Flint

Flint is also known as Chert – a form of sedimentary Quartz formed of very small crystals.

The distinction between names can be a little confusing, but strictly speaking, Flint is the variety of Chert that occurs in nodules within Chalk or Marl. This is very common around the UK, but less so in some parts of the world.

Flint has been used since prehistory for the making of tools and the lighting of fires.

Showing all 3 results

Appearance, Uses and History

Flint primarily occurs as nodules or masses in chalk or limestone. It is often found along streams, rivers, and shorelines.

Flint breaks into very sharp chips, which means it can be used to form sharp edged tools. Flint knives, scrapers, axes, and arrowheads are all ‘common’ finds; Native American arrowheads made of Flint  are found all over the USA.

It has been used to make stone tools around the work for millions of years, and was one of the primarily materials used for tools in the stone age. When struck against steel, Flint produces sparks – it has been used as a firestarter or for ignition of gunpowder.

In the UK, it has long been used as a building material, with many old countryside houses and churches still having walls with Flint cemented into them. This is especially prevalent in areas where no good building stone is available.

 


Locales

Flint is widely found across Europe, including Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Spain, and the UK.  It is also found in the USA.

Of particular interest is a gorgeous banded variety of flint from Poland.


Mineralogy

Chemistry
Micro crystalline form of Silicon Dioxide – SiO2.
Colours and Variations
Pretty much any/every colour.
Banded Flint is a variant which can confuse people – it should be considered a pseudofossil as it is often confused for a fossil, but is not biological.
Streak
White
Luster
Dull, subvitreous
Fracture
Splintery, Conchoidal
Crystal habit
Often occurs as nodules, layered masses, and concretions.
Mohs hardness
6.5 – 7.0
Specific Gravity
2.4 – 2.65
Easiest testing method
Visual exam, specific gravity.
Common Treatments
Heat treated by flint knappers to reduce chipping.

Photos of Flint / Chert

Flint with weathered crust

Flint nodules, typical of common finds in the UK chalk.

Flint krzemień
Flinta Skane

Lyme Regis beach 04
Fintstonep
Brahiopod.Ærø

Photos of Banded Flint

Gdansk Muzeum Bursztynu 14
Gdansk Muzeum Bursztynu 13
Feuerstein (Flint) aus Polen

Hazards and Warnings

 

Almost all rocks, minerals (and, frankly, almost all other substances on earth) can produce toxic dust when cutting, which can cause serious respiratory conditions including silicosis.
When cutting or polishing rocks, minerals, shells, etc, all work should be done wet to minimise the dust, and a suitable respirator or extraction system should be used.


Translations

Arabic:

  • الصوان
  • الشرت صخر صواني

Hindi:

  • चकमक पत्थर

Portuguese:

Bengali:

  • চকমকি পাথর

Indonesian:

Punjabi:

English:

Italian:

  • pietra focaia

Russian:

  • кремень

French:

  • silex

Japanese:

Spanish:

  • pedernal

German:

  • Feuerstein

Korean:

  • 부싯돌

Thai:

Gujurati:

Mandarin and Traditional Chinese:

  • 燧石

Urdu:

  • چکمک

Further Reading / External Links