Author Topic: The difference between "Firesteel", "Ferro Rod" and "Flint and Steel"  (Read 32207 times)

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Offline PetrifiedWood

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Sometimes the jargon we use can be confusing so I thought this might help some folks who are new to these tools to help differentiate between them. Most of you already know this stuff but hopefully it will help someone. :)

A ferro rod is basically the same thing as a "lighter flint" which isn't really a flint at all, nor is it "steel" either. They are almost all round metal rods, and they are available from many different sources. You can even get tiny ones from a welding supply store to replace the ones in torch lighters. Different ones produce different kinds of sparks, but all of them are used by rapidly scraping some of the rod off to create sparks. (The differences in ferro rods and how they spark is beyond the scope of this post.) Look up "mischmetal" for more details.



Ferro rods are used by scraping a sharp striker along the length of the rod to remove some fine metal shavings. The friction generated by this action causes the shavings to ignite, creating hot sparks and molten metal. the strikers used with ferro rods can be made of real steel, stone, or almost any material that is sharp and harder than the ferro rod itself. Lots of people use the back edge of their knife to strike a ferro rod.

Ferro rod


A "flint and steel" is something else entirely. This is a hardened carbon steel "striker" and a sharp piece of quartz, cryptocrystalline quartz, or microcrystalline quartz rock (most commonly flint or chert).

Flint and Steel


Flint and steel sparks are not as hot as ferro rod sparks. Ferro rods can be used to ignite a much wider range of tinder directly with a lot less careful preparation. Flint and steel can only ignite the highest quality natural tinders, and there are precious few of them. It is much easier to use charred material with flint and steel, charred cotton cloth being the best, but not traditional or "period correct".

Flint and steel is used by rapidly striking the edge of the steel with a sharp piece of flint in order to scrape off tiny bits of metal, causing them to ignite in much the same way as the ferro rod. Since steel is much harder than the metal ferro rods are made of, you must use a sharp, hard stone like flint or chert, and rather than "scraping" the steel with the flint, you must "strike" them together. This takes a bit of practice to get right. The proper technique is a combination of impact, and scraping that is best described as a "glancing blow". Sparks can be made by striking the steel against the flint, or striking the flint against the steel. We have a discussion of the two techniques here:

http://bladesandbushcraft.com/index.php/topic,4610.0.html

Ferro rods are a relatively modern tool and are not "traditional" or "primitive" fire starting methods. But they do require a bit of skill to use them effectively and reliably.  If a person can't get a fire going with a ferro rod, they are not likely to succeed using a flint and steel. However there are some times that using charred material (as is common with flint and steel) can help you succeed where you would fail without it. But charred material can be used with a ferro rod as well so that advantage isn't exclusive to the flint and steel.


Then there's a bit of a hybrid, my "strike-all" tools. These are designed to be used as a flint and steel as the "steel" part of the kit, and as a striker in combination with a ferro rod.

There is some confusion arising from the relatively recent, and unfortunately prevalent misuse use of the term "firesteel" to describe ferro rods. Traditionally, the steel striker used in a flint and steel kit was called a "firesteel", or a "strike-a-light". Ferro rods are being marketed as "firesteels" by several companies, and the misnomer has become so entrenched now that searching for the term "firesteel" brings up far more ferro rod results than steel flint striker results. This has made it necessary when discussing "firesteels" to ascertain whether the person mentioning them is referring to a ferro rod, or a traditional steel striker.

Ultimately success with either of the two methods boils down to technique and preparation (so practice is important). Hope this clears up the difference. :)
« Last Edit: June 04, 2013, 06:36:48 PM by PetrifiedWood »

Offline wolfy

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Re: The difference between "Firesteel" and "Flint and Steel"
« Reply #1 on: April 03, 2013, 05:45:05 PM »
Nice write-up PW, but now I am confused. :P   This is an honest question: When did we start calling these new-fangled ferro-rods "fire steels"? :shrug:   I know it's a common practice today, but historically, "fire steels" (also called "fire strikers" or "strike-a-lights") are what were used for centuries to strike sparks with a piece of rock.  I cite the following as an explanation of what I mean....

http://www.vikinganswerlady.com/fire.shtml#FireSteels

There are also three rivers that are called the FIRESTEEL RIVER, not the FERRO ROD RIVER!  One is in British Columbia, one in Michigan and one in Ontario.  These were called by this title since beaver beaver skins were used for money during the fur trade.......certain ly before there were ferro rods! :doh:

Every buckskinner and reenactor I know carries a fire steel, but no self-respecting grizzled old mountain man or long hunter would be caught dead with a "Light-My-Fire" ferro rod in his possibles.  :stir:
The only chance you got at a education is listenin' to me talk!
Augustus McCrae.....Texas Ranger      Lonesome Dove, TX

Offline PetrifiedWood

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Re: The difference between "Firesteel" and "Flint and Steel"
« Reply #2 on: April 03, 2013, 06:35:47 PM »
Well, to answer your question, I don't know. But typing "firesteel" into google gets you a bunch of ferro rods. :shrug:

"Flint and Steel" is a more descriptive name for the "firesteels" in use before mischmetal was invented.

