: Starting fires by the flint and steel method [Re: BigCityHillbilly]
ironraven Offline
Cranky Geek
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 09/08/05
Posts: 4642
Loc: Vermont
You must be in a coastal region then. Or I have to ask what are you doing?

I say that becuase except for kitchen knives, my SAKs and my mutlitools, all of mine are carbon steel. The only time I've seen rust problems was when one was stored (forgotten) for about 20 years in a leather sheath. So long as they are properly maintained, carbon steel out performs in everything other than a high salt environment. And I've never seen one "rust out", if you mean it is no longer functional, unless it was just abandoned and completely neglected.
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When a man dare not speak without malice for fear of giving insult, that is when truth starts to die. Truth is the truest freedom.

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#99827 - 07/13/07 07:41 PM Re: Starting fires by the flint and steel method [Re: BigCityHillbilly]
ohiohiker Offline
found in the wilderness
Journeyman

Registered: 12/22/06
Posts: 76
Loc: Ohio
Originally Posted By: BigCityHillbilly
The problem with carbon steel is that it's famous for rusting out. Stainless doesn't produce sparks quite as easily, but it has better edge retention than carbon steel, and you don't have to worry about it rusting out on you.


Carbon steel is harder and therefore has slightly better edge retention than stainless.

Harder steel = more and hotter sparks.
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#99846 - 07/14/07 03:46 AM Re: Starting fires by the flint and steel method [Re: Frank2135]
OldBaldGuy Offline
Geezer

Registered: 09/30/01
Posts: 5695
Loc: Former AFB in CA, recouping fr...
"...the best way to keep a carbon steel knife blade from rusting is to use it frequently, giving it a wipe with a dry cloth (usually my pant leg) before putting it back in its sheath..."

Me too. I have been using knives for more years than I care to count, and own many more carbon blades than stainless. Some have a nice "patina," but I have never had a real rusting problem, even with a kitchen paring knife that sometimes gets left laying on the counter overnight wet (shame on my wife). If a thin coating of rust does appear, it wipes away easily, back down to the patina...
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#99904 - 07/15/07 06:50 PM Re: Starting fires by the flint and steel method [Re: BigCityHillbilly]
Leigh_Ratcliffe Offline
Veteran

Registered: 03/31/06
Posts: 1355
Loc: United Kingdom.
You would do better to treat the magnesium scraping as a booster for your tinder ball. Rather than as a initial source of fuel. I know what the packaging on the DOAN and Cohglan magnesium blocks tell you to scrape it into a hollow etc but in practice it does not work. At least not well.

In terms of using char cloth: What is wrong having it burst into flames if ignited with a ferro rod? That is after all what you are trying to achieve when you strike a spark into it with a carbon steel striker and a flint and insert it into your tinder ball. All you are doing is saving yourself a lot of huffing and puffing. Note* Char cloth is worth having in you kit because it takes a spark from quite "cool" sparks. Like those struck from a carbon steel blade with a flint. The trick in it's manufacure is to avoid heating it too much to quickly. There are a couple of good short video's on YouTube. Use the search words BUSHCRAFT & CHAR CLOTH. smile

When stainless steels first came on to the market ( as 440A & 440C etc) they were relatively crude in terms of their metallurgy. Brittle, edge retention was very poor etc. Where as carbon steel has been around since the dawn of time. So it's a well understood metal. However, stainless steels have taken a quantum leap since then. Metals like 154CM & VG10 will give sparks from a ferro rod that compare very well with high carbon. To illustrate that point: The Swedish Air Force selected VG10 for the F1 survival knife. That's a stainless steel. The one thing that I have found to be critical is the shoulder of the spine on the blade. If it's rounded off as many knife producers do for a comfortable fit and for aesthetic reasons you are going to have difficulties in getting a decent spark. That is because the spine is riding over the rod rather than cutting in. Knives like the F1 are manufactured with a sharp spine for that exact reason. it's a mistake to assume that all carbon blades will automatically perform better than a stainless one. The ratio's of carbon to iron and the amount of oxygen applied to the smelting process, the forging of the blade and how it's quenched will also make a dramatic difference.


Edited by Leigh_Ratcliffe (07/15/07 07:17 PM)
Edit Reason: expanded post after reading other posts.
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