Modern fire starting devices utilize chemical accelerants, while primitive fire starting methods tend to rely mainly on friction. But there is a method that bridges the gap, used by people with no modern technology, and yet also incorporated into modern fire-starting methods, such as the butane lighter. This method is that of using the impact from metal and rocks to produce sparks that are tiny pieces of molten metal, which ignites tinder, or in the case of the lighter, butane gas. And this method can be put to reliable use in wilderness survival to get a fire going when other methods are not available to you.
Find the Rocks
Flint is the most commonly used rock for fire starting. But it is not the only option. Other forms of quartz will also work. You don’t need to find a large crystal, just a rock that contains quartz crystals within it. Quartz is common in sedimentary rocks, because of this you will have a better chance of finding a suitable rock near river beds or exposed hillsides that have been eroded.
Chances are that when you find a rock with suitable qualities that it will not be in the preferable size and shape. You will have to fracture the rock to a manageable size and produce sharp edges that will help generate the sparks. Instead of hitting your quartz against another stone which would result in valuable pieces being lost after breaking off at high speeds, lay your stone on a large flat rock, lay a piece of cloth on top of it, and smash it with a larger rock.
Getting a Spark
To get a spark, find a sharp angle on your stone and strike at the very tip of the edge with a piece of iron or steel. Hold a small piece of tinder close to the edge to catch the resulting spark. When you see the spark contact the tinder, blow on it until the tinder is smoldering and then transfer the tinder to a larger bundle and continue to blow. Even when using the back side of a knife blade this can be hard on your knife, so it you have another option you should try to avoid using your knife for this.
This technique has been around for thousands of years, and has even become part of modern fire starting devices. Practicing it will give you a valuable skill set to take with you into the wilderness.
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