Bushlore Topics > Bushlore and Outdoor Skills

Finding "Flint"

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Aside from colonial sites, especially battle sites, the northeast is pretty much devoid of chert. But what we do have is an abundance of quartz, and in sandy soils, lots of quartzite. Both make excellent stone tools, and I work with both. Quartzite, however, can be extremely difficult to fracture because its just so tough...you may find that grinding would be the better option than knapping. Quartz can be an odd material to work. Quartz found on the surface is often weakened with frost cracks that will effect flaking and spalling...not necessarily bad, but it will dictate what you can and cannot make from the piece. That said, quartz is much easier to fracture than quartzite, though the edges can crumble/be crushed during flake removals depending on the quality of the material. Don't expect large blade flakes to pop off during spalling with quartz and quartzite. The Native stone tool artifacts tend to be clunky compared to other parts of the country where cherts, jasper, agates, and obsidian can be found.

Good quality quartz and quartzite can be found on river and stream beds or wherever water has flowed. Gravel/sandy beds that carry runoff can be good places to look as well. Trails with loose rocks are also worth checking. The best stones are mined where the elements have not altered them.

Good tips, NEB.......I learned something new. :P :thumbsup:

Great post Half Axe! More detail than most include. 

I have gathered "flint" from half the States in the CONUS. Quartzes, dolomite, granites, sandstones, cherts, agates, onyxes, etc. Not being a rockhound I have not formally identified most of them.

Carbide steel works as the "flint" if you're short on suitable rocks.

In addition to scratching glass, looking at the fractures, chalky cortex, glassy, waxy, shiny, sparkly, etc characteristics for identifying suitable rocks to use as the "flint" in F&S, there is another way. Triboluminescence.

Triboluminescence is the sparks generated when you have one quartz containing rock and strike or scrape another quartz containing rock against it. Best seen in a darkened area. These weak, tiny electric sparks are mostly within the rocks. They can be blue, white, yellow, orange or red, No, they will not ignite any char.

So if you have a rock you know has any form of quartz (chalcedony, chert, flint, etc) in it and when you strike or scrape an unknown rock against it you get sparks, then you now know the unknown rock also contains quartz. If it contains quartz, it will almost certainly work as "flint" as long as you can get a sharp edge on it.

Very helpful, thanks for posting! 8)


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