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Finding Flint in the Wild

Posted by Jamie Canterbury on August 26, 2018   •   flint and steel

Flint and Steel in the Wild

While rocks surround us and make up our landscape, it's rare we give them the time or effort they deserve. They are much like trees and become relegated to a bin in our minds that is left for the far too common items.

Rocks offer up incredible survival benefits. One of the most beneficial rocks you can find is flint. There are few fire-starting methods as popular as flint and steel and this is because of this particular rocks’ hardness and ability to shave a spark from high carbon steel.

In this article, we are going to look at how to identify flint in the natural world as well as a few other uses for rocks in survival. Rocks are all around us and as survivalists, we have to be able to leverage those resources that surround us and come easy.

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Finding Flint

Flint only occurs where there was once and the ocean! That’s an amazing thing to consider. You won’t find flint in the northeast because of this but the southeast and the Midwest has plenty.

A wonderful place to start your hunt can be along river beds. Flint is harder than most rocks and will withstand the weathering that riverbeds produce. It is also commonly hidden in limestone. Flint chunks will be discolored portions that have grown together with the limestone. You can use an anvil stone and bash the flint from your limestone.

While it might seem like nature is the best place to find flint, constructions zones and gravel roads can be wonderful places, too. This is because most loose rock is taken from riverbeds. Flint is often a black or grey color. Flint also has an often-glassy look to its surface. It will be sharp, and you can test it by using it to cut a glass bottle. That is a terrific way to know if you are dealing with flint.

Of course, the final test is to take out your knife or your flint and steel striker to make a spark. If you have the right rock, you are going to be able to strike a spark. From there you are off to the races! After you find your first piece of flint, finding flint again gets much easier.


Fire with Flint and Steel

Once you have discovered your first bit of flint you now have the ability to make fire. You will need at least one other important piece of that puzzle and that is a carbon steel survival knife. Creating an ember from flint spark is no easy feat. You will need a very dry tinder bundle if you want to catch that simple spark.

The very best way to do it is to use a true flint and steel fire starting setup that will provide you with a true steel striker and some charcloth. You see, the flint and the charcloth are layered atop one another and when you strike that steel the charcloth catches that spark almost instantly.

You will still need tinder and you will have to blow that ember into a fire, but you will have a much easier time when it comes to catching that spark. The classic flint and steel kit, like the one here at self reliance outfitters, has everything you need, including the flint, to get started.

Boiling Water

You might never have considered boiling water with rocks. Well, you might have never considered boiling water in your hat either! If you have a good waterproof hat, or jacket even, you can use it as a vessel to boil water. Of course, putting this material over the direct fire will only burn your material, spilling the collected water out.

However, you can create a fire and heat up several medium sized rocks until they are very hot. Be sure these aren’t rocks taken from a water source as they could potentially explode from the moisture inside. A few hot stones can be dropped into your hat or waterproof container, that is filled with water, the heat from the rocks will make the water boil. Drop in one rock at a time because they can be very effective.

This method will work to boil and sanitize water.


Tools and Weapons

As our ancient ancestors taught us, we can do all sorts of things with rocks. At every excavation site anthropologist find things like arrowheads, ax heads and other important implements made from rocks. Rocks were an incredible tool for our ancestors. They outlasted wood and bone and could be made incredibly sharp!

Using the same flint, you can also create arrowheads using the practice of flint knapping. Now, those flint tools and blades will never stand up to modern metal and that is why the native Americans were so happy to hand over land and food for metal. Still, in a survival scenario, it's much better to chop and hammer with rocks than it is with your teeth and fists.


Cook your Food

Ishi Yaki is the practice of hot stone cooking and you will pay a hefty price at a nice Japanese restaurant to have your steak cooked on a hot volcanic rock or something of that nature. This is an exciting process that patrons at restaurants love.

Well, it's no different in the wild. If you have a piece of fish or meat you can certainly use a hot slab of rock to cook that meat on. You will first heat the rock up in the fire and then place the meat on top and cook it on either side.

What you will need to plan for is a tool that you can use to hold those hot rocks while in use. You may want to move them in and out of the fire to heat or cool. Be sure you have a pair of tongs, poker or something else that can manage those cooking rocks.


While it's easy to focus on the rare find or the new gear for your survival, you cannot forget about the resources all around you. We often overlook things like trees and rocks and they are some of the most powerful tools in a survival situation. Now that you know all that rocks can do for you in survival I hope you spend a little more time and appreciation on the study of basic geology in your local area.

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  • great info!

    George McDaniel on
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