I posted a video awhile back where I made a fire using a small firesteel. It was a lot of work with the smaller steel and I finally went to www.firesteel.com and checked out their bigger version called the GobSpark Armageddon FireSteel. After looking it over I ordered one for myself and one for my eighteen year old daughter.
We have a small family gathering at my parent’s house almost every weekend where we get together and cook hotdogs and other food over an open fire. My daughter tried to light a fire with the smaller steel a couple of weekends ago and couldn’t quite bear down hard enough to get a good spark.
After the firesteels arrived I gave her one and had her try and light the fire for the weekend fire (April 16, 2011) and she was able to get it going in just a few tries.
This particular firesteel (the larger black one) comes covered in black paint and needs to be scraped a few times before you can get a spark, but once you do… wow! It really delivers a pile of sparks.
I’ve started a lot of fires with the small orange one as you can see by the amount of use it’s had, but depending on weather conditions I had to strike it for a minute or more before getting it to light. So far I’ve never had to strike the Gobspark Firesteel more than a couple of times.
The trick is to bear down on it. Due to the large surface area and new formula they use it throws an incredible spark that will quickly light your tinder. It’s also big enough to hold comfortably and you can even hold it with a pair of gloves or mittens on – a handy feature for those of us who live in cold weather environments half the year.
There are a couple of things I like about using firesteels and other primitive methods of starting fires. First, a firesteel is inexpensive for what you get in return. The Gobspark was about $12 or $13 off the website and I’ll be able to use it forever. I threw it in my pack and even though I have matches and a lighter I know that I’ll always have a reliabe way to light a fire. Another thing I like about it is that it forces you to know how to build a fire, from finding good tinder to adding the tinder to the actual large wood itself. If you can start a fire with a firesteel you’ll be able to light one with a match or lighter without even thinking about it. Another thing is that a firesteel will throw a spark no matter how wet it gets. If your canoe tips over and your gear is soaked or you lose it and the only thing you have on you is your Bekker Necker knife with an firesteel attached you’ll be able to get a fire going once you get to shore. Click here if you’d like to buy one.
Like everything else this is a skill you have to practice. Let me say that again. Just because you have a firesteel in your pack it might as well be useless if you don’t know how to use it. Practice practice practice!
Check out this video of a guy striking a spark in low level lighting.