Using a Firesteel

How to strike a firesteel with a bushcraft knife:-
NEVER use the cutting edge of your knife to strike a firesteel (always use the back of the blade).
The Swedish Army Firesteel is a metal alloy rod used to create sparks to ignite a wide variety of tinder materials. Its’ very simplicity has made it a firm favourite with many outdoor people as it is reliable, long lasting, is not adversely affected by water, and has no moving parts to go wrong. In the following example a piece of maya wood has been used to create the tinder.

Step 1) Preparing the tinder. Using the back of the knife blade, scrape down the length of the piece of maya wood producing a bundle of small shavings that are still attached to the piece of wood (a little like a feather stick). Then cut a small sliver of wood from the main piece with all the shavings still attached to the sliver (this helps to hold all the shavings together when using the firesteel).

Step 2) Positioning. Place the end of the firesteel on a firm surface in a position that will allow the sparks will fall onto the tinder.

Step 3) Striking. Strike downward with a hard and slow movement using the back of the knife blade. Never use the cutting edge of your knife to strike a firesteel as you are likely to completely ruin the knife. The sparks produced should ignite your prepared tinder.

Other Tinder Materials:

Birch Bark. This is probably my favourite tinder as it’s easily collected where available and works extremely well in all conditions due to the oil content of the bark.

This is a strip of birch bark torn from a dead rotting tree found lying on the forest floor. Most of the wood had disintegrated but the bark was still usable. Use the back of your knife to scrape up the surface of the bark into a pile of fine shavings.

Place the firesteel firmly on the bark and strike slow and hard down the full length of the steel with the back of your knife blade. The shavings should catch fire and set the rest of the bark alight. You can see an indication of the oil content of the bark when it’s burning by the black smoke that it gives off.

Feather Stick. This is a favourite for lighting a fire in a soaking wet forest. Make feather sticks from cut and quartered dead standing wood. Even if the wood is wet on the outside, dead standing wood will contain dry wood in the centre.

Arrange three good feather sticks so that the fine shavings are in a large pile. Strike slow and hard down the firesteel with the back of your knife so that the sparks set fire to the fine shavings.