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On the spur of the moment I bought a flint and steel. This was mainly because it seems manly and cool. My main problem is I really struggle to light a fire with the thing and normally give up and use a lighter instead.

Can someone give me some pointers to lighting a fire successfully using a flint and steel?

9

A quick search yielded this video, which seems straightforward enough.

I have never seen anyone use charcloth like in the video, but it seems to work nicely.

To summarize the video:

  1. Place the charcloth on top of the flintstone with your fingers.
  2. Strike the flint until the charcloth is lit.
  3. Put the glowing charcloth into a tinder bundle (old rope that has been pulled apart, wood shavings, dryer lint, cotton wool, etc.) and blow gently until you have a flame.
  4. Slowly add more fuel to the fire. Start with small twigs, dry grass, etc. until the flames are high and hot enough to add firewood.

Most importantly, have something that immediately starts glowing or burning, like wood shavings etc. Start the fire by igniting the smallest fuel at hand and build your way up from there.

You might consider "cheating" using wax paper or a magnesium bar, which can be bought online or in outdoor equipment stores.

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    +1 for the shavings. When you're dealing with a firestarter like this, you have to focus on lighting the smallest things possible and build a fire from that. – Unknown Coder Sep 3 '14 at 17:19
  • @JimBeam "When you're dealing with a firestarter like this, you have to focus on lighting the smallest things possible and build a fire from that." This is exactly what I meant to say but couln't quite express before. Do you mind if I include this in my answer? – barghest Sep 3 '14 at 17:34
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    Some other light and small things to assit, dryer lint and hair swept up off the floor from your dog. It sounds gross until you live with a hairy dog who sheds then its not. – treeNinja Sep 3 '14 at 19:24
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    I second dryer lint. Definitely easy to light with a flint and steel (and a good demonstration of why you should clean your drier!) – Kevin Sep 4 '14 at 3:07
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    Would be good to summarise the content of the video? If the video goes down your answer is no longer an answer! – user2766 Sep 4 '14 at 8:10
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Simple demonstration https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jVpGFAJmG3g.
The trick is to pull the Flint-stick towards you while keeping the scraper stationary. Make sure you are using something dry, tiny, or chard cloth, or fine steel wool works well. I've never had a problem with mine, but I still like to rough it a little more and use the Bow and Drill method.

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