Offline PetrifiedWood

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Re: The difference between "Firesteel" and "Flint and Steel"
« Reply #3 on: April 03, 2013, 06:54:28 PM »
Great article, by the way. Here is an excerpt:

Quote
Although most modern flint-and-steel fire-makers strike the steel with the flint, apparently in the Viking Age the actual method was to strike with the steel in the dominant hand. In the opposite hand, the flint is held, with the touchwood or charcloth held on the top of the flint, near the edge.


Who knew? Seems like the more "traditional" way to do it actually was to strike the flint with the steel.

Offline wolfy

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Re: The difference between "Firesteel" and "Flint and Steel"
« Reply #4 on: April 03, 2013, 06:57:15 PM »
Well, to answer your question, I don't know. But typing "firesteel" into google gets you a bunch of ferro rods. :shrug:

"Flint and Steel" is a more descriptive name for the "firesteels" in use before mischmetal was invented.

So, the metal portion of a "flint & steel" set has now morphed from what it was known for hundreds of years into something we no longer have any name for, and the ferro rod is the new fire steel in Google-speak?   

OK, I just need to practice saying it over and over again.   I'm confident that I can learn to say it because I used to say I was having a GAY ol' time, but I learned I'm not having those anymore, either!
The only chance you got at a education is listenin' to me talk!
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Offline PetrifiedWood

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Re: The difference between "Firesteel" and "Flint and Steel"
« Reply #5 on: April 03, 2013, 07:11:53 PM »
I have heard the metal portion referred to as a "strike-a-light". ;)

Here's a google image search for strike-a-light:

Strike-a-light


And the same for firesteel:

firesteel


Certainly, forged steel "firesteels" for use with flint and steel fire lighting appear in the firesteel search. But the overwhelming preponderance of the results for that search term are ferrocerium rods. The term "strike-a-light" favors forged steel strikers.


Granted, google has been in existence for only a moment in the span of time that forged steel strikers have been in use. But the vast majority of people will probably associate the term "firesteel" with ferro rods.

The purpose of this thread isn't so much to redefine the descriptions of the various tools, as it is to eliminate the confusion caused by calling two vastly different tools by the same name. In other words, if we are to eliminate confusion, we can't call them both "firesteels". And like it or not, the term "firesteel" associated with ferrocerium fire starters is so firmly entrenched now that trying to describe a "strike-a-light" as a "firesteel" (while correct), is fighting a losing battle.

I blame the "Light My Fire" company for fostering the misnomer by advertising their ferro rods as "Swedish Fire Steels". ;)

Offline MnSportsman

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Re: The difference between "Firesteel" and "Flint and Steel"
« Reply #6 on: April 03, 2013, 07:17:27 PM »
I don't know what is "Correct" for what you call a "ferrocerium rod", other than maybe a "Ferro rod", but a "Fire steel", has been a "Fire steel" to me, since about 1970 +/-  So I would say, unless I am corrected by some elders, or even some "younkers"... that a "Fire Steel" is something made of "steel" you use to make sparks from a sharp rock....


Then or "ergo"....


 A "Fire Steel" = "Steel used for making sparks by using a sharp rock", and a Ferrocerium rod is not a "Fire Steel", but is an amalgam that will throw sparks when scraped by a sharp object that is harder than the ferrocerium rod.
 ;)


LMAO


 :D
« Last Edit: April 03, 2013, 07:23:10 PM by MnSportsman »
I love being out in the woods!   I like this quote from Mors Kochanski - "The more you know, the less you carry". I believe in the same creed, & think  "Knowledge & honed skills" are the best things to carry with ya when you're out in the wilds. They're the ultimate "ultralight" gear! ;)

Offline PetrifiedWood

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Re: The difference between "Firesteel" and "Flint and Steel"
« Reply #7 on: April 03, 2013, 07:26:39 PM »
So then I suppose the question becomes, "What should we do about the overwhelming majority of people who think 'ferro rod' when someone says 'firesteel', in order to eliminate confusion?"

This problem isn't going to go away as long as companies are marketing ferro rods as "firesteels".


