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A fire striker or fire steel is a piece of high carbon or alloyed steel from which sparks are struck by the sharp edge of chert or similar rock. Modern fire strikers, commonly called artificial "flints" consist of ferrocerium alloys.
More recently the term "fire striker" has become one of the names used for artificial flints, metal rods of varying size composed of ferrocerium, an alloy of iron and mischmetal (itself an alloy primarily of cerium) that can generate sparks when scraped with a sharp, hard edge. Iron is added to improve the strength of the rods. Ferrocerium is also used for the "flints" used in cigarette lighters.
When natural flint and steel were commonly used, the fire steel was often kept in a metal tinderbox together with flint and tinder.
When using natural flint and steel, many hard, non-porous rocks that can take a sharp edge, such as chert, jasper, obsidian, or some petrified woods can be used.
The sharp edge of the flint is used to strike the fire steel at an acute angle. With practice, small pieces of steel are shaved off the fire steel. The friction of shaving the steel off the fire steel and the pyrophoricity of the steel heats the pieces to a molten state.
Charcloth (charred cotton) or amadou is usually used as tinder with natural flint and steel because they more readily catch the low-temperature sparks, which can then can be blown into flame. However many woodsmen of previous centuries had to do without charred cloth or fire fungus and kept charred plant material in their tinder boxes.
With modern ferrocerium fire strikers (AKA "metal match," "fire steel," "man-made flint," "fire striker"), small shavings are torn off the rod with any hard, sharp edge—a supplied metal scraper, a piece of hacksaw blade, a piece of glass, or, commonly, the back of a knife ground to a sharp angle. These shavings ignite at very high temperatures (3000 F) and are much more effective than sparks from natural flint and steel. They can ignite paper, leaves, or dried grass with less effort than natural flint and steel.
 See also
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