This week I had the chance to handle some rebar, and of course, I wondered about it’s ability to produce sparks. I figured that there must be some carbon content in the steel, so I decided that because of it’s size and weight, I would strike the bar with a sharp piece of quartz rock rather than the other way around.
Rebar is manufactured with slight diagonal ribs joined by two raised seams that run the length of each piece. I discovered when using hacksaw blades as strikers that the smooth edge is the best part for striking and not the saw tooth side. Likewise, the part of the rebar to strike is the raised seam with the diagonal ribs pointing in the direction of the blow of the rock.
I took a piece of #0000 fine steel wool to catch the sparks by pulling it out into a fluffy ball, then wrapping it lightly around the rebar. Hold the steel wool in place on the rebar with one hand, and with the other hand, strike just above the steel wool using the sharped edged rock. With practice you’ll get some decent sparks that will catch in the steel wool. You can then coax the enflamed steel wool into your tinder bundle. A paper towel works great for this purpose.
Your strikes must be vigorous but take care not to strike your hand. You’ll find great satisfaction when the steel wool is set ablaze. This is another case of a centuries-old fire method using modern materials that could be found on a job site or perhaps in your own garage.
Awesome. I will have to try this
Does this also mean re-bar has a high carbon content and would be good for making knives?
I’ll be honest… I don’t have blacksmithing experience, but I would love to hear from any blacksmith readers who have tried it. I’m thinking that it could work.
rebar is not the best knife making steel….. think high carbon steal like a leaf spring from a car or a trailer….. heat it to a bright cheery red,,, then let it cool slowly ,,, stuck in a bucket of sand….. this will anneal the metal “make it soft”…. then with a grinder or hack saw,,, cut out your blade blank,,, file or grind it to the rough shape,,, then shape with finer abrasaves or files,,, then use a very hot flame to re heat the metal to a light straw color just under cheery red,, then quinch in used engine oil to set a new temper “hardness” to the metal…. that will make a useable knife blade, spear point,, tool…..