I am open to any suggestions as the ultimate goal of this thread is to eliminate confusion.

Offline wolfy

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Re: The difference between "Firesteel" and "Flint and Steel"
« Reply #8 on: April 03, 2013, 07:30:13 PM »
 :rofl:  Yes PW, I agree 100%, but I will continue to raise the issue every time I see it come up, just because the preponderance of historical reference is on my side.   Plus, I like for people to know about that history and add a little "piquancy" to the conversation in the process.

Just as an aside.....after I read that last post of mine to my wife, she gave me the dire warning that my being a smartass was going to get me banned from this place, too! :-\.   Since we do this kind of thing on here all of the time and are allowed to have a little fun once in a while, I told her there was nothing to worry about.








I was right, wasn't I? :shrug: :hail:
The only chance you got at a education is listenin' to me talk!
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Offline buzzacott

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Re: The difference between "Firesteel" and "Flint and Steel"
« Reply #9 on: April 03, 2013, 07:41:17 PM »
Companies will continue to market their ferro rods as "firesteels" since the word evokes mental imagery of indigenous tribesmen and mountain men and 19th century explorers masterfully starting their cooking fire with natural materials. It's like a license to print money. 99% of the customers don't care what it is so long as it makes pretty sparks when you scrape it with the back of your knife.

Since I'm one of the 1% who do care, I'd suggest that when discussing actual flint or quartzite struck with a steel strike-a-light, we simply refer to it as a "traditional firesteel". We all know there's nothing traditional about ferro rods, which are a manufactured metal alloy (70% cerium and 30% iron) and have only been around since the first decade of the 20th century.
Don't kill unless for the pot. Don't fell a green tree for a pole if there are dry poles nearby. Study the bush, learn to read its secrets; watch the mason fly building and go to the ant for another lesson... then you'll realise the bush is your friend.
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Offline PetrifiedWood

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Re: The difference between "Firesteel" and "Flint and Steel"
« Reply #10 on: April 03, 2013, 07:43:57 PM »
:rofl:  Yes PW, I agree 100%, but I will continue to raise the issue every time I see it come up, just because the preponderance of historical reference is on my side.   Plus, I like for people to know about that history and add a little "piquancy" to the conversation in the process.

Just as an aside.....after I read that last post of mine to my wife, she gave me the dire warning that my being a smartass was going to get me banned from this place, too! :-\.   Since we do this kind of thing on here all of the time and are allowed to have a little fun once in a while, I told her there was nothing to worry about.








I was right, wasn't I? :shrug: :hail:


Lol, worried about incurring the wrath of an angry mod? :taunt:

Yeah, this place is "different". Tell your wife you are safe. :)

Offline MnSportsman

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Re: The difference between "Firesteel" and "Flint and Steel"
« Reply #11 on: April 03, 2013, 07:45:16 PM »
I agree with some of the earlier posts, although I may have appeared a bit "flippant" in my last comment/post.


The confusion between what is a "Fire Steel" & a "ferrocerium rod/misch metal rod" is both annoying sometimes(to me, anyway) & quite common. 


   It reminds me of the terms, "boat" & "ship". Those two words usually make some folks think of the same thing, but they really are different. Generally, I think, " Ships can carry boats, but boats cannot carry ships", or " Ships are "ocean-going",  Boats are not "ocean-going"...
 Good luck getting folks to realize the difference between the two, since many thing they are the same thing...
 ;)


BTW... When I was in the Corps. There was one heck of a difference between a "weapon"... a"Gun", and a "rifle"...
Big difference...
 ;)
I love being out in the woods!   I like this quote from Mors Kochanski - "The more you know, the less you carry". I believe in the same creed, & think  "Knowledge & honed skills" are the best things to carry with ya when you're out in the wilds. They're the ultimate "ultralight" gear! ;)

Offline PetrifiedWood

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Re: The difference between "Firesteel" and "Flint and Steel"
« Reply #12 on: April 03, 2013, 07:46:37 PM »
I'd suggest that when discussing actual flint or quartzite struck with a steel strike-a-light, we simply refer to it as a "traditional firesteel". We all know there's nothing traditional about ferro rods, which are a manufactured metal alloy (70% cerium and 30% iron) and have only been around since the first decade of the 20th century.


That would definitely be a step in the right direction. :thumbsup:

Offline PetrifiedWood

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Re: The difference between "Firesteel" and "Flint and Steel"
« Reply #13 on: April 03, 2013, 07:48:04 PM »
I agree, although I may have appeared a bit "flippant" in my last comment/post. The confusion between what is a "Fire Steel" & a "ferrocerium rod/misch metal rod" is both annoying sometimes(to me, anyway) & quite common. 


