Do you like to practice welding as a hobby? Or perhaps, your job requires you to frequently engage in welding projects? Whether you are an amateur or a professional welder, you’re perhaps no stranger to using a welding torch. To ignite the spark needed to set a welding torch aflame, you need to buy striker flints online. In fact, you may already be familiar with the process.
But have you ever stopped to wonder about the history of flint strikers?
The History of Making Fire from Flints
When did humans first discover fire? Although historical accounts vary, we can be almost certain that the discovery of fire can be traced back to over 200,000 years. The Royal Society reports that traces of fire usage in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia were quite common from around 400,000 years ago. Time Magazine has a more interesting take, and has reported that the first interaction humans had with fires can date back to over 1.5 million years ago.
Whatever the true history behind it may be, there’s no doubt that fire has been used by humans for millennia now. The most widely accepted theory of how fire was first discovered states that humans perhaps rubbed sticks or stones together to create a spare.
Now, over several hundred thousand years later, technology has evolved in so many ways. And still, the basic principles of fire-making remain the same to this day. Flint strikers are testimony to this fact.
Looking Back at How Flint Strikers Have Stood the Test of Time
As time moved from the Stone Age to the Bronze Age and then the Iron Age, various advancements and developments marked the progression of humankind. However, some tools have remained quite the same, passed on from one generation to the next and having changed very little despite the centuries that have passed.
The simple flint striker is one such tool. True to its name, the tool makes use of flints to create sparks, which, in turn, help start a fire.
A flint is a kind of hard stone that produces sparks when it is struck against certain materials like steel. The principle behind this can be traced back to the time when fire was first discovered.
Flint Strikers Today: And Their Use in Modern Welding Techniques
In modern flint strikers, ferrocerium is often used to create the sparks instead of natural flint. It is a synthetic alloy made of different metals like cerium, neodymium, lanthanum and iron. The material is further hardened by mixing iron or magnesium oxides. Like natural flint, ferrocerium, when struck with hard materials like steel, also produces sparks of temperatures exceeding 3,000°C.
When exposed to the fuel gas in the presence of oxygen, these sparks can ignite a welding torch and offer the heat necessary to carry out the welding process. Welding torches are used to join metal workpieces in oxy-fuel welding. It can also be used to cut metals into smaller pieces as a part of the welding project.
On the flip side, since ferrocerium wears out quickly, some flint strikers make use of traditional flints. Whatever the materials the flint may be made of, they are typically used in conjunction with carbon steel or stainless steel.
This concludes the simple yet fascinating history of striker flints and their usage in modern day welding. Today, you can find flint strikers of different types, based on the number of flints used in the tool. The most common options are single flint strikers (with just one flint) and three-flint strikers (with three flints). Flint strikers are now also available with replaceable flints, so you can continue using the tool even after the flints have worn off, simply by replacing the flint stones.