I managed to get my hands on a single piece of flint about the size of a matchbox, perfect for fire starting. It throws really good sparks on the blunt end of a file, I understand this is because it is very high carbon steel.
I was looking for a more manageable size Steel to use but nothing works as well as the file. Seems lots of the broken tool steel I tried seemed to have some kind of coating or was the wrong allow.
Any ideas other than buying and butchering an old file?
I'm also interested in more primitive options for a striker, such as iron pyrite or something similar. Do we have a good source of these in NZ?

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If you use cotton balls with some vaseline in them, you will get instant flame, no mucking around. Also the cheap firestarters at the supermarket which are budget brand are really good if you scrap a bit of into a pile on the top of it and hit that with a spark , instant flame. If you are talking about stuff you can find in or around the bush try the fluff off thistles or the tops off bullrush etc. Try dry manuka bark, and scrap the edge of your knife at 90 degrees to it and get a small fluffy pile of it. In my experience normally with a firesteel you should get flame as opposed to an ember, as with flint and steel, firesteel sparks are about 3000 degrees, much hotter than flint and teel sparks.

I heard a hacksaw blade will work on flint and I think you use the blades that break when bent, and not the bendy ones.

Any good high carbon knife should work also, although the sparks are metal coming off the knife so that might deter some. I seen one guy use a cheap Opinel knife, while it is closed so nice and safe.

I think I read somewhere about knife making that you can use an old mower blade so maybe they are high carbon too, as well as some skill saw blades, not the ones with stuck on teeth, or the ones that don't rust.

This guy is interesting (well after the first 2 minutes of strangeness) and talks about his 3 flint kits and how to make sulphur matches which I never heard of before.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ngeig1hSrGk

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I just found a picture of the small 'striker' knife I ground from a file:

Very nice. Is the right end an additional blade or is that where you strike?
The knife has just one edge, and that is the portion at the lower right of the picture. I am not a fan of double edged blades.... too dangerous.

It would have been safer to not have a pointed blade, but I like to have a point on a knife as it makes it more useful. When striking, I hold my charcloth tinder on top of my flint in my left hand, and strike with my right.

The knife has a small sheath made from old conveyor belt.

I just watched the video. My word, it does start off a little strangely.... but the guy does give a good demo of using a flint and steel.

I made sulpher matches once - many years ago. I dipped small slivers of wood into molten sulpher. You have to be careful with this because sulpher burns with a flame that can be hard to see in bright light. But it does melt easily too. I cant remember how I melted it, but chances are I would have done something like melt in in a can or an old spoon over a candle flame. The smoke given off by burning sulpher is awful stuff, so a safe place outdoors is probably the best location for sulpher experiments. I seem to remember that when I held a sulpher match against some glowing charcoal I got the sulpher to burn with a flame.

I think one of the main things to learn in firelighting, is how to coax a glowing coal into a flame.
Oh did you notice that video was part 1 of 3. He does show how to make the sulphur matches which is like you said, and to light them he wraps the lit char cloth around them and blows.
No... I didn't notice there were other parts. Must check it out thanks.
Hi All
where do you get flint from in chch or nz
If you have a 'rock shop' or a rock collecting club down there you might be able to get a bit. I've heard also that some beaches might have old flint ballast rocks on them that were carried here on sailing ships. But quartz will make a nice spark, even if the bit of quartz is likely to crumble quicker than flint.

Go to the museum, if it is still open. They have some flint samples there that say where they where found. Flint seems seriously hard to get in NZ. I think that is why maori chose greenstone for a lot of their weapons etc. Maybe that is the reason the bow was not used here as suitable material for arrow heads was not available. I envy those you tube clips of guys saying ' you just go find a fallen tree, and look in the roots ' they make it seem easy. One thing I have noticed is that when people talk of finding flint in NZ it seems to be in limestone areas, do I have this right?

I am unaware of any really good flint sources in NZ.  I've heard that there are some reasonable bits of flint-like rock around Clarence in the South Island, although it could be chert (whatever the difference is).

I had some pieces of flint or chert sent to me from a North Island source.... I think it was Raglan.   They were just small nodules.

I understand that flint occurs in chalk... which is fairly closely related to limestone.

I've seen Maori tools made from what appears to be flint or chert.  Only small things like drill points though.

I've also seen argillite flakes in the roots of a fallen tree at the site of an ancient Maori quarry.  But argillite is quite a bit different to flint... much harder to flake.

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