Feb 23, 2014

Using Milkweed Ovum with Flint & Steel

"Although I had lost my rifle and all my plunder, I felt quite rich when I found my knife, flint and steel in my shot pouch, These little fixins make a man feel right peart when he is three or four hundred miles from anybody or any place."
Hugh Glass

The story of Hugh Glass getting mauled by a bear and left for dead is one of my favorites from the fur trade era.      The Story of Hugh Glass

 I've always wondered how he made fire without any charred material to catch the spark from his flint and steel. He may have used Milkweed ovum's, and while it's not quite as easy to catch a spark with an ovum as it is with charred material it can be accomplished with a little more perseverance.

Milkweed ovum's still in the pod and once harvested.

  The tinder bundle was made from the inner bark from a Poplar tree.
 I worked the bark over my haversack to try and catch the fine "crumbs" that fell off so they could be placed in the center where the ember would  be placed.

My mini flint and steel set next to the nest.
 The ovum gets torn in half and placed with the torn end at the edge of the flint where the steel will strike.

The ovum after catching the spark, I wasn't counting but it probably took me 10 to 15 strikes to get a spark to land just right.
 Placing the charring ovum in the prepared tinder bundle.
 After about 30 seconds of blowing and waving it the smoke picked up.
 And this is what it's all about.

Stay safe 


Gorges Smythe said...

You might get a more readers if you'd ditch the black page and grey letters and get something old geezers like me can read. I didn't even try it today.

Bob Shannon said...

Thanks, I'll see what I can do.

Keith H. Burgess said...

Excellent, well done. Only a small matter, & certainly no criticism here, but your tinder bundle is actually kindling, the ovum is the tinder.
By the late 18th century, the powder horn was often attached to the shot pouch strap, so if Hugh Glass had his shot pouch, he probably had his powder horn. Gunpowder can be rubbed into or sprinkled on uncharred plant tinder material in the tinderbox, & sparks struck on that will start the tinder smouldering.
You have done a good job finding this one, well done. But keep looking, lots more to find.
Regards, Keith.

Bob Shannon said...

Thanks Keith,
At first I discounted the use of powder as they took his rifle, but since you've mentioned it they did leave his shot pouch. If they left his knife and steel which would have been valuable trade items in this era they could have left his powder also.