   It reminds me of the terms, "boat" & "ship". Those two words usually make some folks think of the same thing, but they really are different. Generally "ships have to be big enough to carry boats, and boats have to be small enough to be carried by ships."


 Good luck getting folks to realize the difference between the two.
 ;)

I've heard submarine crews get offended if you call them "ships", but that's the extent of my prior knowledge on the subject. :D

Offline upthecreek

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Re: The difference between "Firesteel" and "Flint and Steel"
« Reply #14 on: April 03, 2013, 07:52:07 PM »
As long as I can make fire with them I'm not gonna really sweat it :)

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Offline WoodsWoman

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Re: The difference between "Firesteel" and "Flint and Steel"
« Reply #15 on: April 03, 2013, 07:56:11 PM »
Thanks PW.. I owe ya one. :)
 
So I have two different rods...   One I scrape with a flat edged steel by pulling the rod under this square steel back to myself. And 99.99% of the time it takes me only one pull to catch a fire.  This one is my favorite. 

The other rod I have is smaller in diameter and came with a a piece of sawblade.  I have to use the teeth of this sawblade and push them into the rod to the end to maybe get sparks on the 11th try.  (not my favorite)
 
Both are ferro rods?  Just different make up?
 
And I have the Big P and a big C flint striker. :)   I understand the concept but after my first strike where I started a fire I've not had much luck.   I'm not giving up on it.. I just need alot more practice.   This is the true Firesteel.  Correct?
 
WW.
On particularly rough days when I'm sure I can't possibly endure, I like to remind myself that my track record for getting through bad days so far is 100% and that's pretty good.

Offline PetrifiedWood

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Re: The difference between "Firesteel" and "Flint and Steel"
« Reply #16 on: April 03, 2013, 08:01:29 PM »
Thanks PW.. I owe ya one. :)
 
So I have two different rods...   One I scrape with a flat edged steel by pulling the rod under this square steel back to myself. And 99.99% of the time it takes me only one pull to catch a fire.  This one is my favorite. 

The other rod I have is smaller in diameter and came with a a piece of sawblade.  I have to use the teeth of this sawblade and push them into the rod to the end to maybe get sparks on the 11th try.  (not my favorite)
 
Both are ferro rods?  Just different make up?
 
And I have the Big P and a big C flint striker. :)   I understand the concept but after my first strike where I started a fire I've not had much luck.   I'm not giving up on it.. I just need alot more practice.   This is the true Firesteel.  Correct?
 
WW.


Yes, both of the tools in the first part are "ferro rods". They are likely made by different companies with different formulations to the metal, which ends up with you having different results.

The steel flint strikers in the second part of your post are "traditional firesteels", not to be confused with ferro rods being marketed as "firesteels". Plain as mud, I know. :crazy:

Offline PetrifiedWood

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Re: The difference between "Firesteel" and "Flint and Steel"
« Reply #17 on: April 03, 2013, 08:02:11 PM »
I am going to change the first post in this thread to perhaps help clarify things further.

Offline wolfy

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Re: The difference between "Firesteel" and "Flint and Steel"
« Reply #18 on: April 03, 2013, 08:10:33 PM »
I am going to change the first post in this thread to perhaps help clarify things further.

SURE.......make me sound like even more of an idiot! :doh:
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Augustus McCrae.....Texas Ranger      Lonesome Dove, TX

Offline PetrifiedWood

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Re: The difference between "Firesteel" and "Flint and Steel"
« Reply #19 on: April 03, 2013, 08:13:05 PM »
I am going to change the first post in this thread to perhaps help clarify things further.

SURE.......make me sound like even more of an idiot! :doh:


Not at all. Just making sure a first time reader of this thread gets the best possible information up front. If I was incorrect in my post, I want to fix it to make sure people get the right info. I'm not too proud to admit a change needed to be made. :)

Offline WoodsWoman

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Re: The difference between "Firesteel", "Ferro Rod" and "Flint and Steel"
« Reply #20 on: April 03, 2013, 08:23:35 PM »
This thread helped alot.  Now I know what to call what I'm using when I'm trying fire making.   I dont have to call it Mr. Sparky now. :)  But I will.
 
I was just looking at one of WI_Woodsmans pictures..     Have I been using the wrong edge of that saw blade all this time?   I was using the teeth into the rod.... and now its got deep grooves in it.
 
WW.
On particularly rough days when I'm sure I can't possibly endure, I like to remind myself that my track record for getting through bad days so far is 100% and that's pretty good.

