Quickly striking flint against a piece of high-carbon steel is one of the most traditional methods of starting a fire. Anyone who has practiced this skill will tell you that it takes some time to master creating sparks with light glancing blows, and it may also be tricky to get your hands on a suitable piece of flint (or other hard rock, such as chert or quartz). However, this technique is undeniably well-known.

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Sparks from a piece of steel can ignite highly-flammable tinder such as char cloth.

If someone told you the flint and steel method could be done with bamboo instead of steel, you might think they're pulling your leg. Nevertheless, we recently saw a video from British survival instructor Dan Hume that shows exactly this being done. Hume says that certain varieties of bamboo, such as the Schizostachyum genus found throughout Asia and many Pacific islands, are both straight and hard enough to spark when struck precisely.

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Hume uses fragments of porcelain as strikers in this video, and sandwiches a clump of palm scurf tinder in between two fragments to catch the spark. He also mentions that the technique should work with other hard glassy stones like flint, and more traditional tinders such as char cloth. Check out the full video below for a demonstration of its surprising effectiveness:

We'd always advise you to carry multiple fire-starting tools any time you're adventuring off the beaten path, but this flint and bamboo method could prove useful if you need a backup means of generating sparks in a tropical region. It's also a cool trick to know and show off to your hiking buddies.


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