As posted in my blog of the last adventure we had, my friend Sticker and I wanted to get a fire going with natural tinder, found on site and getting it to ignite to flame using flint and steel. This is a very old method of lighting a fire and with it comes special considerations.
For one, the ember or spark that you get in the charred cloth is very weak. Nothing like the 5500°F you get with a ferrocerium rod or fire steel. (e.g. the Gobspark). And when you are dealing with temperatures near 4°F, as was the case on that outing, it takes a lot of heat to raise the tinder to the ignition point, which is around 400°F or more.
The suggestion was made by my friend Pine Martin, on the BushcraftUSA site, that we try pre-warming the tinder by wrapping it up and storing it in an inside pocket. This has the effect of not only warming the tinder by nearly 100°F, but it also helps to dry it out, as any moisture that is frozen and locked up in the tinder fiber, begins to thaw and evaporate and get absorbed by the layers of wrapping.
So on this outing, with temperatures about -2°F, I decided to gather my tinder early and wrap it up in my bandana and put it in an inside pocket for safe keeping.
When it came time to light the fire, I carefully prepared all of my kindling and when the time was right, I took out my tinder and worked quickly to get the ember from my charred cloth to ignite the fibers.
With special care, and a little help by blowing some air continually into the bundle, I was able to get my fire going. The tinder caught the shavings and the shavings caught the split-wood kindling.
Here is the video of that outing and my success with flint and steel and natural tinder found on-site and with very cold temperatures.
I hope you enjoyed the video and that you get a chance to try for the cold challenge of using only flint and steel and charred cloth to get a fire going in the very cold temperatures of winter. It is something I will continue to practice. Until then, Happy Exploring.