Offline PetrifiedWood

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Re: The difference between "Firesteel", "Ferro Rod" and "Flint and Steel"
« Reply #21 on: April 03, 2013, 08:25:43 PM »
WW, you should be able to use the flat side of the saw blade. It would be similar to using the spine of a knife blade. Might give better results too.

Offline MnSportsman

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Re: The difference between "Firesteel", "Ferro Rod" and "Flint and Steel"
« Reply #22 on: April 03, 2013, 08:29:35 PM »
Not to confuse things, but I have read many old diaries, manuscripts, etc. of folks who lived long before the turn of the 20th century. As I am sure many of the folks here at B&B have also read much of what I have read. The term, "Strike a light", was not common, or at least not common enough to use in those works when they were writing them... Not common enough to use as "written word". "Fire steel" , & "striker", or "fire striker" were common terms. They did not include ferrocerium rods, as they were not likely to even have been in existance when those works were written.
 BTW...If asked, I will gladly give a few links that are readable on the internet & not needed to be downloaded, to show & share what I just said. Here is just one link to share, to check out what I was just saying here:
http://www.mtmen.org/mtman/mmarch.html
Take a look... { You will likely be a while, if you are interested... There is a lot to read...LOL }
Or, research Samuel Hearne, David Thompson, or Alexander MacKenzie, to name a few explorers of the North(Canada). Read what they wrote about "Fire steels" & what they called them... Don't remember "strike a lights" there either.
 ;)


    I think that Buzz had a good idea about using the word, "traditional", but I am gonna stick with "Fire Steel" for a fire "striker", & "Ferro rod" or "Misch metal rod" for anything else..


I guess I am just "particular" that way...
 ;)
I love being out in the woods!   I like this quote from Mors Kochanski - "The more you know, the less you carry". I believe in the same creed, & think  "Knowledge & honed skills" are the best things to carry with ya when you're out in the wilds. They're the ultimate "ultralight" gear! ;)

Offline wolfy

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Re: The difference between "Firesteel", "Ferro Rod" and "Flint and Steel"
« Reply #23 on: April 03, 2013, 08:32:43 PM »
Me too, JB :cheers:

It's hell bein' a purist, ain't it? :shrug:
The only chance you got at a education is listenin' to me talk!
Augustus McCrae.....Texas Ranger      Lonesome Dove, TX

Offline MnSportsman

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Re: The difference between "Firesteel", "Ferro Rod" and "Flint and Steel"
« Reply #24 on: April 03, 2013, 08:37:58 PM »
"30 steels for striking or making fire", was in the list for Lewis& Clarkes' Expedition,
as quoted from this page, under "camping equipment":
http://www.nationalgeographic.com/lewisandclark/resources.html


Yup , Wolfy... We are alike in ways. But you are easier to get along with...LOL
;)
I love being out in the woods!   I like this quote from Mors Kochanski - "The more you know, the less you carry". I believe in the same creed, & think  "Knowledge & honed skills" are the best things to carry with ya when you're out in the wilds. They're the ultimate "ultralight" gear! ;)

Offline WoodsWoman

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Re: The difference between "Firesteel", "Ferro Rod" and "Flint and Steel"
« Reply #25 on: April 03, 2013, 09:38:58 PM »
Please bear with this stupid question..  I'm a little confused.
 
How did it come to be that steel STRIKERS were the thing to have when , from what I understand, true flint isnt even found here in the States?    Was Chert the only thing they hung on too for firestarting? And is Chert found in all states? 
 
And before steel.. was the rock of choice Quartz?
 
WW 
On particularly rough days when I'm sure I can't possibly endure, I like to remind myself that my track record for getting through bad days so far is 100% and that's pretty good.

Offline PetrifiedWood

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Re: The difference between "Firesteel", "Ferro Rod" and "Flint and Steel"
« Reply #26 on: April 03, 2013, 09:51:31 PM »
Please bear with this stupid question..  I'm a little confused.
 
How did it come to be that steel STRIKERS were the thing to have when , from what I understand, true flint isnt even found here in the States?    Was Chert the only thing they hung on too for firestarting? And is Chert found in all states? 
 
And before steel.. was the rock of choice Quartz?
 
WW

Before steel, there is evidence iron pyrites were used in place of the steel.

"Flint" is a specific variety of rock. Chert, agate, chalcedony, onyx, and a host of other rocks are all very similar to flint, and all can be used to strike sparks from steel.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flint

Quote
Flint is a hard, sedimentary cryptocrystalline form of the mineral quartz,[1][2] categorized as a variety of chert.


