We began with the history of fire (basically reading this article out from Wikipedia, and wondering aloud at the technology we’ve created, that can tell us about the Wonderwerk Cave site, instantly on the edge of a lake in a stately home). We talked about our mutual friend Otzi, an ancient human who was discovered, mummified in ice near the Austrian village of the same name, with a kit containing exactly the stuff we'd be using today.
The rest of the workshop was split in two.
In the morning, we started with the post-industrial stuff – how to build a fire using things you’d find in the streets of Birmingham, Coventry, or gritty Leamington Spa. Wooden stirrers from Costa, copies of the Metro for tinder, fruit crates from Spain and now-pointless bank statements would be good places to start. But how to light it?
Enter flint and steel. The steel is easy – it has to be carbon steel, so look for any tools with a sharp edge that are now rusty. Old files from toolboxes in suburban sheds are a good call. Flint is harder to find in the midlands. Here’s a map of where it occurs naturally. Find chalk and you can find flint. (All the flint we used today was sourced from Brighton Beach. Maybe get a seaside trip in before the apocalypse?)
You’ll also need something called char-cloth, which is basically material that’s been cooked without oxygen, so that it’s super carbonised, and can take a spark. Here’s a video on how to make it. Don’t do it indoors. We’d already made some, earlier in the morning, on real fires. Ten Clearing points.