This is our first blog in the new Hatchet learning series, where we will provide tips and tricks for outdoor expeditions that we think are important for every man to know. If you already know these skills, then just sit back and enjoy the sketches drawn by our mate Smiddy.
Starting a fire with a flint is not only rewarding but fail proof in any condition if you know what you're doing. Don't get me wrong, lighters and matches are convenient but the sense of accomplishment when you light your fire with a flint is undeniable.
The key to any fire is dry wood and plenty of kindling to kick start it. Use your knife to scrape off dry strips from branches and dry twigs for kindling, and place in a small pile away from damp ground. The secret to a blazing fire is using ‘Old mans beard’ (Usnea), this is a light, combustable tree moss that grows on common pines and looks like the name suggests. An alternative to ‘Old Man’s Beard’ is dry grass. Create a bed with either one of these for the flint shavings to go in for later. Keep the tree scrapings, twigs and larger pieces of the wood nearby, ready for action.
Check the area for over hanging trees or anything that could light up if the fire went up quickly. Now, take the flint and pocket knife and scrape some of the flint off of one side (if you see sparks, flip it over. You’re using the wrong side). You should be making a nice little pile of flint shavings in the ‘bed’ of dry grass or ‘Old Mans Beard’. Your pile of shavings should be the size of a 5c coin if you remember them. Or half the size of a 10c coin.
This time you will use the other side of the flint. Flip the flint over and strike the flint for sparks toward your bed of shavings. You should see sparks, if they don't catch right away, keep scraping. This may take a few scrapes. Once a spark hits the bed of shavings it should light the rest of the ‘bed’. When you have a small flame, add some of the twigs. Add larger pieces of fuel when the fire is strong. Keep an eye on the fire and always make room in your pack for marshmallows.
Enjoy the fire and make sure the campfire stories are flowing.