It is actually a "variety of chert". Any of the various varieties of chert can be used interchangeably to strike sparks from a piece of hardened steel, and all of them are made up of quartz. Quartz in it's pure form is a mineral. Flint is a rock, made up of cryptocrystalline quartz.

Offline Old Philosopher

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Re: The difference between "Firesteel" and "Flint and Steel"
« Reply #27 on: April 03, 2013, 10:08:56 PM »
I agree, although I may have appeared a bit "flippant" in my last comment/post. The confusion between what is a "Fire Steel" & a "ferrocerium rod/misch metal rod" is both annoying sometimes(to me, anyway) & quite common. 


   It reminds me of the terms, "boat" & "ship". Those two words usually make some folks think of the same thing, but they really are different. Generally "ships have to be big enough to carry boats, and boats have to be small enough to be carried by ships."


 Good luck getting folks to realize the difference between the two.
 ;)

I've heard submarine crews get offended if you call them "ships", but that's the extent of my prior knowledge on the subject. :D

My son-in-law is a submariner, and you'd better never call his boat a ship!  ;D :P
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Offline OutdoorEnvy

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Re: The difference between "Firesteel", "Ferro Rod" and "Flint and Steel"
« Reply #28 on: April 04, 2013, 10:07:03 AM »
Wow.  I guess I don't know what I use to start my fires now.  I just want to cook food and get warm   :shrug:
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Offline Old Philosopher

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Re: The difference between "Firesteel" and "Flint and Steel"
« Reply #29 on: April 04, 2013, 11:35:06 AM »
Great article, by the way. Here is an excerpt:

Quote
Although most modern flint-and-steel fire-makers strike the steel with the flint, apparently in the Viking Age the actual method was to strike with the steel in the dominant hand. In the opposite hand, the flint is held, with the touchwood or charcloth held on the top of the flint, near the edge.


Who knew? Seems like the more "traditional" way to do it actually was to strike the flint with the steel.

That's interesting...becau se that's the way I was taught...by a Scotsman!
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Offline Yeoman

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Re: The difference between "Firesteel", "Ferro Rod" and "Flint and Steel"
« Reply #30 on: April 04, 2013, 12:49:24 PM »
Hmmmm. Although I know the difference and I chuckle whenever someone refers to a ferro rod as "traditional" (heck, they are newer than matches and many lighter designs) I must admit something.
I am guilty of referring to my ferro rod as a fire steel. It's not a case of knowing I was correct or not: I just didn't realize I was doing it. Learned something today at any rate.
Good post.
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Offline MATT CHAOS

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Re: The difference between "Firesteel", "Ferro Rod" and "Flint and Steel"
« Reply #31 on: April 04, 2013, 03:14:52 PM »
Thanks for the info, PW.  I have been calling the ferro rods "firesteels" because that is what I had seen them advertised and steel strikers> steel strikers.  I will no longer be calling ferro rods> firesteels.  I didn't know any better and now I don't want to look like a dummy.
 :)
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Offline wolfy

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Re: The difference between "Firesteel", "Ferro Rod" and "Flint and Steel"
« Reply #32 on: April 04, 2013, 03:45:41 PM »
Since I started this mess and not being one to let a dead horse go unbeaten, I offer this.....

http://www.angelfire.com/journal2/firefromsteel/

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Offline abo4ster

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Re: The difference between "Firesteel", "Ferro Rod" and "Flint and Steel"
« Reply #33 on: April 06, 2013, 09:37:38 AM »
I am guilty of using incorrect terms.  I try, but there is cross-over, and for those that like history, confusion on occasion, as the terms have changed over time. 

Flint and Steel - traditional method of creating fire, albeit through a weak orange spark created by flaking off a piece of metal from the steel with a sharp rock.  The steel could be just for that task, or an old file, knife etc.  Been around for 1,000+ years.  Depending on the direction you want the sparks to travel, the striker could be the steel or the rock.   Arrrggg!  more terms!  Today, most use flint & steel with charred cloth they heated in a tin, but that practice is very modern. Traditionally it was used with charred natural materials and a few select natural materials capable of taking the weak spark such as tinder fungus, select piths, milkweed ovum, etc.  (see videos)


Metal Match (aka, Misch Metal, Firesteel, Ferrocerium Rod, etc.) - created in 1903 by Carl Auer von Welsbach, it a mixture of rare earth elements that throw a hot-white spark capable of lighting most properly prepared natural materials.  Based on the formulas, my understanding is that Ferrocerium is a form of Misch Metal, but not all Misch Metal is Ferrocerium.  The difference you will actually see in the formulas is in the spark.  Most Misch Metal throw a "glob" of a white spark where it is advantageous to "drop" the spark on your target.  The other spark is more like a "bur" or "fuzzy" in nature, you see this in the Swedish firesteels.  What is ferro and what is not I am not sure.  Which is best has been debated heavily.

