Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Firesteel
Firesteel is a piece of high-carbon steel used for striking a spark, usually kept in a tinderbox together with flint and tinder. From the Iron Age onwards, the use of flint and steel was the most common method of fire lighting prior to the invention of the friction match.
More recently the term ‘firesteel’ has become synonymous with so called ‘artificial flints’ which are metal rods of varying size composed of ferrocerium, an alloy of iron and mischmetal (itself an alloy primarily of cerium that will generate sparks when struck). Iron is added to improve the strength of the rods. Small shavings are torn off the rod with either a supplied metal scraper, a piece of hacksaw blade, or, commonly, the back of a knife ground at a suitable angle. These shavings then ignite at high temperatures, and they are much more effective than their historical equivalent.