Adventist Youth Honors Answer Book/Camping/Fire/Metal match
The term metal match, or 'firesteel' has become synonymous with so called 'artificial flints' which are metal rods of varying size composed of ferrocerium, an alloy of iron and mischmetal. Mischmetal is an alloy primarily of cerium that will generate sparks when struck. Iron is added to improve the strength of the rods. Small shavings are torn off the rod with either a supplied metal scraper, a piece of hacksaw blade, or, commonly, the back of a knife ground at a suitable angle. These shavings then ignite at high temperatures, and they are much more effective than their historical equivalent.
While it takes practice and properly prepared tinder to create a sustained fire, the modern firesteel is considered by survival instructors and serious outdoorspeople to be one of the most reliable ways of making fire in severe conditions. Two good examples of firesteel are made by Light My Fire and Blastmatch. The sparks produced by these products are extremely hot, 3000 C°, and easily light toilet paper or small pieces of wood or commercial tinder products.
Traditionally a flint and steel were used; however, the flint was not the important part. With a proper striker, you can get sparks using any hard, non-porous rock that has a sharp edge, even petrified wood. The spark comes from chipping small pieces of steel off the striker; finely divided metals ignite immediately in air, with steel burning at yellow-white heat.
Charpaper can be used as an intermediate step between the striking and the tinder. Charpaper is traditionally made from cotton that has been processed into charcoal. You can make charpaper by taking several patches of cotton denim (from an old pair of jeans for example) and laying them one atop another inside a small tin (such as the ones in which Altoids are packaged). Drill a 3 mm diameter hole in the lid of the tin. Then throw it into a campfire. It should smoke, but not ignite, as not enough oxygen can get into the tin. Once it stops smoking, you can carefully remove it from the fire and let it cool. You should have several charpapers inside, ready for the next fire you light.
When a spark comes into contact with charpaper, it makes the charpaper glow, but the charpaper will not ignite. After the charpaper glows, you put it against your tender and blow. This works much better than attempting to get a spark to stay on the tinder. Igniting the tinder from the glowing charpaper takes practice. Too much oxygen and the tinder is consumed without bursting into flame; not enough oxygen, and it simply doesn't light. But if you get it just right, it will burst into flames rather suddenly. Be ready for this, as you will then be holding a burning wad of tinder in your hands. Place it in your pre-laid fire immediately.