Whatever your heat source, it is only 1/3 of the fire equation.  Prepare your tinder correctly and whatever formula firesteel you have shouldn't matter.



 

Offline wolfy

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Re: The difference between "Firesteel", "Ferro Rod" and "Flint and Steel"
« Reply #34 on: April 06, 2013, 09:46:25 AM »
Thanks a lot for the history lesson on the origins of the ferro/misch rods!  I appreciate it because I never knew where and how they came into being. :shrug:     BTW, that's a very nice collection of FIRESTEELS you have amassed there! 8) :cheers: :rofl:


EDIT:  I finally got your videos to load (slow Internet connection this morning) and I commend you on the EXCELLENT instruction in both of your videos!  They should be 'stickied' in the tutorials section for future reference by those trying to meet with success in making fire!   

Where did you go to the meet-up with Steve Watts?  I always admired his expertise in woodsmanship & liken his practical knowledge to that of the MacPhersons, whom I have learned much from.
« Last Edit: April 06, 2013, 10:17:35 AM by wolfy »
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Offline WI_Woodsman

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Re: The difference between "Firesteel", "Ferro Rod" and "Flint and Steel"
« Reply #35 on: April 06, 2013, 09:50:00 AM »
Dang abo4ster, that is quite an extensive flint and steel collection (and I thought I was a fanatic...).  Impressive!   :thumbsup:

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Re: The difference between "Firesteel" and "Flint and Steel"
« Reply #36 on: June 04, 2013, 02:40:54 PM »
I agree with some of the earlier posts, although I may have appeared a bit "flippant" in my last comment/post.


The confusion between what is a "Fire Steel" & a "ferrocerium rod/misch metal rod" is both annoying sometimes(to me, anyway) & quite common. 


   It reminds me of the terms, "boat" & "ship". Those two words usually make some folks think of the same thing, but they really are different. Generally, I think, " Ships can carry boats, but boats cannot carry ships", or " Ships are "ocean-going",  Boats are not "ocean-going"...
 Good luck getting folks to realize the difference between the two, since many thing they are the same thing...
 ;)


BTW... When I was in the Corps. There was one heck of a difference between a "weapon"... a"Gun", and a "rifle"...
Big difference...
 ;)
l served  in the Navy as a submarine radioman. The term "boat" was used to designate submarines and came from "pigboat" which the old diesel subs were called in WW 2. There was an OLD slogan we used to say: "There's only two classes of  ships in the Navy...boats & targets"...
http://www.pigboats.com/dave1.html

Ahooooga,
DomC (ex bubblehead) :) ;)
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Offline hunter63

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Re: The difference between "Firesteel", "Ferro Rod" and "Flint and Steel"
« Reply #37 on: June 04, 2013, 05:39:01 PM »
I guess I find this all very amusing.....I was aware of mischmetal being used in lighters, and have used a Flint (rock) and steel(striker) for a long time.

It wasn't till I started hanging out with "survivalist", and "Bushcrafters" that I realized that the ferro rods were something new to me, and bordered on a magic.....all this new fangled "stuff".

Nice explanation, though, as I'm guessing there are a lot of people that don't know the difference.

Nice job y'all on the history.

Now lets talk about "Lucifer's..........
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Offline Yankee

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Re: The difference between "Firesteel", "Ferro Rod" and "Flint and Steel"
« Reply #38 on: June 09, 2013, 11:58:06 AM »
Sometimes the jargon we use can be confusing so I thought this might help some folks who are new to these tools to help differentiate between them. Most of you already know this stuff but hopefully it will help someone. :)

A ferro rod is basically the same thing as a "lighter flint" which isn't really a flint at all, nor is it "steel" either. They are almost all round metal rods, and they are available from many different sources. You can even get tiny ones from a welding supply store to replace the ones in torch lighters. Different ones produce different kinds of sparks, but all of them are used by rapidly scraping some of the rod off to create sparks. (The differences in ferro rods and how they spark is beyond the scope of this post.) Look up "mischmetal" for more details.



Ferro rods are used by scraping a sharp striker along the length of the rod to remove some fine metal shavings. The friction generated by this action causes the shavings to ignite, creating hot sparks and molten metal. the strikers used with ferro rods can be made of real steel, stone, or almost any material that is sharp and harder than the ferro rod itself. Lots of people use the back edge of their knife to strike a ferro rod.

