If you've come here because you bought one of our flint and steel kits, Thank You!
We'll start with a more in-depth tutorial on making fire from flint and steel. Then we'll talk about how to use knives and tools while bushcrafting, including what sorts of designs and material choices are appropriate to different tasks, as well as how to safely work with sharp tools.
To use our Flint & Steel kit, a few words on technique are in order. We'll expand on what came with the kit... and be sure to watch the video below.
1) Hold the flint in your off-hand, sharp side facing your steel hand, with a pinch of char-cloth held under the thumb. The goal is to use the sharp edge of the flint to shave off a small amount of hardened steel, which is what burns as hot sparks, and catch that spark in the char-cloth.
2) Strike the flint with the steel, using a loose wrist, not hammering the flint but brushing it with increasing pressure. When sparks fly into the char-cloth, take the coal and set it in your tinder bundle. I like to roll my right wrist slightly, so that as I close in on the flint, the rolling motion pushes the striker more firmly against the flint. It should be a shaving motion, not an impact between the tools. This will take some practice, but once learned, is easy to do.
3) Gently blow into the bundle until the coal alights and flame is burning, then add to your fire-lay. It's common to put together a "birds nest" first, something small enough to hold in the cupped hand. The important process here is: use the spark to make a coal, then blow the coal into flame. A dry tinder nest helps with the second part.
4) Replenish tinder and char-cloth as needed. The tin can be filled with cotton and closed, and set in a fire. Once smoke stops pouring forth, retrieve the tin and let it cool before opening. Some tutorials suggest poking a hole in your tin, but that's only needed for otherwise air-tight containers... the hinged lid lets enough smoke out, and doesn't let oxygen in, which is the perfect environment to char new cloth with. Any natural fiber will do, from cotton balls to old denim, duck canvas, or jute cord. I prefer cotton balls, they are very airy and sustain a coal very easily from a single spark.
5) Use natural materials like cotton and old Manilla rope for tinder. They burn well when dry and pure. I like to use frayed rope or jute twine, and raw cotton. Both burn very well when dry, and are easy to restock. Also, they compress well in the kit so you can have plenty on hand. The fatwood included in the kit can be whittled into shavings to help sustain a flame, or used in the fire-lay as good starting kindling. Other excellent resources, if you have access to them, are the bark of Birch and Cedar trees. Birch contains a pitch that is very flammable, and makes an outstanding tinder. Cedar, kept dry, will always burn hot and fast, good in any condition you're using a primitive kit in.
As of 2016, the kits I'm producing are made with Chert from west Texas, high carbon steel forged in my shop, and include fatwood, raw cotton, and Manilla rope frayed out like Oakum. As mentioned, the tin can be used to make more char-cloth, and a tin full of cotton balls will create enough char for many fires to come. I prefer to keep the char in a plastic container to ensure its dryness, which is the most critical part of starting a fire with this method. It may not be entirely historic, but it is dependable.
Please see the video below for a demonstration of the use, maintenance, and replenishment of the Flint & Steel kit: