Flint and Steel

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10 July 2016, 10:29 AM
Big Ugly
Flint and Steel
Just an observation here. While I'm sure many mountain men used natural substances as an alternative to char, I can also believe that cotton fabric could have been available.

My wife is a quilter, as were many frontier women (and men). Her fabric trimmings from one quilt could keep a man in available char for a year. Who is to say that this wasn't also the case. Too often when looking at clothing, we see only the finished project, not the raw material that went into its making.

Part Man, Part Critter
Born under the watch of the Great Spirit
10 July 2016, 10:48 AM
Iche Iia
That’s another good thought and could very well have been. However, I don’t think there were many Mountain Men that were married to women in the mountains that made quilts LOL They could have been married to Indian women but they would be making blankets from Buffalo hides and such and when they came across cotton, they valued it.

But it is all conjecture on our part and as you say, who’s to know.

Iche Iia

"Don't pick a fight with an old man. If he's too old to fight, he'll just kill you."
14 July 2016, 05:10 PM
I've tried every type of fungus I've been able to find here in Colorado and have never had any catch a spark. Certainly not to say I've tried them all. Tried them dried and tried them charred. Just haven't found the right one yet.

I have tried and carry some of the great tinder fungus that a buddy of mine sent me from Vermont. It works outstanding. The species just doesn't grow in the areas I run in.

Like I mentioned above the best natural item I've found above 8,000 feet elevation in Colorado is Aspen punk, that I've charred over a fire. Works great. seems to catch a spark much better than any of the pines or conifers.
15 July 2016, 10:27 AM
Various crushed and frayde barks, such as red ceder, make excellent tinder.

*Young guys should hang out with old guys; old guys know stuff.*
15 July 2016, 03:36 PM
We've got a stump full of punky cottonwood that should be enough to last the rest of our lives...

Beer is proof that God loves us,and wants us to be happy-B. Franklin
02 February 2018, 06:02 PM
Might try the method Ellsworth describes in 1834, while traveling through Indian Territory (Oklahoma) with Rangers from Ft. Gibson. Washington Irving, Latrobe and the Swiss Count, de Pourtales, all kept journals during that trip.


06 February 2018, 01:30 PM
I enjoy reading his stuff. He has several on flint and steel, etc.

I to have a hard time buying into the charred cotton. I have little doubt it was used... but I think mostly in the home setting. I have read those accounts in several books. But, in the back country...

There is another method I have seen used for lighting fire: the steel is struck so to put the spark in the "tinder box" or... maybe more appropriately the "char box", then the tinder was put on top of that to catch the flame. More material to be charred would then be put in the char box and the lid closed. The closing of the lid would cause the new material to char for the next go around.

as for wadding, In the Traditional Muzzleloader magazine a few years back there was an article that discussed a French Voyeur gun found in one of the Great Lakes, it has mixed shot in it and was patched with grass.

I suppose you used whatever you had and whatever you learned worked.

anything worth shooting is worth shooting once.
09 February 2018, 10:35 AM
I have found charred monks cloth to be the best spark catcher. Can be found at Walmart, cheap. I once pulled up some kind dried grass and it caught fire like a demon. Was never able to relocate that grass again. Frowner
10 February 2018, 10:50 AM
Loyalist Dave
Well over the past two years, I've never been able to get any dry grass or leaves to hold a spark that could be blown into a flame, and it was darn tough getting that spark to catch in the first place. Eeker I wonder about the high humidity where I am, and perhaps what is used with the flint and steel is geographically influenced as well? High summer humidity = you need something carbonized, and low simply grab dried grass ??? Confused ??? . I even put some dry grass and brown leaves into a Dutch oven to get it really dry..., smoldered but wouldn't get any hotter when the spark hit it. Now, charred fungus worked.


It's not what you know, it's what you can prove
10 February 2018, 02:16 PM
I've heard good things about birch bark.Tulip poplar also has fans.

Beer is proof that God loves us,and wants us to be happy-B. Franklin
18 February 2018, 09:57 AM
Bud in PA
Here in NE PA I find old pine tree stumps work for tinder, and I guess they call them oyster mushrooms that grow on trees work pretty good. I can get an ember on the fungus with a glass. The ember is difficult to extinguish.
19 February 2018, 02:11 PM
woods loper
I tried my hand a making charred punk wood this weekend. I found some spongy wood in my wood pile. I broke it up and charred it in the grill in a steel paint can. It caught a spark really well. I believe I will use this rather than char cloth from now on. I went squirrel hunting this morning. I didn't get a squirrel but I did collect a sandwich bag full of dried pine pitch so it was a good day after all.
19 February 2018, 04:24 PM
Iche Iia
Woods loper - I have had the same experience with charred punk wood. However, I would like to know how it works for you after a day or so. My deal with it was it took a spark great right after I charred it but later, I had a hard time with it. Let me know how it does for you please.

Iche Iia

"Don't pick a fight with an old man. If he's too old to fight, he'll just kill you."
19 February 2018, 07:49 PM
woods loper
Hmmm. I'll have to see about that. I just made it Friday.
20 February 2018, 12:07 AM
Paul Lennous
I’ve had good success with charred wood punk. If it hasn’t been used in awhile and won’t readily take a spark, I just crumble a big piece of it up and that seems to do the trick.

I try to lay it near the fire whenever I build one to keep it as dry as possible.
20 February 2018, 01:10 PM
Sounds like it accumulates moisture on the surface....

Beer is proof that God loves us,and wants us to be happy-B. Franklin
29 June 2018, 08:56 AM
Ohio Rusty
I know this in an older thread but I have come across some historical information for Rusty51 about using buffalo chips as tinder on the plains. I attached the pic of the document showing where they were using dried buffalo chips with flint and steel to make fire.

17 September 2018, 04:13 PM
anyone got pictures of the tender fungus and punk wood? wouldn't know what they looked like if it fell on my head. and where would you normally find this stuff?
18 September 2018, 01:12 PM
Google "tinder fungus", or Chaga fungus.Far North Bushcrafter has a couple of good vids on it.

Beer is proof that God loves us,and wants us to be happy-B. Franklin
18 January 2019, 09:47 PM
Most of the evidence I found indicates cotton based char cloth was more commonly used in setlements near the fire place. They would use and re use a piece of cloth til it had no more use in it, then would give it one last use...char cloth.

Everything I've read, and it was not an exhaustive study, shows people in the field using a tinder box with charred natural tinders such as grasses, fibres, pithy twigs, ect.That is not to say people could use whatever they felt like using.

Here in North Central Florida, I like to use what we call "monkey hair." It's the fibre of the saw palmetto.