Ferro rod


A "flint and steel" is something else entirely. This is a hardened carbon steel "striker" and a sharp piece of quartz, cryptocrystalline quartz, or microcrystalline quartz rock (most commonly flint or chert).

Flint and Steel


Flint and steel sparks are not as hot as ferro rod sparks. Ferro rods can be used to ignite a much wider range of tinder directly with a lot less careful preparation. Flint and steel can only ignite the highest quality natural tinders, and there are precious few of them. It is much easier to use charred material with flint and steel, charred cotton cloth being the best, but not traditional or "period correct".

Flint and steel is used by rapidly striking the edge of the steel with a sharp piece of flint in order to scrape off tiny bits of metal, causing them to ignite in much the same way as the ferro rod. Since steel is much harder than the metal ferro rods are made of, you must use a sharp, hard stone like flint or chert, and rather than "scraping" the steel with the flint, you must "strike" them together. This takes a bit of practice to get right. The proper technique is a combination of impact, and scraping that is best described as a "glancing blow". Sparks can be made by striking the steel against the flint, or striking the flint against the steel. We have a discussion of the two techniques here:

http://bladesandbushcraft.com/index.php/topic,4610.0.html

Ferro rods are a relatively modern tool and are not "traditional" or "primitive" fire starting methods. But they do require a bit of skill to use them effectively and reliably.  If a person can't get a fire going with a ferro rod, they are not likely to succeed using a flint and steel. However there are some times that using charred material (as is common with flint and steel) can help you succeed where you would fail without it. But charred material can be used with a ferro rod as well so that advantage isn't exclusive to the flint and steel.


Then there's a bit of a hybrid, my "strike-all" tools. These are designed to be used as a flint and steel as the "steel" part of the kit, and as a striker in combination with a ferro rod.

There is some confusion arising from the relatively recent, and unfortunately prevalent misuse use of the term "firesteel" to describe ferro rods. Traditionally, the steel striker used in a flint and steel kit was called a "firesteel", or a "strike-a-light". Ferro rods are being marketed as "firesteels" by several companies, and the misnomer has become so entrenched now that searching for the term "firesteel" brings up far more ferro rod results than steel flint striker results. This has made it necessary when discussing "firesteels" to ascertain whether the person mentioning them is referring to a ferro rod, or a traditional steel striker.

Ultimately success with either of the two methods boils down to technique and preparation (so practice is important). Hope this clears up the difference. :)

Thank you for that. It chaps my hide when I see terms being misused.
While some could've been just taught wrong, I find it offensive to my
intellect when self-appointed internet gurus don't even use the proper
terminology to describe something. You'd think they'd actually do some
research before they tried to teach others about what they picked up on
the interwebs. I'm still learning myself and flub the terms from time to
time, but then again, I'm not posting "how to" videos on YouTube! LOL

Here's a few of my bits...

My favorite ferro & misch rods:




This is my custom made (fit to my particular hand) fire steel:
I took in a vintage file and this Amish Craftsmen offered me a deal.
He'd make mine free if I let him have the remains of the file. Done.
He squeezed out 5 more fire steels out of it. This old file was top
quality according to the Blacksmith and it rained sparks out of the
lightest scrape against a flint or chert. 











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Offline wolfy

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Re: The difference between "Firesteel", "Ferro Rod" and "Flint and Steel"
« Reply #39 on: June 09, 2013, 01:19:22 PM »
I salute your clarity of thought, Yankee! 8)
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Offline Yankee

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Re: The difference between "Firesteel", "Ferro Rod" and "Flint and Steel"
« Reply #40 on: June 09, 2013, 01:47:06 PM »
I salute your clarity of thought, Yankee! 8)


    Thank you Wolfy.
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Offline WI_Woodsman

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Re: The difference between "Firesteel", "Ferro Rod" and "Flint and Steel"
« Reply #41 on: June 09, 2013, 02:41:57 PM »


Wait...  This Amish dude aint you Yankee?  *Disappointed*  :(

Offline Yankee

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Re: The difference between "Firesteel", "Ferro Rod" and "Flint and Steel"
« Reply #42 on: June 09, 2013, 04:31:52 PM »


Wait...  This Amish dude aint you Yankee?  *Disappointed*  :(

LOL! Not "yet". I'm literally going to buy a anvil tomorrow though. ;)
« Last Edit: June 09, 2013, 04:37:37 PM by Yankee »
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Offline mountainmarty

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Re: The difference between "Firesteel", "Ferro Rod" and "Flint and Steel"
« Reply #43 on: June 14, 2013, 02:43:18 AM »
That was a great evening read! Many thanks to all involved. You learned me a lot! Happy Sparks!
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