Knowing where and how to find flint is a useful skill to have in a survival situation.
The two main uses of flint are :
- For starting fires by striking it together with steel or iron and
- “knapping” it (chipping it) to make arrowheads and knives.
While most people probably won’t need these skills in a survival situation, you can never be sure. It’s better to know and not need that knowledge, than to find yourself in a situation where you wish you knew.
Flint is actually a form of quartz. It occurs naturally in sedimentary rock, often as nodules in chalks and limestone. It can be black, green, white, dark grey or brown in color and is typified by a glassy or waxy appearance. It’s not as glassy as obsidian, but rather more like a dull glass. It fractures along crystalline lines, so it will pretty much always have sharp edges.
You can find flint almost anywhere that you can find stone.
While some areas of the country are more likely to have it than others, the crushed rock used to pave dirt roads often has some flint mixed in. It can also be found mixed in with other types of stone in streambeds.
Since flint fractures, it is important to find flint that is not shattered, but rather solid pieces.
This can be difficult, as water can get into the flint through air holes and expand when it freezes, causing the flint to crack. Flint that is uncovered during excavation for a building won’t have this problem, as it hasn’t been exposed to freezing.
Pieces of flint may not be obvious when you pick them up. In that case, you may need to break the stone open to see what’s inside. You can do this by using a larger piece of hard stone as a hammer and striking across the edge of the stone you want to break. If it is flint, this should cause a piece to flake off, allowing you to see what’s inside.
Identifying flint is easy.
Start with its appearance; if it doesn’t fracture leaving a waxy looking surface, it’s not flint. I remember hearing a survival instructor say,
That advice still works just as good today, as it did years ago. While there are some other types of stone which will spark when struck on a knife, only flint has the right appearance, as well as sparking when struck against a piece of steel.
If you’re looking for flint that you’re planning on using for knapping, you want to be picky about the pieces you save. Look at them closely, preferably with a magnifying glass, to see if there are any cracks air bubbles. Those air bubbles will cause the flint to fracture in ways you don’t want, so only save stones which don’t have air bubbles in them.
Have you every set out to try and find flint? If so, where did you find the flint and how long did it take?
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